It may be impossible to weigh in on the popularity of the Superhero genre without taking a look at the two companies that control the lion’s share of it — Marvel (owned by Disney) and DC (owned by Time Warner). Let’s set aside that both of their parent companies epitomize capitalism at its worst and focus on heroes. I like both universes and intellectual property from both companies, but I’ve always had a soft spot for the Marvel heroes.
I’m not sure I can put my finger on it exactly. Maybe it’s because the front runners of Marvel seem more human, and by more human I really mean more flawed and often weaker. Captain America’s strength and agility is nothing compared to Superman’s ability to blow out the sun (Superman #91). Superheroes in the DC Universe are usually heroes that occasionally deal with human stuff — Superman’s love life and Batman’s attraction to Robin. Superheroes in the Marvel Universe tend to be humans that occasionally deal with super stuff. Tony Stark was a weapons manufacturer and business man long before he was Iron Man. Peter Parker was just a dork, an extremely intelligent dork, long before he became Spider-Man. Captain America was just an ordinary guy until he underwent an experiment super soldier treatment. So was the Hulk. Only Thor is actually super by his own merit.
Of course, you might find DC more interesting. Most superheroes are people who have a super alter ego, but Superman’s alter ego is Clark Kent. Superman is the real person. He doesn’t really belong here, so he has to make up an identity so he can fit in. Of course some adaptations, including the 90s TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, mess this up and make Clark Kent the dominate personality. I suppose that makes sense. A mask can become you, but I think Superman is deeper when his “real life” is an act.
I don’t know what I’ll end up posting about for the next 18 days, but if I stick to what I know I’ll be in the Marvel Universe. If I branch out, I’ll land in the DC Universe.