Now, I know I’m not the only one who grapples with the current obsession with superheroes… however, I do acknowledge that I am the minority. As with everything, I like to try to apply history to current events to propose an idea or an estimation of the reasons behind a seemingly “new” obsession or cycle. There have been many who will argue with me until they are blue in the face, but I stand my ground: history speaks to everything.
Did you know Superman actually began as a villain? Well, he didn’t remain one for long because the story didn’t take off, but the creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster originally designed him to be one. Superman, the one we all know and love today, was created in the 1930s. This new superhero was designed to do three things: super speed, super strength, and a super jump. Somehow this guy became even more powerful in the 1940s and he began to fly. I’m hoping for this to happen at a different decade in my life. One might assume Superman was resurrected from the rubble of the stock market crash and Great Depression to instill a bit of hope in American audiences.
Over the years, Superman changed with the times. His powers change, his career changed from newspaper reporter (which was a popular trope in 1930s fiction and film) to a television reporter in the 1970s. The advent of media technology alters different realities and avenues for Superman: a series comes along starring George Reeves (if you watch Gone with the Wind, like I’ve told you to one million and a half times, you might recognize him as a Tarleton twin pursuing Scarlett O’Hara). Then the film series starring Christopher Reeve surfaces in the late seventies. Heck, let’s face it, Superman’s story recrafts itself over the next three decades. He even dies and is resurrected in Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. So, what is our obsession with this man of steel from the planet Krypton? Why does he keep coming back?
I think it’s obvious in the 2000s when Lex Luthor becomes a businessman. Superman is the solution to our economic problems. He is born out of a depression and he is relevant in our present economic crises. Our world craves someone to save us from our national debt, crooked businessmen, and greedy politicians. Superheroes are the answer to our problems because these people with supernatural powers do not exist. No matter how many we slap on the big screen these days, their invisibility, super strength, and x-ray vision cannot balance our budgets.
Ending on a depressing note was not my intention, but maybe this will put a stop to all of the superhero remakes and sequels surfacing. Stop the madness. Stop trying to fill the economic void with senseless films saturated with poor acting, CGI, and plot lines a six year old could write. I beg of you.