We are living in a "Golden Age" of Superheroes.
Dating back all the way to 2008 when Robert Downey Jr. first debuted as the famous Marvel superhero Iron Man all the way to now, as Ben Affleck takes up the mantle of the Batman, superheroes have invaded both our movie screens as well as our television screens.
Though superheroes have always been with us through comic books for a very long time, for whatever reason, we have experienced a sort of rebirth of the superhero craze.
It really makes one wonder what the deal is. Many people seem to think that all things dealing with superheroes are meant for children and yet we find the contrary is true. Adults and adolescents alike have all been affected by massive popularity that both Marvel and DC have recreated. We wear clothing inspired by them, we cosplay as them, and some even name our children after them. What is it about superheroes?
Well, it is no stretch to say that the current state of the world is chaotic and despairing. For many of us, the world seems hopeless - often times feeling as if we have no one to really look up to.
That is where, I believe, superheroes come in. They are the role models we look up to whenever we feel hopeless and powerless. We find ourselves drawn to these fictional characters, simply because that is what they were created for.
Did you know that Superman was created during the Great Depression in order to give hope to the common man during those trying times? Did you know Captain America was created to give Americans a patriotic hope during World War II? The heroes we have grown to know and love through movies and television were created for a purpose - to give us a hope and to give us someone to look up to.
Not necessarily looking up to the fictional character themselves, but the idea of their character. You see, superheroes seem to represent the best of who we are. They represent our selflessness, our kindness, our charity. We look up to them because they make us want to be better versions of ourselves, our own sort of superhero.
Yet, not all superheroes fit that model - and that is even all the better.
What comes to mind for me are heroes like Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, and Daredevil.
Jessica Jones (if you haven't seen her Netflix show, I absolutely recommend it) is a hero in her own right who is far from perfect. She comes from a traumatic background and has suffered even more from the villains she faces, including being raped. She is a powerful hero who represents the people who have been through hell and back and still continue to keep moving forward. She represents a lot of us who often feel powerless and like we can never truly become something great because of what we have been through. Jessica Jones represents those who have been hurt but refuse to give in to their circumstances.
Daredevil (though the Ben Affleck movie was sub par, the Netflix show is beyond amazing) is a superhero who was blinded when he was young and through his disability, forged himself into a superhero protecting the innocent. Daredevil is a hero for those who have a disability, that no matter what hinders you, you can always rise above that and achieve great things. It does not make you any lesser of a hero or person. Daredevil encourages people to look beyond what the world sees as a disability and use it to create a unique ability.
Luke Cage (also has a phenomenal Netflix show I highly recommend watching) is a black man who has unbreakable skin and superhuman strength who operates throughout Harlem. Now, I could easily stop there because anyone can clearly see his significance to people - but I'm gonna keep going anyway. There is a scene in his show which has him putting on a dark hoodie and being shot at, the bullets bouncing off of him with ease. That, my friends, is powerful. With all the senseless brutality done towards African Americans within America, Luke Cage offers hope. A hope that it does not matter what the color of your skin is, where you come from, or what you have done - Luke Cage says to the world: Anyone can be a hero.
Superheroes are more than just people in tights - they are beacons of hope, they are beacons of light. In the midst of a chaotic world, these heroes tell us that we are capable of so much more, no matter our circumstances and that is truly a message the world desperately needs to hear right now. We may not have superhuman strength or speed or the ability to fly - but what we do have is the capacity to love and care for one another. We are able to be like the heroes we look up to by simply caring for one another.
We can be heroes too, we just have to be willing to try.