Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Superpower Cycles: from Beowulf to The Boys and Beyond

Having watched the recent series The Boys, I sense we are coming to the end of a cycle where false superheroes reign in the modern psyche. Arguably, humans have had such heroes since the earliest stories of gods and mortal heroes. Yahweh, Hercules, Beowulf, Superman, Dr. Manhattan, etc. etc., each has taken on the guise of a being that visits justice on the evil doers among us.

The Boys, like Watchmen before it, presents a grittier look at superheroism where it meets human nature. In particular, these two stories investigate how individuals abuse their superpowers for corrupt gain, paralleling much closer the political gears that grind in the rear world. In some ways, superheroes provide escapism, but that escapism can reach dangerous levels if we ignore real world issues, locally, regionally and globally.

Though I'm sure superhero movies will continue to sell their black and white battles between good and evil, I wonder if society might be taking a hiatus to consider the real heroes at work in the our world. Those people that are working hard toward refining better ethical standards, spreading compassionate efforts to lessen suffering, and in general serving as stewards toward greater planetary health.

Fiction will surely still inform us as individuals and communities, but perhaps the real superheroes, each and every one us, will begin stepping forward with greater regularity to forge mindful, progressive change.

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