Superheroes as Existential Longings

In my last post I talked about superhero emulation as a way of being popular, a simple common fantasy.  In this post I’ll talk about superheroes as a more complex, less self-centered fantasy.  Perhaps superhero infatuation starts as hero worship, but it stays with us as a salve to purposelessness.

Humans tend to long for usefulness.  We want to be productive, to build and create, but most of us spend most of our lives stuck.  I spent today stuck.  I played some videogames, read a story I don’t remember, programmed a website no one will use, then watched TV.  I imagine Superman’s day went more like this:

Woke up. Was Superman.  Saved some people.  Had lunch.  Saved some people. Had dinner. Defended earth from aliens/terrorists/mutants/super villains.  Saved some people. Went to bed feeling productive, useful, and loved.

Superman has purpose in life.  He knows who he is.  He’s Superman!  His ability to fly, shoot laser beams from his eyes, and bounce bullets off of his incredible pecks make him unique and special.  Do you know what’s different about you when compared to anyone else on earth?  I don’t know whats special about me.  I seem very average, and nothing I do today will have lasting impact.  Programming doesn’t save lives.  At least, not yet.

Maybe superheroes fascinate us as a way to allow simple escape from the mediocre.

Posted in Philosophy. Tagged with , .

2 Responses

Leave a Reply