The modern superhero
Look! Up in the sky! Its prettier than a bird; its mightier than an Amazon drone. Its a superhero!
Face it; superheroes always have beautiful bodies and some super power. And if the successful Marvel and DC films are to be believed, they always follow the same Hollywood script.
Scary robot? Superhero time. Alien invasion? Superhero summit. Donald Trump? Superhero pending.
Basically, the movies perpetuate the notion that in times of danger, an altruistic superhuman will always come to our rescue. (Alternatively, this implies that in perilous times, we neednt help others because someone else will. Had we followed such an idea, more lives might have been lost in the Paris terror attacks.) In actuality, waiting for a superhero to appear is like waiting for a snow day in Lake Oswego.
But that doesnt mean that we dont have heroes.
Traditionally, our heroes were soldiers, doctors, firefighters and police. These were the classic four who portrayed strength and good citizenship in protecting our countrys ideals: freedom, health, safety and locating lost pets. (Have you read the Police Log?) But we cannot limit ourselves to just four; weve all seen what a flop the Fantastic Four was.
The traditional heroes have no superhuman capabilities. They are no different from us. That is why we laud them. For example, my favorite superhero is Iron Man.
Although he is a playboy and billionaire, he doesnt have a super power. He just has intelligence. He epitomizes the notion that by following ones strengths (in his case, engineering genius), we can develop our own super powers. Then, with a touch of altruism and confidence, we can all be heroes.
Unfortunately, it is not that easy. Self-doubt is a more daunting villain than Darth Vader and prevents us from achieving our full potential. Fear of failure becomes our kryptonite until we realize that success is often simply the ability to persevere. Once we break that barrier, we unlock our first power: self-confidence. Then, we use that power to pursue our passions. In this pursuit, we gain super powers and become our own heroes.
The next step in our training is altruism: the unselfish ability to care about others well-being. Circumstances can bring altruism out, be it sitting with a lonely individual or offering encouragement to someone who is struggling to survive without Chipotle.
In a world plagued by terror, we need heroes now more than ever. We cant always escape to the movie theater. We cant give up because we dont look like movie superheroes. Theres no CGI in real life. We must be introspective to gain our powers, not survive gamma radiation or a radioactive spider bite.
Ultimately, superhero movies succeed because they can inspire us. They bring us hope in the darkest of times; they remind us that we are not alone. Altruism is heroisms sidekick, and we are all capable of heroism.
The world that all heroes-in-training face isnt without risks. Late last month, Peter Gold survived being shot while trying to stop a kidnapping in New Orleans. Like the rest of us, he cant fly and he isnt Batman. But he left the safety of his car and stopped a kidnapping. No music, no cape, just the light from within. A light that we can all kindle.