I Need A Hero

If you weren't aware already, I have a thing for heroes. Superheroes in particular. I think it stemmed from an early love of comic books, wrapped in plastic and double-taped, borrowed from all my guy friends who had back issues as far as I cared to read. This spread to outer space heroes and paranormal heroines and unlikely heroes, but it started with classic superheroes. I've already talked about my superhero influences and how they've affected my writing, but here is a bit of my theory in a nutshell:

In my mind, there are three basic categories of classic superheroes: the patriotic superhero, who reflects the best in all of us and our ideals (e.g. Superman, Captain America, Wonder Woman); the vigilante superhero, who reflects our frustrations when the "official" system fails us and justice must be taken into their own hands (e.g. Batman, Punisher, Judge Dredd); and the everyman, who is like any one of us but finds they have the courage/power/gift to stand up and Do What Is Right (e.g. Spiderman, Green Lantern, Jubilee). We mix and match these iconic archetypes and add a dash of tragedy or vampirism or southern twang, but it's interesting to see when society feels that the world's problems are too big for ordinary people to take on and win, we invent someone larger-than-life to do it for us, even if it's only in fantasy. The one that inspired me last was Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer of 24, a delightfully modern mix of patriot-vigilante that took over the small screen while Matt Damon as Jason Bourne of Bourne Identity took over the big screen at about the same time. Coincidence? I doubt it.

So I find it particularly fascinating to watch the latest incarnation of Superman take flight. A sort of darker patriot/everyman following in the footsteps of a darker Spiderman, black-clad X-Men, and a bottomless-cave-black Batman. The newest trailer takes a long, hard look in crashing, burning, shattering tones of gunmetal grey:

Honestly, I love this! And it makes me think a lot about human ideals and the nature of character and, of course, a lot about writing. Do you think this reflects a want to be good while acknowledging that we've become too cynical for primary colored costumes and chiseled chins? Is this a want to reach out from a dark place, trying to make ourselves in a better image for a more hopeful future? Or is this just another reboot of a well-worn franchise because we can't think of any new or better champions? Are there better heroes and heroines that we can offer the next generation of readers and viewers?

I wonder as a reader, and a writer, who they are and what I can do about it.

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