Before The Avengers came out I didn’t get the superhero craze swallowing our culture. It just didn’t appeal to me. In an attempt to figure out what the hype was about, I rented Captain America and Thor. In the five hours those films took, I understood the craze and joined in.
According to The Box Office, The Avengers is third on the list of top domestic movies that have made the most amount of money in theaters. So, what exactly is it about this movie that drew us in by the millions to invest our time and money into watching the film? Well, I and a few guest bloggers are going to try to answer those questions and provide some personal insight into this topic in the next few weeks.
- Even though we live in a confused and self-indulging culture, the majority of people like seeing a strong force for good overcome a force of evil: we want the good guys to win. Superhero movies seem to fulfill a part of our desire for a world where good wins no matter how evil the bad guys get. When we walk into the theater to watch The Avengers we understand beforehand that there is no way Loki will win in the end. It’s just not going to happen. We have complete confidence that The Avengers will be able to fight it out and destroy whatever evil plot is going to take of the world this time around! Our hunger for justice is satisfied…and we’re entertained at the same time.
- At the same time, we personally long to make a significant contribution to ending evil in the world, but since evil is so pervasive in our culture our desire is crushed by the feeling that one person can only do so much. When we watch a superhero film, we see that personal desire made manifest in a single superhero obliterating evil and establishing justice. We really want to feel that way. We want to be the one person to make a big difference. And while there is truth to the statement that there is only so much one person can do in the non-fantasy world around us, it shouldn’t stop us from taking the first step…because if watching a superhero film is enough to satisfy our hunger for making a difference…than we are in trouble.
- Which leads me to my next observation: it is part of our human nature to find someone, something or some standard to look up to; God created us that way. I believe that our general obsession with superheroes is an effect of that natural desire. While I do not (and should not) worship superheroes, there is an admiration that I have for their character that is healthy. We should aspire to fight against wrong even if it means sacrificing our own physical safety. We should get back up when we’ve been beaten down. We should put other’s needs before our own. A movie that encourages us to live selflessly deserves some applause. Yet, just another question to think about…how often do these films actually encourage us to go and do those things?
Now, let’s be real, there are a few more obvious and lighthearted reasons as to why superhero movies attract our attention and what makes the fight of good vs. evil and the role model heroes so appealing.
First, it is completely unrealistic fiction. Everything in a superhero movie—the battle scenes; the immortality of the heroes; the abilities of the superheroes; the odds against the superheroes; the out-of-this-world villains and the comic ability of Iron Man to laugh in the face of danger (literally)—stimulates our imagination and makes us want more…because we wish it could be possible.
Third, the guy always gets the girl (unless he’s Captain America…but more on that in a later post) and everybody likes it when the good guy gets the girl. Admit it.
Fourth, they’re funny. I mean, really, half of the fun of watching a superhero movie is listening to and falling out of our chairs at all of the banter and jokes. As one friend described The Avengers, “It was two-and-a-half hours of explosion after wise crack after explosion after wise crack after explosion. Repeat the awesomeness.”
Fifth, the action scenes are simply way too much fun to watch. Example: Black Widow fighting off three guys while tied to a chair—the epitome of amazingly hilarious impossibility.
So, did I get it right? Are these all reasons why we like superheroes? Any more reasons to add to the list?