Superheroes as Wish Fulfillment

Perhaps our returning fascination with superheroes is a part of one of our deepest desires — the desire for safety.  It seems to me that we live in a world with plenty of Jokers and no Batman, plenty of Lex Luthers no Superman, plenty of Doc Ocks… okay, maybe not that last one.

A lot of that is just my imagination, I know.  Americans are a lot safer than they were 20 years ago.  Violent crimes rates have dropped.  (So have teen pregnancy and divorce rates.)  But I still wonder if the world might be a bit better if Batman had just happened to be catching a movie in Aurora, Colorado instead of being in a movie, or if Superman had been in New York on September 11, 2001.  What if Spider-Man or Captain America had been present at Sandy Hook elementary?

Of course, that’s all wishful thinking.  Even in a world with superheroes, I can’t be sure they’d make it to every major disaster or any disaster really.  Still, shouldn’t there be something bigger and better looking after our children? Ourselves?

Maybe superheroes are popular because we exist in a world where heroes die, like the two school administrators that confronted the Sandy Hook shooter or the elderly professor at Virginia Tech.  Real heroes suffer and die.  They fail more often than not.  Maybe we don’t need more heroes, just more super in our world.

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