Superheroes and Us
by Pralhad Gururaj Konnur | published Jan. 17th, 2020
“With great power comes great responsibility," said Uncle Ben to Peter Parker.
“You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain,” said the Dark Knight.
Imagine relating our human lives to the journeys of these superheroes, taking some disguised knowledge and implementing it into real life.
Superhero movies always entertain us by some end moment twist, suspense or emotional scene. If we keep entertainment on the sidelines, there's much to learn from these superheroes. Let’s go behind the curtains and observe the actions that these great women and men respond to, and what makes them super.
Identities and Juggling Between Things
Starting with the web shooter Spiderman, he has gone through a lot. He has dealt with bullies, looking after his Aunt May after the death of Ben, maintaining his relationship with Mary Jane and hiding his identity until the recent disclosure (thanks to the witty Mysterio). Though all of this, the web-crawler has displayed some intense bravery and patience. Yet, he is always ready to face the fiercest villains such as Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin and Electro.
As students, we have a lot to manage as well; assignments, hobbies and career interests to name a few. Joshua Issac, a first year graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Game Design and Development, explained it best.
“Peter Parker is very relatable and has gone through the various challenging phases of life just like us students. He doesn't have many powers, he just has the knack of building innovative things like the web-shooter," he explained.
Managing a huge workload also demands a change in our expressions and the way we react to different situations. Our expressions and attitudes change in the way we speak with different types of people. Revealing our true identity has become a challenge. For example, we have a fixed identity during our daily morning breakfast when discussing things with parents or roommates. This identity changes instantly when we interact with professors and friends at college.
Sean Boyle, senior lecturer at the School of Interactive Games and Media suggested that showing off your true identity shouldn't be a bad thing.
"There has been a case with every comic and movie that the superhero has to keep his/her identity secret because if it comes out, it’s game over. But, in the 'Spider-Gwen' comic, her identity is known to everyone," he said. "It was also a big surprise to the audience that Tony Stark reveals his identity in the first 'Ironman,' and it was fine — doesn’t ruin anything.”
A parallel with relationships can also be observed. We build relationships based on the chemistry between us and a partner, whether that be a parent, a friend or some person we are deeply attached to. Staying away from such a person affects our psyche as we begin to miss the person more.
During the events of "Avengers: Endgame," Tony Stark mourned the loss of Peter after the snap.
“The relationship between Tony and Peter isn’t just of a mentor-protégé — one didn’t have any kids at that time and the other didn’t have parents, so it’s kind of a father-son relationship," Issac said. "The only support that Tony had was Pepper Potts and by leaving the Avengers, he was somehow able to move on."
Lastly, our homes and the place where we spent our childhood is also forever embedded in both our hearts and our heroes' hearts. Growing up in our home country is fairly easy due to the support and connection of family and known friends. But, what about students who move to a foreign country? It can quickly become difficult facing all the odds and competing with time. Still, these students manage to live and lead life on a new land while committing mistakes, but also learning a great deal from them.
The same goes for Kal-El, Superman. Forget international, he is in fact extra-terrestrial. Born on the planet Krypton, but having to leave this home and making Earth his new abode, life was really hard to adjust to for an alien. With the help of his mother, Martha, he finds a way to work as a reporter and also wears the beautiful red cape whenever danger arises. But, despite their powers, superheroes are not exempt from fear, and neither are we.
Isolation, anxiety and depression are usually very related to each other. For example, people who face social anxiety may avoid talking in public places.
Bruce Banner, a brilliant scientist, completely isolates himself when he turns into the big green monster to keep the world safe. Batman suffers from depression and anxiety because he can’t trust anyone. As powerful as they are, superpowers are often powerless against emotions.
So, even with all the special skills and magical powers, the heroes find it difficult to engage in their daily activities. But what would happen if they didn't have their powers at all?
“That comes up a lot in many stories now. Batman doesn’t have any powers, he just has gadgets — you take them away, he’s still a smart guy. In 'Gwen-Pool,' she doesn’t have any powers. She just knows her stuff," Boyle added.
Superheroes are not heroes solely due to their abilities; their best qualities are often their most human. There are many 'heroes' in our own reality, all who do their work without the benefit of these powers.
As Iron Man said, “Heroes are made by the path they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”
"Learn to stand for what you believe in."
The Real Superheroes
It’s not surprising to find theaters fully occupied while a superhero movie is screened
Boyle said, "You go into theaters and find 8-year-olds and also 80-year-olds both enjoying the movies. Little kids like the colorful superhero costumes, but the point is: do they really get the idea behind the movie? That’s always a challenge for the writers.”
We share more than we might expect in common with these mighty heroes. All we have to do is act like it.
“Learn to stand for what you believe in," Issac explained. "Fight for something that’s worth fighting for, even if you are underequipped for it. Heroes have their super-abilities and skills, but at the start, even they were normal humans.”
In the end, all it matters is the decisions we make, the emotions we show and the people we care for, which makes us the ‘real’ superheroes and not the on-screen ones.