by Clinton Wee
Once upon a time is arguably the favourite phrase of children across the globe. The phrase serves as a transition from their boring lives to the majestic unknown world of fairytales. 10 years later the phrase still resonates deeply with our human psyche, although in a different form- superhero stories.
Have you ever wondered what it is about superhero fantasies that just seem to pique our interest? The power these adult fairytales possess to ensnare us in their captivating web of fiction and plot twists. So why do superheroes stories intrigue us? Why do we look up to figures that we logically know cannot exist?
The superhuman feats that these heroes can accomplish astound anyone and everyone who reads about it. We idolize heroes because of their ability to do things no man can even dream of attempting, for example lifting a truck with a pinky, or running fast enough to break the space time barrier, or even regrowing a hand after having it cut off. However this is just a superficial outlook on the matter, the real crux of the superhero mania is far larger than that and has less to do with superhuman powers than we might think.
Furthermore, it might seem contradictory, but what makes superheroes really super is their weaknesses. Yes, it is cool when they beat up bad guys, but where is the fun when your superhero is unbeatable and no villain even puts up a proper fight? Thus, I don’t and never will watch One Punch Man. Superman, arguably the most powerful superhero of all time, has kryptonite; Batman is haunted by his past; Ironman’s ego clouds his judgement; and even Wolverine’s immortality is a classic example of hell on Earth. The point is even superheroes bleed sometimes, but rather than making them seem weak, it helps us draw parallels with ourselves and others. The knowledge that even superheroes are prone to moments of weaknesses, just like us mortals, is an infinitely powerful statement that we are not all that different from them.
Hence, we can safely assume that Bruce Wayne has as many superpowers as a potato. Only equipped with his will, he fights evil on a daily basis. At some point he has even become a match for Superman, the man of steel. Compared to Superman, Batman is obviously the underdog, but he serves as a reminder that we do not need superpowers to be heroes. In most of his crime fighting days, he had nothing to rely on but pure intelligence and average human strength. That is why everyone is rooting for Batman to win in the long awaited blockbuster, “ Batman vs Superman”. Even if Batman ends up losing to Superman, which is unlikely, viewers will still be moved by his sheer determination in the epic fight of man versus God.
In a world where people face systematic discrimination and suffering, where the odds are always stacked against certain groups of individuals, superhero stories bring out the child in us. The child, that puts up a fight.
by Clinton Wee