This generation has included the era of comic book superheroes come to life; on television, cartoons, and movies. These crime fighting miracles are characterized as heroes, but what makes them so super?
By analyzing adaptations of several superheroes, we can determine their specific characteristics that prove so heroic to the wide range of audiences. Usually, the television adaptations show greater advancement in the superhero’s personality than movie adaptations mainly due to the fact that there is more time the audience gets to spend with the characters on screen, so therefore the writers can delve deeper into the characterization.
Starting with the television alterations, there is the one and only Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen. From a young age, Oliver Queen had never shown the heroic characteristics he became known for after his time on Lian Yu. However, being faced with numerous near death experiences, difficult tasks, and impossible decisions, Oliver Queen shaped up to be an extraordinary man upon his return home 5 years after he became shipwrecked on the island of Lian Yu. His story, and how it shaped him to become the Green Arrow, is what’s considered remarkable. Even though he spent the 5 years he was gone in a place of genuine horror that no human should ever have to go through, Oliver Queen didn’t lose his faith in humanity, in fact, it allowed him to gain perspective on how he could make a difference in his home town- Starling City. Upon returning home, Oliver put on his hood, picked up his bow and arrow, and set out to protect the people of Starling City from any harm, and eventually becoming known as the Green Arrow. Starting from the horrible shipwreck that left him stranded on Lian Yu, Oliver Queen was faced with many difficulties, such as witnessing the suicide of his father, the murder of his mother, the death of his best friend, and having to endure numerous kidnappings and ER visits of his sister and closest friends. Instead of letting these dreadful situations have a negative impact on his character, Oliver became stronger, both physically and mentally, to be able to take on anyone who dared threaten the safety of his city. Oliver Queen- the Green Arrow- became a symbol of hope to the city, a symbol for the people to know that someone was out there, keeping a watchful eye over the city, protecting the people, and being the beacon of hope.
Next on the television adaptations, we have our very own fastest man alive- the Flash- aka Barry Allen. Barry was struck with a tragedy at the age of 11, when his mother was murdered by an unexplained source and his father went to jail on a false accusation of murdering his wife mother. Barry was then left parentless, being raised by his best friend’s dad. Before the death of his mother, Barry was always full of life, with his personality shining brightly even in darkness, and even after his mother’s death, Barry never lost this amazing trait. After being struck by lightning from the exploding particle accelerator and enduring a 9-month coma, Barry (then 25 years old) woke up to find that he had developed a superpower- significant speed. Barry Allen was always the kid who never wanted to see anybody hurt anyone else, and after he developed his powers he could keep people from harm. Despite having endured a lot of pain so early in his life, Barry never gave up hope that he could help other people, which was his motivation for wanting to fight bullies as a child. He still never lost his upbeat and sunny personality even through the most difficult times. Barry had always inspired the people closest to him, but after using his powers to protect his city- Central City- from other meta-humans (enhanced being from the particle accelerator), he was seen as an inspiration by the whole city as the Flash. The Flash became an emblem of inspiration throughout the city. The people of the city believed that while the Flash was alive, the city was in safe hands, because he was out there, risking his life for everyone, protecting them, and making a difference in all of their lives.
Even though movie adaptations of comic book characters may not dig into character development as much as TV adaptations do, what we do see in the superhero movies do more than enough justice in developing the character’s personality and problems.
To start off, we have our quirky genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Iron Man, aka Tony Stark. Tony Stark never had any traits of a superhero and could have even been considered an antihero- that was before he got capture by the terrorist organization, Ten Rings, and kept hostage until he rebuilt for them the Jericho, a high powered and deadly missile. Instead of complying, Tony Stark managed to secretly build himself a suit, the first ever Iron Man suit, to help him blast out and escape the Ten Rings base. This event shaped the rest of Tony Stark’s future as he decided to change the purpose of his company- Stark Industries- from being a weapons manufacturer to being a source of some good in the world. This change came for him after he saw the horrible things that Ten Rings was doing to destroy world peace by using the weapons that were initially created by Stark Industries to preserve world peace. Seeing this cruelty and irony, Tony Stark vowed to destroy all the missiles Stark Industries produced that were in the enemies’ hands, so he built himself technology to have the power to do just that. That was the beginning of Iron Man. His journey from being a genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist to becoming Iron Man changed his perspective on life. He went from having no care in the world about even the people closest to him to taking it upon himself to protect everybody he possibly can. He turned from a man who couldn’t form lasting relationships to finding a true home and family in his team of the Avengers. He went from being a stuck up genius who had to fill his father’s shoes, to creating his own legacy to protect the people of the earth regardless of the harm it would cause him. Tony Stark may have some anti-heroic characteristics, but in his heart, he is the superhero who would protect the people he loves and every other human being he can by giving up his own life without a second’s thought.
Next we have our very own superhero that stands as the definition of life, the definition of liberty, and the definition of America- Captain America- aka Steve Rogers. Steve Rogers had always been a man whose motivation for every action in his life was his incredibly kind, and sincere heart. He had many physical inabilities that wouldn’t let him join the army during World War 2; regardless, Steve Rogers attempted to get enlisted numerous times, getting rejected each time due to his physical deficiencies. He was finally enlisted to be a part of the super soldier program due to his strong morals and heart, resulting in the birth of Captain America. Captain America stood as a symbol to the American nation that better times were coming. The World Wars were times of great sadness and loss worldwide, and with a symbol of hope during WW2, the American nation was given a renewed sense of courage because of what he stood for. Even after he thawed from the ice after 70 years, Captain America never stopped inspiring the American people. Steve lost everything he had known when he defrosted- his best friends, his girlfriend, and a whole world he had known. That kind of loss, no matter how much it pained him, didn’t stop Steve from doing what he was born to do- inspire, persevere, and lead. He had never run from a fight and always insisted on standing up for himself and his beliefs, even when he wasn’t physically able to fight. His ability to keep fighting for what he believed in, no matter the consequences, is a strong characteristic of his. He proved that nobody should ever give up hope because giving up is never an option for something you truly believe in. Captain America will always be a symbol of hope, but his sacrifice for the American people will always be his greatest achievement.
So at the end of the day, the super heroes we see on television and in movies are the people who take an otherwise impossible situation and find the best outcome. These are the people who care so deeply about other people that they are willing to do what’s necessary, sometimes even sacrificing their own life and happiness, to protect them at all costs. It has been said that tough times don’t last, but tough people do, and this is exactly how these heroes are characterized. They are the tough people who don’t let difficult times get the best of them, but rather adapt and become stronger though learning from difficult times. These heroes represent the inspiration that people need when times are tough, and every possibility for a better future due to their persistence to keep the world safe for people. However, a hero doesn’t have to be an enhanced human being; a hero can be an ordinary person that makes it their responsibility to make a difference in somebody else’s life and are set on inspiring others. These are true heroes- ones who care so genuinely about others that they are willing to go to great lengths to make the world better for others. This proves that if you set your heart on it and want to be considered one, you can be a hero. After all, each of these superheroes started off as people who had the mentality of wanting to change the world for the better.