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The Art of Superheroes (1 Viewer)

This is the first piece I'm going to post (so don't be too critical :wink: )
I wrote it last summer after watching Spiderman-2... It's a reflection story, of sorts. It explores the connections between being a superhero, and being a human. Enjoy!

I’ve always had a thing for superheroes, despite (or perhaps because of) my penchant for the girlier side of life. Growing up, I loved Superman, Batman and Robin, and of course Wonderwoman. I secretly watched the Power Rangers as a sixth-grade cheerleader-in-training. I’ll even admit to renting Supergirl so many times by the age of six that the local video store just went ahead and gave it to me (this is fact). Society told me as a female to lose interest in these things upon entering adolescence, so I did. Only recently, since meeting my boyfriend, have I been reintroduced to the amazing and romantic world of superheroes. I’ve seen several superhero movies in the last year or so, pretty much all of which were good. Only one though, has given me an “Ah ha!” moment: Spider-Man 2.

Spider-Man 2 really hit home with me, more so in fact than any other recent movie. After watching it Friday evening, I wasn’t quite sure what exactly about it gave me such a tremendous feeling of complete satisfaction. All I knew is that this movie made me feel great, far beyond the usual warm and fuzzy feelings that follow superb films. It made me laugh, it had me very close to tears, and most of all, it allowed for a profound feeling of excitement combined with that utter feeling of sheer satisfaction. Yet I wondered why- I mean, after all, superheroes aren’t real, or are they?

Upon reflection, I realized that it was the portrayal of Peter Parker, a.k.a., “Spider-Man,” that made this movie soar above all others for me. Spider-Man is the epitome of the classic superhero archetype. He has superhuman abilities such as stopping moving subway trains and shooting cob webs, he battles villains like Dr. Octopus, and he saves lives such as that of his aunt, thus earning the admiration of bystanders and the spite of enemies.

What does it for me, though, is that behind the Spider-Man mask there is an emotionally vulnerable and sensitive human being with whom you want to laugh with when the mops keep falling out of the closet, blush for when he trips walking down the street, and cry for when his love announces her engagement to another man. As I watched, I truly felt his pain. Peter Parker is a superhero in every sense of the word, but he is also a real person with real emotions with which we can all relate, and the juxtaposition of these two aspects of his being is displayed beautifully in Spider-Man 2, hence making me one very happy filmgoer.

Going beyond the sphere of this one movie, with Peter Parker as the prime example, it is safe to say that superheroes as a whole have real human qualities in addition to their superhuman abilities, thus drawing us towards them. If superheroes didn’t have a trace of human quality in them and we couldn’t relate to them at all, I wonder then what would the draw be?

Aside from the Peter Parker example, think back a few months to Hellboy. Although perhaps he is not necessarily a “superhero,” he is a “full-fledged demon in the form of a man, raised as a force of good” (Yahoo! Movies, 2004), with definite superhuman qualities. Hellboy is also self-conscious of his horns, in love with Liz, and fond of kittens. He’s incredibly human, yet at the same time, very “superhuman.” What’s not to like about him?

To me, the idea that a superhero can be so human is strikingly romantic. If only they could exist in reality, sweeping down from who knows where to rescue us, then sweeping us off our feet in the meantime… In actuality, I think they do. Superheroes, on a more “earthly,” symbolic level, may be considered those in our lives who come in and save us in their own ways, whether it be through something newsworthy such as pushing us out of the line of fire, or through something personal, such as loving us and helping us to smile in a way that no one else can. These people are all human, yet they save us in special ways that only [they] can, thus giving them a “superhuman” quality of sorts. Think of it this way: in Spider-Man 2, Peter Parker is obviously Mary Jane’s superhero, but she, an everyday civilian, is just as much his superhero as he is hers, for reasons only the movie can reveal…Sure, these real “superhuman” qualities are not as fancy as shooting cob webs from fingers, but their effect is as powerful if not more so. Spider-Man and other famed superheroes serve as character archetypes for the everyday “superhumans” who love us, care for us, and ultimately save us. The romanticist that I am, to see this archetype displayed so well in Spider-Man 2 made me incredibly happy as I sat next to my very own real-life “superhero.” No wonder I’ve always been so fascinated with superheroes.


Senior Member
I agree. Seeign that people with super-powers are also people - vulnerable, often confused and just looking for acceptance is always good.

Spiderman 2 did a fair job of this, but it's been the recent trend lately to do this sort of thing. Look at The Incredibles or, to a lesser extent, to X-Men and other movies of their ilk.

I'm sorry that you felt forced to abandon your love of superheros as a youth, but I'm glad that you've found them again.

Scott Tuplin

Senior Member
this is an excellent piece, i thinks its very cool also

however, is there are superheroes in everybody, surely theres villians in some people too...
It's true about there being villains... That actually reminds me of a thought I had after watching "Phantom of the Opera," one of my all time favorites. I thought that the Phantom sort of represents the hidden dark side that we all probably have... No matter how open we are, we all have parts of ourselves we want to hide. I'm not sure if that makes sense, I haven't thought about it enough, but it's a similar idea... I'll ponder it some more! :)