What is the allure of comic books and the movies they spawn?

The new Captain America is in theaters and kicking butt. After reading some reviews and seeing some interviews I began wondering what the attraction is. I love a good superhero adventure as much as the next person, but what is it that draws us to these stories? I can honestly say I do not know, but I suspect it is a combination of things.


image from inerestingspree.com

Some of it is from childhood. That is where I first got hooked; Spiderman was and still is my favorite! My brother is a Superman fan. Some people loved Batman or the Dark Knight as he is called now. Iron man, The Hulk, or The Avengers for that really big superhero fix. It was fun as a kid to read these stories of people who can do amazing things, and use those amazing things to help the rest of us. It is still fun as an adult and maybe that is why they are doing so well now.

It is no longer, like Trix, just for kids. Graphic novels have been doing well for years, and people no longer look sheepish when they say they are reading comic books. Going to see the latest superhero movie is talked about in water cooler moments the world over. Comic Con is a massive event now, and again there is less sheepishness in admitting the desire to go to one. I would love to, and fully intend to the first chance I get. I think as a culture we have finally given in to the need to let our inner child out from time to time. It is freeing, relaxing, and we can forget about the dismal day to day of work and bad news on the television.

It also could be that we, as a culture, like violent movies and images. Superhero movies make indulging a little less of a guilty pleasure because, A. it’s a comic hero, it is not serious, and B. they fighting for all the right reasons, to save the day. Most of the movies, in the end, have no ambiguity to the bad guys. They need to be stopped, period. Sure the faces behind the masks have their own problems but when they put on the suits it is all about mom, apple pie and baseball. At least that is what we tell ourselves. The fact that the heroes are in costumes and masks adds just a touch of silliness, that take away from how serious the crimes and people committing them are. No matter how nasty the criminals, most of the time they are in costumes too.

These are just two thoughts on why comics and the resulting movies are so popular. It could be a bit of both, one or another, or neither and I am full of it. It does make me wonder though. What about you?



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