“Superhero” movies and their alignment with West cultural moment
Of course, movies and series depicting heroes with superpowers did not gain their popularity due to their entertaining component. Each of these films contains something bigger than nice special effects or guest stars. Superheroes movies reveal such important issues as “the nature of good and evil, love, redemption, sacrifice, loyalty” (Porter 151). These films reveal the eternal values of Western civilization. The heroes may have some unnatural power, improved technology, and extraordinary skills, but they always use these skills to defend ordinary people from various threats. Heroes are also characterized by ordinary beliefs and values.
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Those people having supernatural powers cherish such ordinary things as friendship, family, love, faith, loyalty. Of course, all this makes such films and series very popular. People see that those heroes strive for the same things as everyone does (love, friendship, etc.), but they have more opportunities to succeed in their struggle for happiness. Superheroes manage to gain happiness for themselves and the people around them, so spectators like to see that it is possible to reach the major (super) objectives (like saving the world and arranging one’s one heroic happiness). So, viewers get inspired to achieve their ordinary objectives using their ordinary powers.
Movie messages applicable to contemporary society
Admittedly, any film or series (just like a book or any human creation) has its message to the audience. In the majority of cases, it is some kind of promotion of definite ideas. Thus, superhero films and series are quite didactic. They teach their viewers to cherish the major values and try to act in the right way. It is no mere chance that heroes always “possess the uncanny ability to say or do exactly the right thing at exactly the right time”; of course, they always have “exactly the right friends and exactly the right enemies” (Geivett & Spiegel 34).
Films depicting superheroes teach viewers what is right and what is wrong. The audience is shown how to act in this or that difficult situation. Of course, one understands that it is impossible to fly after a villain, but it is clear that it is necessary to defend the eternal values. Besides, nowadays, more and more films teach that not only superheroes can save or change the world, ordinary people often play an important role in helping them. The message is that it is the responsibility of anyone to be active and try to change the world for the better.
The common feature of “superhero” movies with more-established mythologies
In fact, superheroes existing in contemporary culture are not novice creation. People have always tried to imagine great people who can be a stronghold of the most important values. Thus, modern heroes like Wolverine or Superman have their ancient prototypes, Hercules, Perseus, and many others. According to Browne, every society has its mythology at present, and heroes from the past “were stretched mightily and completely modernized, to make them serve the needs of the present” (Browne 22).
Of course, the mythologies of past and present raise such eternal questions as face-off of good and bad. Heroes have to struggle with the forces of evil-fighting with various villains. By all means, heroes always defeat villains. These heroes bring peace, happiness, and hope to ordinary people. In fact, the majority of mythologies promulgate such values as freedom, love, loyalty. Of course, hero movies and series can be no exception. They are the modern realization of ancient mythologies that will remain up-to-date due to the eternal values they promote.
Browne, R.B. Profiles of popular culture: a reader. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2005.
Geivett, R.D. Faith, Film, and Philosophy: Big Ideas on the Big Screen. Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2007.
Porter, L. Tarnished Heroes, Charming Villains, and Modern Monsters: Science Fiction in Shades of Gray on 21st Century Television. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2010.