What’s So Super About Heroes?

Everybody needs a hero, right? Someone to look up to. They inspire us to aspire to become more than what we are. They move us to improve. And their very nature makes them super. Heroes cannot be anything but super. They perform at a level beyond our wildest dreams. They operate on a different plane from us mere mortals. They are faster than us, stronger than us and smarter than us. They are flawless and their reflected glory casts a little more light on our drab and dreary everyday existences. We follow their exploits on the silver screen and in glossy magazines. They are everything we dream of being but are not. They are perfection and that perfection exposes and magnifies every fault and failing we spend most of our lives trying to hide from the world.

I disagree with pretty much all of the above paragraph. I’m sorry if that has burst a few bubbles out there. Maybe you want to skip this post and we can hook up again next time. You see, I don’t really want my heroes to be super. To me, a perfect hero isn’t really a hero at all. If everything you do is effortless then it’s not really super. It kind of becomes mediocre. Bland, mundane, run of the mill. I saved the world again today. It was easy…..yawn. Where’s the blood, sweat and tears in that? Where are the demons they have slain to become who they are today? Where are the staggering odds they have somehow overcome along the way? Er….we kind of skipped that part because we’re perfect and cut straight to the super, heroic bits.

I don’t want perfect heroes. Anodyne and featureless, every scrap of personality scrubbed clean from them. Now before I continue I know there will be many Christians reading this so, before you start, let’s set Jesus to one side for the purposes of this blog. Yes I know he was without sin and, therefore, perfect. He was the ‘Godman’ however and I’m talking about human beings here. Ordinary men and woman who commit extraordinary acts. I’m also not talking about superheroes like Wonder Woman or Captain America. I am talking about real people. I’m not really a DC or Marvel hero anyway. Give me orcs and dragons any day of the week. Or possibly Jessica Jones at a stretch.

I’m not really talking about celebrities either. Yes there are role models out there who inspire and motivate us but we risk straying into dangerous territory here. When we start to worship our heroes it can become idolatry. Which is largely unhealthy and counter productive. They are human beings and human beings have a nasty habit of letting you down. Never meet your hero they say as they have a habit of disappointing you in the flesh. They are not what you created them to be in your imagination. They are a pale imitation. That’s because they are flesh and bone. They can never possibly live up to what we have created them to be in our fevered imaginations. They will always fall short.

They are a concept, an ideal, an unattainable image. Striving, and failing, to be more like them will only end in frustration and resentment. I’m not saying unfollow Taylor Swift on Twitter and take your football and baseball posters down but just be wary they don’t take over. Obsession is a companion I know all too well. Filling your head with such individuals are a distraction. Distracting you from the people around you who truly matter. You will never become them and aspiring to do so is a futile exercise. Focus on becoming a better you not a better them.

Having real life heroes can be problematic as well. It’s all very well and good but once more they will eventually let you down. The higher you build them up the further they will inevitably fall. They cannot live up to your lofty expectations of them. And when they don’t it often ends in recrimination and broken relationships. There is resentment on either side and irreparable collateral damage is caused to trust and respect. Seeds of anger are planted on such fertile ground. From these grow weeds and thorns that will choke and entangle us. We will grow to despise those we once loved. And they will despise us back just as hard. Friends become enemies and allies become foes. I’ve lost so many friends so I know this all too well. My days of setting others on pedestals are over.

So what is the point of this post? I’ve dismissed just about every hero in the book. From Batman to Tom Brady. And everyone in between. Comic book heroes, action movie heroes, everyday heroes. Firefighters, brain surgeons, megachurch pastors and your big brother or sister. They are not heroes. They are just people like you or I. Respect them, admire them and love them. But don’t set them on a plinth and get all gooey eyed over them. For they deserve better than that and so do you. Plinths and pedestals are barriers to true relationships and mutual growth. Let’s all get on a level playing field.

Death to heroes.

What are your thoughts of hero worship and heroes in society today? Do you regard it as healthy or a hindrance? Please comment below.

38 thoughts on “What’s So Super About Heroes?

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  1. I like the history behind the fantastical hero. For example, Superman was created during the World War to uplift the soldiers that were fighting, and dying, for freedom. And some heros, like Batman show that all humans have flaws. He is really just Bruce Wayne who secretly fights for justice. Batman is shown as human and hero all in one. If we go way back to Homer and ancient stories of heroes, they all have weakness which bring them down, which is a totally human experience. They may have god-like abilities, but they are not gods. And these heroes were meant to explain why events happened and create a moral basis for humans to follow. Most superheros have a weakness and that is one thing that we, as human beings, can relate to. We all have our own weaknesses. So, I would give superheroes a little more credit. They have a reason to exist. However, I don’t mean that we need to idolize them…just see what they really stand for and understand their history and reasons for being there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I haven’t watched many superhero movies so can’t really comment. It’s interesting that Superman was a wartime propaganda tool. I didn’t know that. It actually makes the character even more dubious in my opinion.

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      1. The history behind many superheroes doesn’t really relate too much anymore. I can see what you are saying on your post and I agree with a lot of it. I was just looking at it in a different context.

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  2. The first paragraph had me a little perturbed—then came the first line of the second paragraph. Thank you.

    My dad was my hero, he passed away just a month before my 18th Birthday. I thought his character was set in stone; but with adulthood looming—I was introduced to the less heroic aspects of his life. I don’t see myself attaining another “hero” in my lifetime. But in my father’s memory, he will always be a hero who still guides my work ethic and gives my feet stable ground to tread on.

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  3. I am sorry for whoever let you down.
    As I read your post, I thought over who the star is in superhero films these days -and think the writers are trying to reflect your very outlook. (Thor losing his hammer, Tony Stark making many poor decisions, Captain America starting out weak and naturally drawing to darker paths later.)
    I think most people seek a “more real” hero. We want more details and authenticity; more human nature.

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  4. I agree. We can aspire to be like those we admire, but keep in mind that they are flawed human beings. Expecting them to be perfect can lead to disappointment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting post. I’m not into the Super Heroes thing either. My two pennies – at least in the Western part of the world, since I am not a World traveler, we are and have been corrupted to worshiping the wrong types of heroes. Not just fictitious characters – we are being exposed to the likes of the Kardashians, Tabloid fodder, and all types and variations of the wrong type of heroes to look up to. Maybe this isn’t really the theme of your post, but that is what has been on my mind lately. Society as a whole needs to get back to doing good and promoting good. Anyway – thanks for bringing up an interesting topic.

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  6. I certainly grew up reading comics and watching some superhero cartoons, so I confess to liking so many characters growing up. Once the real world set in, it became very distracting and I was filled with so much disillusionment. Even real life people who I thought were really great ended up being scumbags who used me and others. As jaded as it sounds, I do admit that people should never look up to heroes (real or fictional). They will only disappoint you.

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  7. I almost didn’t read this post, because I’m not a superhero person. As I read your 1st paragraph I was making mental notes of what to time in the comments to explain my disagreement. … And then I got to the second paragraph. Oh, OK. Now that makes more sense. I was never the one to have a hero or even look up to someone. Sure, you admire other people’s qualities and might want to employ those for ourselves, but they are just human like us. Not perfect.

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  8. For me, superheroes are pure fiction. Real heroes are those who do the right thing whether terrified or know the outcome for themselves will not be good. I am thinking of a soldier throwing himself/herself on a grenade. These are people who don’t think about themselves but others. My heroes are Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Christ, Mother Theresa and many others unknown and unnamed.

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  9. Hero..Jesus..
    Only to worship God.
    We are merely children..His children if we choose. seek and we shall find. And if we follow. Til the end..we will be revealed to be like Him.

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  10. As a child, there was something remarkable about Superman, as he saved the world. Of course we grow up and come to see that the real heroes are the ones who take care of the least of our brothers and sisters. I do wonder though what is happening in America and around the world when superhero movies become blockbusters, earning upwards to billions in dollars. It seems to mean that people need to believe that there is a “force” greater than themselves, and because so many young people do not buy into religion today, they have missed the greatest force for good: Jesus Christ our Lord. But, maybe also, we just have read too much into what is just escapism from the duties and difficulties of life. Sometimes a rose is just a rose.

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