Behind the Mask: Why We Love Superheroes

Nadine Druar, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Why do we love superheroes? What about Batman or Captain America has allowed them to stay around as long as they have?

“I like Batman because he has no superpowers, yet he can still kick butt,” said Morgan Schram, a student at NDA.

Ben Weber, a freshman at NDA, paused and took a moment to decide who was his favorite superhero. I can relate. With so many to chose from, it’s hard to pick just one. Finally, Weber settled on one of the most popular, Captain America, because of his interest in World War II.

“My favorite is Hawkeye because he’s a good shot, like a modern-day Legolas,” said Rebekah Witte.

Almost everyone has a favorite superhero (mine is Dr. Strange if you’ve ever even heard of him) be he or she well-known or not, whether that hero is Marvel, DC, or another brand. I’m not going to delve into the argument of Marvel versus DC. That’s a fight I’d rather not get into.

I believe that part of our obsession with superheroes is simply the convenient escape into the world of a being with greater powers than we could ever dream of having, a chance for us to enter Gotham or an alternate version of New York City, where grown men and women fly around in spandex, yell cool one-liners, and aren’t laughed at when they do so.

But, for all the hero or heroine’s great powers, he or she can be as flawed as us. Heroes aren’t perfect; they have problems, so we can relate to them.

Take, for example, Spider-Man. He has saved countless people from death at the hands of super villains and criminals, but he still suffers from guilt and makes mistakes just like the rest of us. He has a job and bills to pay. His boss won’t let him miss work just because he got beaten to a pulp by the Hobgoblin at three in the morning.

The heroes’ nobility also attracts us, I think. We admire their commitment to doing what is right, even when it comes at great personal cost. Heroes will risk their lives to protect a person they love or even a complete stranger, not because they aren’t afraid, but because they know that it is within their ability and the right thing to do.

Or, to quote Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Other than being an interesting read, comic books have also reflected the struggles and issues of the times that they were in. The Black Panther was created by Marvel during the Civil Rights Movement as the first black superhero.

Whether the reason a person likes superheroes is the story, the art, or something else entirely, the fact remains that superheroes are something special. Their personalities, faces, and even their identities may change over the years, but they have entertained and inspired people for decades and will hopefully continue to do so for decades to come.