OK, no arguing with the box office. Comic book heroes are boffo with the cinema public. Of course that public is largely confined to the 13-24 year olds for whom brawn, beauty and boffo are what count most. Still, our comic book phenomenon is too sweeping to smugly sweep under the rug of audience puerility.
There’s something more going on here.
Taking a second look, you notice an equal number of comic book villains too. A perfect counter-point of villain to hero to go with our popcorn. First, the horrific villains — from the ever popular vampire and zombie in the rather obvious rubber faces. Next, the hallelujah heroes — Batman, Spider Man, Captain America, Iron Man.
Life doesn’t get much neater than that!
Maybe this is precisely what’s going on here. In a world careening off all the tracks we were taught to travel on, life often seems out of control. I mean, who can calculate a mess of statistics being thrown at us like hand-grenades…? Who can fathom a recession that simply won’t stop receding…? Who can measure the actual geopolitical dangers to our civilization when we know only what we are supposed to know…?
Drum roll…! Fanfare…! Enter a Hollywood hero to smite the might of the evil ones! We cheer in our seats because, well, because cocooned safely in our seats is the best place from which to slay all the bad stuff in our lives.
Call it fun. Call it catharsis. Call it whatever fits your needs. But later over pizza and beer at your favorite watering hole, come on now, don’t you feel just a little safer about your unsafe world? You know it’s all make-believe. Still, we all want to believe. Need to believe. Believe in the pit of our tummy that there really are people in our world taking care of us.
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