Spiritual Formation Institute
The Ultimate Superheroes
Dr Alex Tang
I love the beautiful artwork done by Bryan Hitch on the cover of EMPIRE
November 2006 issue. I am looking forward to the coming years' offerings of
Spiderman 3, Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider, Iron Man (finally) and Captain America.
Who could play Captain America. EMPIRE offers Martin Henderson, Aaron Eckhart
and Will Smith (huh!). I will love to see the Mighty Thor on the big screen.
Marvel seems to have bounced back from being a bankrupt comic book firm to
become Hollywood's hottest money spinners. In 8 years, Marvel has produced 13
movies which grossed them more than four billion dollars!
Blade (1998) $131 million
X-Men (2000) $ 296 million
Blade II (2002) $155 million
Spider-man (2002) $822 million
Daredevil (2003) $179 million
X-Men II (2003) $408 million
Hulk (2003) $245 million
The Punisher (2004) $55 million
Spider-man II (2004) $784 million
Blade: Trinity (2004) $129 million
Elektra (2005) $57 million
Fantastic Four (2005) $330 million
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) $446 million
This does not include the DC comics superheroes such as the Batman (begins,
begun, begone) and Superman (returns, returning, and still returning). While it
translate to a lot of money for these franchises, it also meant that many people
are watching these movies at the cinemas (not to mention even more watching them
on VCD and DVDs). The question is why are so many people watching these
While we cannot exclude that the special effects are spectacular, that may not
be the only reason. I would suggest that these movies are popular because of our
inherent need for heroes.
Since 9/11, the world have proved to be a darker and more dangerous place. And
many of us have felt betrayed by our own leaders and governments. Presidents
have lied through their teeth. One country invaded another on the flimsiest of
pretence. So we looked for heroes; those whom we can trust, who will not betray
us for their own agendas. We looked at sports persons, supermodels,
actors/actresses and even talent time winners (American/Malaysia/Singapore
idols). Yet one by one, our heroes displayed their clay feet and fell.
So we turn back to our proven heroes from the comic books. These guys are
dependable. They will sacrifice everything for the good of others. Their motto
is "with great power, comes great responsibilies". What if they are a conflicted
adolescent (Peter Parker/Spiderman), a man who needs anger management (Bruce
Banner/Hulk), a psychiatrist's nightmare (Bruce Wayne/Batman), a die-hard
idealist (Steve Rogers/Captain America), a fallen Catholic (Matt
Murdock/Daredevil) or have problem with pride (Banner/Thor). Flawed in their own
ways, we knew they will come through in the end. We knew that they will give up
everything, put aside their problems and save us. In failing to find heroes in
the real world, we escape for a few hours at least, to a world where Good always
triumph in the end-a bit bruised, of course.
And coming back to the real world, we find that we still need superheroes.
Chesterton said that the extraordinary people are the ordinary people living
ordinary lives. These are our superheroes.
|posted 16 October 2006|