“Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” just completed its third week at the top of the box office charts. What is our fascination with super heroes? Why do we flock to our local theatres for a two-hour fantasy trip?

Super Hero Franchises

Superman, Batman, Spiderman, The Fantastic Four, X-Men and Iron Man, have had too many versions to count. Over the last thirty years you can throw in Condorman, Swamp Thing, Super Girl, Catwoman, The Incredible Hulk, Toxic Avenger, The Punisher, The Rocketeer, X Men, The Shadow, The Phantom, and the Green Hornet. All made a noticeable effect on box office revenues. And, who could ever forget Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D?

Are Super Heroes A Reflection on Society?

One theory that explains the immense popularity of super hero movies is our feeling of powerlessness in our daily, personal lives. For two hours we can live vicariously in the body of an unstoppable super hero. Some caped wonder that can vanquish all the villains in our daily lives and send us home feeling victorious — for at least one evening.

The Evolution of The Super Hero

Movies have always been a release and sequels are a proven money generator. If a super hero works once why not repeat it over and over and over again. Super heroes have always existed in comic books long before TV and (CGI) computer generated images took over the special effects business.

I can still remember listening to “The Shadow” on our old Philco radio. The idea of being invisible, or having super strength, or flying was something every kid dreamed of.

When actor George Reeves brought Superman to the small black and white screen in the 1940s and 50s, the super hero was officially born. I can still recite the opening of that TV show from memory today. We all ran home from school to hear and see the next exciting episode. Then tie a dishtowel or sheet around our necks and go out into our neighborhoods and fight for truth, justice and the American way fueled by a hearty bowl of Wheaties or Frosted Flakes.

Some Final Thoughts

We need heroes in our lives. While we have larger than life heroes on the big screen there are also some in our daily lives. Our parents, teachers, and others who help mold us into the finished adults we become are also our heroes.

Life is not easy, nor should it be. The more challenges we can overcome the stronger we become. Our superheroes show us that they are never down and out. There is always a way to vanquish the bad guys. I guess we just need to know that someone’s got our back.

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