Superheros On the Rise


You can’t go to the theater these days without stumbling upon a superhero. Captain America, Thor, the Green Lantern, and numerous other heroes have adorned the screen within the last year, and many of these will make a return appearance in the upcoming Avengers.

Most of these films made it onto the top-grossing lists this year (further evidence of the interest of our culture in all things speculative), and they’ve lent a surge in popularity to the superhero genre. So what intrigues people about stories featuring superheroes?

  1. They appeal to a desire to be a unique individual capable of offering something significant to the world. For the time that you experience the story, you get to cheer on someone gifted with special abilities–whether inherent, genetically added, given by a special device, or acquired by some other means–and watch them change their world. In reality, as believers, we are ordinary individuals infused with the extraordinary…and superhero tales offer a glimpse into what that might mean on an epic scale.
  2. They provide a happy ending, at least in the sense that the good guys always win. Sometimes this comes at great cost (losing the one you love, giving your own life), but in the end, evil is defeated and good wins out. That’s innately satisfying to most people.
  3. They’re just plain fun. While the superhero genre often deals with life-or-death situations and grievous wrongs perpetrated by black-hearted villains, it also offers a host of thrilling adventures and derring-do on the part of the heroes. Gadgets, devices, and powers add to the cool factor.

I’m sure there are more reasons for the popular appeal, but I think these are some of the big ones. Of course, there are good and bad films/books in this genre as in any other, but superheroes easily spring from the pages of comic books to reach a wider audience on screen because they connect with desires most people experience.

Have you seen any of the recently released films? What about them appealed (or didn’t appeal) to you? Is there a superhero book/film that you would particularly recommend?


  • Mirriam
    August 27, 2011 - 12:30 pm · Reply

    I am a huge fan of superhero movies. Thor, Captain America, the Spider-mans, the Iron Man movies. I think they’re awesome; having a real, solid person who becomes a ‘hero’ by making the right choices, no matter how hard they are (i.e. destroying the Bifrost to save Jotunheim, even if it means never seeing Jane again – Thor is my favorite one *chuckles*). I think they help give us a clear view of what ‘hero’ really means; something that this society has largely lost.
    I’m VERY hyped for the Avengers movie 🙂 🙂

    • Sarah Sawyer
      August 29, 2011 - 5:58 pm · Reply

      I have enjoyed many of the recent superhero movies also. I especially appreciate the ones that place a value on good character, not just the super powers. I thought Captain America and Thor both did a good job in this arena–showing true heroes (or men that grow into true heroes) that also happen to be superheroes. I’m pretty intrigued by the upcoming Avengers film also. They’ve given themselves a lot of story to weave together, but if it comes off well it could be great.

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