Watching Superhero Movies: an Origin Story

Superhero movies used to bore me. I roll my eyes at revenge plots, I yawn my way through action scenes, I find myself worrying who’s going to pay for the city’s infrastructure. During these years of intense superhero hype, all I’ve wanted is for Hollywood to ditch the spandex suits and be done with it. Surely, we’ve had enough?

Some time ago, against my own better judgement, I trudged through the first X-men trilogy. I had promised a friend, what could I do? What happened next will shock you: I enjoyed it. I did, I confess. I might have distractedly scrolled through Facebook during some final battle, but I enjoyed it. I ended up spending hours discussing the moral implications of a mutant world with said friend, asking the questions Wolverine & co. needed us to ask, figuring out what answers they came up with.

Still, I thought the X-men trilogy was an outlier. They’re kind of old, kind of gritty movies, and Wolverine is a reluctant hero anyway. I intended to give The Avengers and associated Marvel blockbusters a try, but never did, daunted by their number, scale and plausible mediocrity. I had heard good things about Wonder Woman, though.

So I went to see Wonder Woman. Twice. There is something so deeply iconic about her. She represents everything that is important to me: innocence and an unshakable belief in the good of mankind; duty, courage and truthfulness, too. And it’s masterfully reflected in the action scenes, which are necessary, often defensive and always empowering. I could go on (IT’S NOT ABOUT WHAT YOU DESERVE, IT’S ABOUT WHAT YOU BELIEVE; YOU CAN EITHER DO SOMETHING OR DO NOTHING; ONLY LOVE CAN TRULY SAVE THE WORLD), but you get the picture: you should go see the motion picture.

Superheroes, I finally understood, are walking metaphors, and powerful ones at that. They are created to be iconic, never complete without their own brand and theme song. They each represent a different way of doing good – Deadpool and Superman can be equally heroic but vastly different in method. They’re a real-life call to arms, even though the evils in our world will be nuanced and rarely personified, to fight for what we believe in, in a way that holds true to our own internal life.

What I’m trying to say is, you have to confront yourself with things you’ve labelled as “not your thing”. The best of any genre will always be worth your time. Labelling pieces of art and entertainment, though convenient, doesn’t do us any favours. Now, I still may sleep through action sequences, but the prefix “super-” won’t hold me from enjoying a great film anymore. Because only watching a superhero movie without prejudice can truly save the world *queue theme music*.

  • M. Mori

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