The Goddess Speaks
Superheroes with flaws work best
Sorrow filled the theater as the newest Superman plunged to the ground, weakened by the massive kryptonite island he'd just shoved into outer space. I watched as the doctors and nurses frantically tried to save him. I watched as the people of Metropolis rallied around the hospital, hoping he would recover. My sister, on the other hand, took one look at the preview, called him "too skinny" and refused to watch.
In "Spider-Man 2," Peter Parker lay exhausted on the floor of the monorail car, his face exposed through his broken mask to the stunned passengers. One man remarked that he was no older than his own son. But just as he was to those people, Spider-Man was still a hero to me.
Not surprisingly, superheroes in our movies nowadays have stepped down from the pedestals of old and have shown that they have problems just as we do. I'm sure you've heard the idea before. I'm here to support it. For those who might not like the "human side" of these superheroes, think of it this way: Would you rather have an interesting plot, or would you rather have a run-of-the-mill "deus ex machina" hero from the old days?
I wouldn't be interested in a play that ended with a big, tough god coming down from the heavens to "take care of everything." Weren't the more interesting plays the ones in which people died in the fight, where people had to take care of themselves?
If superheroes were perfect, movies would end pretty quickly. Metropolis is in danger. Superman steps in and squashes the enemies. The end. Five minutes tops. LAME.
Most movies lead me to conclude that if the characters weren't stupid, or if they never made bad decisions, we wouldn't have a movie, would we? I recently saw "Iron Man" (which was outstanding). If the enemies hadn't been stupid, they wouldn't have allowed Robert Downey Jr. to make his entire suit in the span of three months, not knowing it wasn't the missile they desired. I'm not a weapons specialist, but he does not need to experiment with wires on his feet and missiles in his arms.
More extreme examples can be found in the world of anime. Years ago I watched "Sailor Moon," a rather childish heroine. In the first episode, she cried because she cut her knee. But I still watched. It was all the more meaningful when she won the final battle.
Perhaps if their heroes all had weaknesses, children would be encouraged to be more confident in themselves.
A more recent example is Naruto. Ask your children, they know him. This hero constantly stuffs his face with ramen, goes on dates and needs lessons explained to him several times. Still, this hero loves his friends, cares for his village and will work hard when he must. Matthew Fox was quoted in Men's Health magazine as saying, "People have flaws, and heroism comes from rising above those flaws." You know in the end, Naruto will prevail.
Kristen Wong works at MidWeek Printing.
The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and about women. If you have something to say, write "The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210,
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