When you think of a superhero one normally thinks of Spiderman, Batman, or Superman, but there were superheroes long before these characters were created. First one must understand that the basis of this name is hero. What is a hero? A hero is a person who does something special or out of the ordinary in order to help others. It could also be someone who is admired for a characteristic about them, be it physical or mental.
They are individuals that normal everyday people can look up to. This being the case, a superhero is nothing more then someone who is a hero, but not just that once and for that one person, but someone who helps many people, or leads them. As time went by the number of people who were true heroes diminished and just doing something for someone was no longer big news. There had to be something more to make them stand out.
The American culture needed someone or something to admire and that is where our common day superheroes come into play. It gave them a goal which could never be reached in hopes that people would never stop trying. When one thinks about it, though it may be hard to believe, superheroes stem from God. This began as early back as Greek gods, then leading to Jesus. Jesus was a seemingly normal man who helped everyone, and led people. He was the ultimate superhero of his time.
Once he was gone and became no more than a story passed down from father to son, people began to crave what was new, what was ‘in the now.’ That is when tales of knights on horses and boys crawling up bean stalks and all the other fairy tales and tall tales began. This can be seen very clearly in the early American settlers. Back towards the beginning of American history we see superheroes arising for the first time in our culture. They were not necessarily able to fly or see through walls. However, they were still extraordinary people. Their stories were passed from father to son and the story grew with every telling.
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People like Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill were just two of the many tales of the time which spoke of men doing extraordinary things. These tales wouldn’t excite forever, though. As years go by our country and its people become less and less na ” ive and craved more. A giant man with a blue ox and an axe just could not suffice.
People become more and more numb to pain and murder, and needed more than these tall tales. It was soon after this that people began looking for someone else to admire, whether they were real or not. Someone who they can not overcome. Someone who will lead them and help them be who they were meant to be. Some look to politicians, others to mob leaders, but either way they are just looking for answers. This became harder for the youth to find.
Sure they had their mothers and fathers, but they could only do so much for them. Then comic books and television came into play. Here they could see these seemingly ordinary people doing amazing things. They wanted to be just like them. It gave them structure and a feeling of guidance. They knew what they wanted to do and they began trying to do it.
Now, children weren’t stupid enough to go out and try to fly, but they could pretend when they played. Jumping from sofa to sofa on there way to saving the girl. But again, as time went on, people wanted more. This is when the superhero movies became a huge deal. For the first time you could actually see your hero doing all the things you had read about them doing. The excitement was back and raging.
superheroes took almost a God like effect on the American culture. The common day phrase, “What Would Jesus Do?” was then, “What Would Superman or Batman Do?” The more movies that came out the stronger the pull of them really was. But as these boys began to grow up, they tried to be more grown up. The movies stopped and people again began searching for something more. This would have happened had it not been for all the war and problems that have arisen over the past 7 or 8 years. When become afraid again and lose all that you could trust, you tend to look for the thing that made you constant.
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A time in your life when you knew what was going on. Superheroes gave that to you. As the new movies began to come out it helped people to forget what was going on around them, and see your common ground with other Americans. All superhero movies are very patriotic, helping to give a sense of pride to the American public. Bringing them back when the country is in trouble not only acts as a security blanket for the people feeling lost, but also acts as a means of uniting the country.
It also helped to introduce a younger generation of Americans to this superhero theme, giving them something to fall back on when things don’t go as planned. Everyone needs something to believe in. Whether it be Superman, or Jesus, you just need that constant. Something you can aspire to, work towards and know there is something more. If it wasn’t for this society would fall apart, and there would be no right from wrong because everyone would have a different view. People need stability, something they know will never go away even when the world seems to be crashing down against them.
Superheroes fill that void and give people a link to one another, unite them, and making them feel stronger. They are the symbol of what America wants to be, and will continue to unite people for generations to come.