Saturday, October 23, 2010

super hero's

I've been wanting to do something like this for a while but kept holding back since I realized how big it would be.  that is until I realized I could just break it up into different sections.  so while I'm not sure how frequently I'll be doing this, but I'd like to spend some time examine some of the different things that make certain genre's and sub genre's work and what sort of appeal they have.  at the very least I hope this will be informative and entertaining, but I'm also hoping doing this will help me flesh out the stories and games I'd like to make in the future. 

first up the super hero genre, for the record I'll be including a bit more than just the traditional super hero's I'll keep close to what causes the appeal but what I'm including will include people like the punisher as well as the power rangers.

It was a quote from Kinsey Hope’s (gender bitch) tumblr that prompted me to start thinking about this.  it would probably take days to dig through her tumblr to find the exact post but the general jist is that her life experiences and her work in social justice had changed her concept of evil from the "big bad guy" to something more akin to thousands of paper cuts that dig deeper until they reach the bone. 

hopefully you'll forgive the slightly graphic nature of that description but it got me to think, maybe that's part of the reason why super hero fiction is has successful has it is. most of us by the time were adults have realized that evil very rarely has a singular face, and is quite often coming from everywhere, yet the comic book movie is one of the biggest genre's and comic books (which are primarily but not exclusively super hero) make up a million dollar market, and it’s been that way for a long time.  and one of the biggest things they have in common is the presence of colossally evil forces. Now, big uniformly and very powerful evil forces may not seem like a better option but, they come with two things.  the first being it effectively consolidates the evil in the world, since I don't read a lot of comics my view may be skewed, but from what I've seen they don't usually have the all to real situation of evil coming from everywhere, the manage to give it a form.  Now I do know of some exceptions, particularly when they have people like cops in on the evil, but there still giving some sort of from, giving people the ability to metaphorically fight against it.

Which leads me to the second thing that consolidating the evil does.  it gives us the actual super hero's most of which act as symbols of hope, and epitomize the good people are capable of,  I have heard many people who seem to actually use some super hero's to help them give them the strength to choose to do the right thin.  heck this even has some advantages, when the super hero's start having a fall from grace or making really bad choices people are able to blame the writers (like what most fans did with spider man's recent deal with the devil).  and in the cases were the hero is doing stuff we clearly aren't suppose to look up to, hero's like The Punisher,  it's likely to be more in the actual revenge aspect,  those hero's are doing to the same kind of things to the bad guys that the bad guys do to others, things most people can't do.

and of course it would be downright lazy of me not to mention the spectacle of it.  heck I think that's one of the reasons why I liked power rangers growing up.  most super hero battles actually look cool, over the top martial arts, super powers, someone suddenly coming from the shadows, that in and of itself is a lot of fun and I'm sure a major contributor to there appeal, especially for the colorful super heroes.
Feel free to comment if you feel I’m wrong or feel I’ve missed something, in fact please do, like I mentioned at the beginning I’d like to learn more about the appeals of different genre’s from this exercise so anything you can add will be greatly appreciated. 


  1. I think you are correct. I haven't read many comics myself but growing up I would follow the Spider-man, Batman, Superman, and X-Men shows almost religiously. A lot of the appeal is in the symbolism and the consolidation. Having a symbol of hope come along and beat down a meanie is something that a lot of people across age brakes and from different cultures can identify with and enjoy.

    But as you mentioned there is also the darker side to heroes, ones that exhibit the archetype of the anti-hero, Punisher or times were a hero must do something out of their nature for a good cause. I think a great work that depicts heroes in a not so glorious and if anything realistic nature is Watchmen. A friend lent me his copy a while before the movie came out and I literally did not stop reading it until I was finished. Well, kind of. I sort of fell asleep while reading it, woke up the next day and finished it. >_>
    Anyway it is a great work that illustrates the point that heroes are not immune to the imperfections of humanity. Overall great, thought provoking stuff that everyone should read/watch.

  2. Besides Watchmen and the darker graphic novels, the series Wild Cards, perhaps the best ever shared worlds epic, is really worth looking at.
    Its one of the most literate in exploring the super hero in relation to marginalised communities too.