Superheroes Born on Third Base
Over at The New York Times, Mark Bowden looks into our obsession with superhero movies:
If heroes are idealized humans, then today’s reflect an exaggerated Cult of Self. They are unique, supremely talented beings who transcend laws, even those of nature. Hollywood has always cherished mavericks, but these are, literally, cartoons — computer-generated.
They celebrate exceptionalism and vigilantism. The old American ideal of succeeding through cleverness, virtue and grit is absent, as is the notion of ordinary folk banding together to overcome a threat — think of “It’s a Wonderful Life” or the original “The Magnificent Seven” or any of a dozen World War II-era films. Gone is respect for the rule of law and the importance of tradition and community. Institutions and human knowledge are useless. Religion is irrelevant. Governments are corrupt and/or inept, when not downright evil. The empowered individual is all.
The superhero is an alien or outcast who possesses unique powers acquired either at birth or through some accident or gift. You can imagine the avid consumers of such films electing a president who boasts “I alone” can solve the nation’s problems, and who delights in tagging his domestic and foreign opponents with villainous, comic book monikers — “Crooked Hillary,” “Rocket Man.”
Bowden doesn’t talk about what two of the biggest superhero franchises – Iron Man and Batman – have in common: their wealth provided them means with which they were able to transform themselves into superheroes. Tony Stark was not only a brilliant engineer, he inherited Stark Industries from his father and Bruce Wayne inherited Wayne Industries from his father.
Wealth affording you otherwise unattainable opportunities could not be more relevant in today’s world.