Exploring DC Superhero Movies: What Makes a Great Hero?
Why do certain superhero movies personally and emotionally resonate with you? Sometimes the reasons are obvious: a great story, memorable characters, stellar performances, cool special effects and awesome direction.
Maybe you wish you could have the superhero’s powers? Sometimes, it’s harder to put a finger on exactly why a particular superhero captures the imagination while others are forgettable.
Superheroes use their extraordinary abilities to perform heroic deeds. Their struggle to overcome conflict should imbue something meaningful.
There are many different types of heroes. Some don’t fit neatly into a category but the building blocks of a superhero are universal patterns. Here are several qualities you might see in a superhero and what they tell us about the human condition:
Deadpool and The Punisher shoot first, ask questions … later?? They are considered to be anti-heroes. Fortunately, there are other types of less trigger-happy heroes.
The Savior hero has their own personal morals worked out. They have a strong sense of what is right and wrong in a given context. This type of hero usually strives to exemplify the highest ideals.
For a savior hero to self-sacrifice, he or she must believe there is inherent value in the thing or person they are saving.
There is a message of hope here. The Savior hero believes that despite your faults, you can make things better and make up your wrongs.
Heroes and villains are often cut from the same cloth. As a villain, the Outsider is an unknown entity that poses a dangerous threat. As a hero, the Outsider contributes to the betterment of the group. Sometimes when society becomes stuck in its ways it needs an outside force to bring in new solutions or to update long forgotten wisdom.
Superman is a great example of the Outsider Hero. Born on Krypton, he’s an alien. It’s a characteristic that helps highlight the way he embodies humanity’s best qualities. When you look up at the sky, Superman is the aspirational figure soaring above to remind you of what you can be if you were more courageous.
Another DC superhero is Jason Momoa’s Aquaman who is an outsider to Atlantis. As a half-breed, he has spent his life mostly on the surface and doesn’t know much about Atlantis’ customs. He represents the bridge which unites two worlds: the land and the sea.
‘Touch of Evil’ Hero
It would be naive to formulate a world view which precludes the existence of evil – that no one could intentionally hurt you or that you couldn’t inflict suffering upon others. Some thinkers believe that to understand evil is to make darkness conscious. Knowing all the bad things you are capable of can help keep your dark side at bay.
Some superheroes use the facet of darkness within to confront evil. There wouldn’t be Batman as we know him if it wasn’t for his parents murdered right in front of him. His dark, tragic origin story is the initial catalyst in his transformation into Gotham City’s defender.
Not all heroes touched by evil are brooding billionaires. In Fellowship of the Rings, when Frodo got stabbed by the Black Rider’s cursed knife it would have turned him into a wraith, a very short wraith, if it wasn’t for the elf magic that saved him. But fragments remained inside and Frodo continued to feel pain long after which is a multi-layered metaphor about evil.
In another movie/book series, Harry Potter got the lightning bolt scar as an infant when Voldemort’s kill curse failed. The loving sacrifice of Harry’s mother protected him. This event accidentally resulted in Voldemort sharing a part of his soul inside Harry. The lightning bolt scar represents the link between good and evil.
The Practical Hero
In 2017’s Wonder Women, the Amazonians had one fiduciary duty. Protect mankind. Failing in their responsibility, Diana Prince took it upon herself to venture out of Themyscira and stop Ares, the God of War.
Diana initially believed that Ares was controlling humans like a master puppeteer behind the scenes orchestrating the war. So it was painful for her to accept that the war – with all the death and destruction that comes with it – could not be blamed on Ares. The war was a result of humans contemplating possible scenarios and then experience selecting what they want to happen.
We can accept that we do not have absolute free will to make things happen with a snap of the finger. Unless you happen to have an Infinity Gauntlet, circumstances and outcomes are out of your complete control.
People are born into a poor family or neighborhood, have a disability, become homeless or live in an unjust society through no choice of their own. But are we just a bunch of walking, talking bio-chemical reactions at a particular time and space? Or should we treat one another as if we experience choices in order to form a society based on personal responsibility? The latter would be a society Diana Prince fights for to help those less fortunate.
The above examples play with a bunch of different ideas meant to provoke discussion on hero types. These are not definitive and by no means is an exhaustive list.
Which type(s) of heroes do you most identify with?
Posted on January 13, 2019, in Comics, Movies and tagged Aquaman, Batman, DC Comics, Frodo, Harry Potter, Jason Momoa, Lord of the Rings, Marvel Comics, Superman, Wonder Woman. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.