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Our fascination with comic superheroes is time-tested. Why do we continue to relate to them?

Update:

Y! Answers staff note: This is the real John Woo!

http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-d8pH0dcoRKeB12yOcnU...

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I think it is partly because we are looking for beings that are good and more powerful than we are to protect us from the big bad guys whom we can't fight on our own. Human beings have always liked myths and pantheons of gods and tales of heros. Think of the stories of the Arabian Nights, and the tales of miracles and prophets and things.

    Each hero has his or her own appeal. Teenagers could relate to Spider Man because he was a teenager with problems just like them. Everybody who has ever been bullied by some tough guy in a dark alley wants Batman do come and beat him up and hold them and take them away from it all. Who has not wished to be Superman, a man above all other men? Or Wonder Woman, for the ladies.

    Comic book writers (good ones) work with the themes their audience wants. In World War II, there were a lot of patriotic heros. I the 70's, Green Arrow and Green Lantern tackled the problems of drug abuse and racism. In later days, some wrirters invented a whole pseduo 'civil rights' theme around supposed 'mutants'.

    But there's more. As American civilization had fallen away from traditional religion, we are looking for powerful moral figures who are above us, who will come to rescue us when we need them. When Jimmy and Lois are saying "Where are you, Superman? We need your help!", are they not praying in the most essential sense of the word...? Check out a book called The Gospel According to Superman (I forget the author, but you can find it on line.) And what goes for Superman goes for many other heros as well.

    Then there are the anti-heros, not bad guys but flawed good guys, for flawed people, who think that because they themselves are not perfect that there could be no perfect super heroes, either. Hulk, Wolverine, Daredevil, there are lots of them. People tend to read about heros they can identify with.

    These are just a few of the reasons.

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  • 1 decade ago

    because we love things that are greater. Faster, stronger, better: it's why we have and watch the Olympics. All that Superheroes are is the embodiment of that desire in a hightened sense. Instead of running a 10 second hundred meter dash, they run a 0.1 second hundred meter dash, and we fantasize about being these people and having that seperation of greatness. Many people want to be the best at something, and everyone has their talents. Some people, though, have talents that aren't awe-inspiring or impressive to the general community. One example is being the best computer programmer at a highschool. They'll probably get a high paying job with an important company and be an essential part of the company, but while in highschool, they are shunned as geeks and losers. That's why there are superheroes. They're loved, they're handsome/beautiful, they have perfect bodies and inhuman talents, and they usually get the beautiful girl. It's the very embodiment of many men's souls put in ink on paper, and it's great, but it doesn't maintain interest. Struggle, whether internal or external, creates interest, and these can't be ordinary people, because our Superheroes have to be better than that. They have to be geniuses, or rich, or also have super powers but with a general malicious intent; hence, the Super Villain. It must be the hero's equal, and in many cases nearly triumphs over our hero, but then some external force, some times embodied by ordinary people, change the current situation in some way allowing the hero to win. In this way, the comic book shows that normal people can make a difference as well, so that when reading the comic book you don't dispair afterwards because you know that you will never have that power.

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  • 5 years ago

    One example is being the best computer programmer at a highschool. They'll probably get a high paying job with an important company and be an essential part of the company, but while in highschool, they are shunned as geeks and losers. That's why there are superheroes. They're loved, they're handsome/beautiful, they have perfect bodies and inhuman talents, and they usually get the beautiful girl. It's the very embodiment of many men's souls put in ink on paper, and it's great, but it doesn't maintain interest. Struggle, whether internal or external, creates interest, and these can't be ordinary people, because our Superheroes have to be better than that. They have to be geniuses, or rich, or also have super powers but with a general malicious intent; hence, the Super Villain. It must be the hero's equal, and in many cases nearly triumphs over our hero, but then some external force, some times embodied by ordinary people, change the current situation in some way allowing the hero to win. In this way, the comic book shows that normal people can make a difference as well, so that when reading the comic book you don't dispair afterwards because you know that you will never have that power.

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  • 4 years ago

    They'll probably get a high paying job with an important company and be an essential part of the company, but while in highschool, they are shunned as geeks and losers. That's why there are superheroes. They're loved, they're handsome/beautiful, they have perfect bodies and inhuman talents, and they usually get the beautiful girl. It's the very embodiment of many men's souls put in ink on paper, and it's great, but it doesn't maintain interest. Struggle, whether internal or external, creates interest, and these can't be ordinary people, because our Superheroes have to be better than that. They have to be geniuses, or rich, or also have super powers but with a general malicious intent; hence, the Super Villain. It must be the hero's equal, and in many cases nearly triumphs over our hero, but then some external force, some times embodied by ordinary people, change the current situation in some way allowing the hero to win. In this way, the comic book shows that normal people can make a difference as well, so that when reading the comic book you don't dispair afterwards because you know that you will never have that power.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I'll answer even though I know this post will get lost in the 1900+ answers that have already been submitted. I'm also aware that somewhere in those 1900+ answers is my answer... just scattered. Not sure if I'll bring anything new to the table, and I don't have a lot of time, but here goes:

    Answer:

    I believe superheroes give us hope. Deep down in each one of us there is a hero waiting to emerge. Although we cannot fly or shoot beams from our eyes, we do want to do good in the world (most of us). Reading comic book stories lets us know that we are not alone and that many other people want to make a difference as well.

    There are those of us that believe that superheroes aren't too far fetched of a concept. There superheroes that roam the Earth today, in the intellectual sense anyways. Genious' and Savants are just human being who were granted the ability or "superpower" to use more than the usual 10% of our brains. Some amazing things have already been done by these intellectual dynamos and telekinesis and other awesome "powers" (in my opinion) are not too far away. Whenever the time comes that mankind learns to operate with the full capacity (100%) of their brains then, I believe, anything will be possible... even being a superhero.

    Summary:

    Superheroes give us hope.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I think the answer lies with the first of the superheroes, Superman, he appeared when Hitler was beginning to show signs of world conquest and life was becoming scary. The character symbolized America. No matter what happened Superman will win and everything will be OK. It became a comfort zone. However scary life becomes theres this world where the good win and the evil is stopped. The characters change but the idea is the same. What ever demon haunts history at that moment a hero can emerge and vanquish it in the comic book universe. When 911 happened Marvel printed an Amazing Spider-man comic which had the heroes arrive to lend a hand to the rescue efforts. They mirrored the heroics of the actual police, firefighters and emts on the scene (not to mention the ordinary citizens) and showed hope for a brighter tomorrow.

    That's my answer at least. I hoped it helped but hey I could be wrong and people just like the idea that they can leap tall buildings in a single bound or bend steel in their bare hands. I'll stick with hoping the ideal of truth, justice and the American way haven't disappeared entirely.

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  • 1 decade ago

    We are fascinated with superheroes because they can do no wrong and they can put things right. Good over evil. We relate because we can not do what they can. Everyone needs heros whether in the comic, real life or imaginary. We ordinary people want to believe in something. That there are people out there that can change the world and make it a better place to live. The majority of people of the world are followers not leaders and those that are leaders are there for selfish reasons in the place or position that they are in to make them selves look good and profitable not for the people who are considered everyday workers and make the world go round on an everyday basis. So keep the comic book heroes or any other heros that come up from time to time, so that we may all enjoy the world a little better.

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  • 1 decade ago

    My reason for loving superheroes and comics in general is because I think it would be an awesome thing to have some kind of super human power that no one else or only a few others would have. It has nothing to do with the power per say with me, so much as it would be fun being able to do something fantastic and knowing that I could put my power to good use and help others and hopefully in the process change the world at the same time. I think we are so disgusted by politicians and all of their lies and the corruption of big business, it's refreshing to see something out there that really does stand for the values that we as a country hold dear, even if it is just make believe. I think that maybe these movies or heroes will inspire real people to do great things.

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  • 1 decade ago

    If I recall the story correctly, the Superman character was created during WWII and was used for a psychological boost in fighting the Nazis.

    The need for the superhero is rooted in our turbulant times, and we need a buffer between us and the troublesome world. As we dream of some "miraculous" solution to solve our problems -- like winning the lottery -- the superhero fills another fantasy.

    The hero will - in gaining his (her) own super-power no only help themselves, but now also has the ability to reach out and help others; to take control in a major way and make a difference.

    The American society has become a thoughtless humdrum of medioracity. We pursue the rat-race, come home exhausted, and pay the bills. We are lead around by advertising, pay other people for their permission to spend our money (credit cards), are caught up in personal comfort concepts that only extend the medioracity and spend more money.

    However it is obtained, spider bite or radiation leak, the superhero fantasy is the reaching out and dreaming of a life that might actually mean something -- and even contribute to the betterment of the world around us.

    I will close with an editorial twist. The United States has 5% of the world population, yet we have 25% of all the prisoners of the world locked in our prisons. These prisons operate with a sturcture with was created in the late 1700 / early 1800's, and we are doing nothing to change things.

    This nation has more laws to prevent citizens from doing enjoyable things. You can not wear green because I don't like it!

    Yet we hold ourselves up to the world as loving, caring, Christians, with patience, understanding, etc. etc.

    Perhaps the superhero freak / monster / alian is such a desirable escape mechanism because their freakish-ness is more desirable than the reality of what we are ... hypocrites that turn our back on our fellow man in trouble so that we may not get involved -- as we maintain our humdrum mediocraty.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Hope, plain and simple.

    While we all want to believe that the world is such a great place, we still imagine a land where that one ‘super’ human can always come in and save the day. It is true, the superhero films do give us escapism and something for little kids to dream about becoming… and they always win in the end – even after many trials and tribulations.

    I remember being young and dreaming of a day when I would sling my web like spider-man. Now my son dreams of similar things. He is four. He just knows that when he grows up he is GOING to be a Power Ranger.

    But now, in 2006, we need a figure or perhaps many figures that we could tag with the ‘superhero’ name. Within the next 3 months, we are going to need some individuals to rise up and help expose the tyranny. The world is heading into a direction that only select handfuls want to see and where the masses will once again become the herded sheep. The government was created “by the people and FOR the people”. So US people need to take it back.

    So why don’t people NOT watch network TV at least once a month, or possibly instead of sleeping late on Sunday morning – you take that time to do your own investigation of what is going on in the world around you. You, the person reading this, might become “EYES WIDE OPEN – MAN”, or “SPREAD THE WORD – WOMAN”.

    And here is a novel idea, when you hear those “crazy conspiracy theories”, don’t just instantly poo poo them. Why don’t you listen and at least CONSIDER their validity. Even if you cannot bring yourself to consider such a situation to be fact, you do empower yourself by having the knowledge that such theories exist.

    I challenge everyone to watch the movie “Good Night and Good Luck”. In this movie you will see the one of the most unlikely of REAL LIFE superheroes, one Edward R Murrow. For those of you that do not know his story, I will leave it up to you to research it. He used his “super skills” to defeat the evil. This movie is sign, it is pleading with others to use their powers.

    You may not know it, few do – but we have some little known superheroes. Lou Dobbs, Alex Jones and some others are becoming this generation’s superheroes. Again, you don’t know how or why they are starting to achieve such a status? Guess what, the evil they are fighting knows… and soon, SO SHALL YOU.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It is our need to relate to someone bigger and better than ourselves. That is also why the "trend" towards religion of late. In the 80's, the world was starting to turn into a really dangerous place both physically and emotionally, so we were seeking guidance, and since the superhero ethos was very black and white (note the 'was' ), there was no need for moral decisions. And the superheroes rocketed up! Then came the '90's and the 21st century and 9/11.

    We ceased to believe.

    After all, the world is NOT black and white and moral decisions are needed badly. Yet, we still want to believe.

    So the resurgence of Superheroes, who can do what we cannot do, not only resist temptation but sweep it away, and do the right thing all the time.

    Long Live Superheroes.

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