Day Four: Superheroes

I’m feeling the pressure of this 30 day blogging challenge already today. It’s Saturday, and I’ve spent my entire day resting with Netlix at home trying to recharge from two weeks of a lot of tension at work (tension re: having no work). I nearly forgot about my blogging challenge until 8:00pm. As the blogging challenge continues, I think you can fairly expect to see a wide variety of posts. There will be days, like today, where I just write about something I did or thought during the day.

Today I finished watching Daredevil and began watching Luke Cage. I’m interested in why the Marvel/Netflix shows are so much more engaging for me than the Marvel movies. Perhaps it’s just the format of a show vs. a feature film. The movie is two hours of action and then it’s over, whereas the show can take time to develop the emotional lives of multiple characters, and even when it’s over there is plenty of story to carry over into another season.

I think what is particularly interesting about the Marvel shows, and what we like so much about this new generation of superheroes, is that even with their powers and ability to survive the worst, for the most part they have really shitty lives. They are constantly beaten to a pulp, losing their loved ones, and trying to claw their way up from rock bottom. I think we are drawn the idea of the people we are supposed to admire having even worse lives than we do. We think, well, Luke Cage has had a pretty tough life but he is still trying to make the most of it, so maybe I can too. Or we think, Matt Murdoch can repeatedly lie to and disappoint his friends, but they don’t leave him so maybe my friends won’t abandon me either.

It feels like we are probably soon going to reach a saturation point with superheroes soon. Already it feels like we are losing interest, but still the movies and the Marvel shows are keeping an audience. I wonder what it is that draws us so much to these new kinds of heroes. I want to know what it is that interests us in these new hero stories. It seems to be more than just an American interest in the bootstraps narrative–people who have hard lives working hard to overcome challenges and make the world a better place. In many cases these hero stories do not have happy endings, or at least not the happy endings we come to recognize as the Hollywood happy ending. There is no married with two kids and living in the suburbs ending for these heroes. Their endings are much more complicated, much more nuanced. I think this shows a general cultural interest in the ways that good and evil can be blurred. We see tragedies, scandals, and politics on the news every day, and I think the average person today is no longer capable of seeing the old Captain America sides of black and white right and wrong. We like seeing our heroes struggle a little bit with knowing what is the right thing to do, just as we do in our daily lives.

Even so, though, our heroes generally choose the “right” thing by the end of the story. We want to see our heroes struggle with these questions, but still come out with the best possible solution in the end.

I’m just feeling very interested in what seems like a simultaneously love and distaste for superheroes in our popular culture. I guess I’ll add this to my list of possible things to research in grad school if I have the time.

What are your thoughts?

-Annamarie

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This post is day 4 of a 30 day blogging challenge.

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