Superheroes, Hegemony, and Normal People


I am thoroughly convinced that our reactions to superheroes says all anyone needs to know about our personalities. Now, I’ll admit, I never really was one for comic books, but turn those books into cartoons or movies, and I am all over it. I haven’t come up with any codified system for explaining personalities based on superheroes, but I tend to judge people based on how they feel about certain ones. I don’t DO DC comics, so don’t expect me to start talking about how awesome Batman is. There’s really nothing impressive about Superman for me either. The conceit was too much. How in the world can no one tell Superman is Clark Kent? I like most Marvel superheroes, but I don’t particularly like the Fantastic Four, and while I will probably watch the new live-action The Amazing Spider-Man and, therefore, reserve judgement until then, I currently prefer the cheesy old cartoons to the other movies.

I don’t know about anyone else, but my reasons for liking superhero movies are all tangled up together. As I said in an earlier post, I had a mad crush on Gambit as a kid. What this episode to see why. That crush has never entirely disappeared, and I find myself judging men based on the characteristics that remind me of Gambit. The logical conclusion here is that, if this weird crush keeps up, I will spend my life with a gambler who talks about himself in the third person and cracks jokes at inappropriate times. I would be perfectly ok with that. What is really great about Gambit is that he is absolutely persistent. A good makeout session with Rogue could kill him, but it certainly doesn’t stop him from trying to persuade her.

I enjoy stories that don’t involve Gambit, too. I know that you are all reading this and thinking I’m probably just some weird fangirl who is going to dress as Rogue for Comicon. Truth is, I’ve never been to Comicon, and if I can, I’d actually rather dress as Black Widow for Halloween rather than conventions. I like the superhero genre because it give us hope. When it comes down to it, radioactive spiderbites, gamma ray accidents, genetic mutation, demigod status, and scientific enhancement really don’t make humans any less human.

There’s a powerful metaphor here. The humans always hate the superhero even as they rely on him for survival. I can’t think of any other group in history that everyone hated even as that group influenced the culture. Oh wait… guess I can think of a few. There’s a pervasive sense of fear of change in all the Marvel comics, which is, of course, realistic. And then there’s Rogue, the essential Femme Fatal who has no control over her ability to steal men’s power with her touch. She’s somehow relatable even while she’s jammed hopelessly into the stereotype. These are only a few of the things I particularly like about Marvel comics.

I watched Joss Whedon’s The Avengers this past weekend… Twice… in one weekend. That should tell you a little something about how well I liked it. That really isn’t something I make a habit of doing.  It was brilliant, the perfect combination of all the things I like about superhero movies. My favorite part was the scene in Germany.

Spoilers!!! Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want me to ruin a significant scene in The Avengers.

Loki stands before a crowd in Germany, demanding that they kneel to his authority. He follows with the typical bad-guy speech, basically: You are weak…yada yada… you only want someone to follow…yada yada… freedom is bad for you. This is a few minutes before Captain America kicks his butt, but it’s what happens between the space that I found particularly moving. An old man stands up to Loki and tells him that there is always someone trying to make people bow down to power. Loki is nothing new, and the old man isn’t about to follow him. The connection here with the Third Reich is obvious, but touching.  To think, we have every ability to fight against unjust authority. It’s less important that the Avengers or the X-Men or Spider-Man or any of them have power and more important that they use it to fight against tyranny in the least-painful way possible. The idea here is that we give those in power (not just governments, but religion, corporations, and any other body of power) hegemony, and the moment we shrug them off as too powerful, too corrupt to change a system, we give them ALL the authority over us.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that Superheroes make me want to be a stronger person and a better citizen of the world. How can that kind of Geekery possibly be bad?

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About charliegreenberry

I grew up in the wilds of New Mexico in a strange combination of free and restricted. Now, as I stumble unwillingly into adulthood, I find memories resurfacing. So I dust them off, sand them, slap on a coat of paint and display them with the hopes that at some point they'll make sense and pull the room together. The blog is a space for writing, for sharing, someday sharing without worrying about who is reading it, and a place to practice. Virginia Woolf said, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." Well, here's to having a room at least.
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6 Responses to Superheroes, Hegemony, and Normal People

  1. deshipley says:

    Ack! I had to skip the paragraph — I haven’t seen “Avengers” yet, but I hopefully will this weekend!

    Like you, I’m pretty much a Marvel girl (though I will occasionally go for Batman, and can’t really get through stories told in comic book format; make mine a novelization). No shame in your Gambit love, girl; back when I watched the ’90s cartoon, he was right up there with Wolverine.

    But I’d best cut myself off, before I leave a ramble as long as your post. Long live awesome superhero movies/TV shows/etc., that’s the bottom line. 😀

  2. Pingback: Best 3…Superheroes « My Best 3 of Everything

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