A fascination with superheroes – why is that? Superman, Batman, and also Spiderman have been the classics around for what seems like ages; Ironman and Transformers, for instance, then joined the field of the superheroes. But there are also females such as Wonder Woman or Ms. Marvel. We feel drawn to their stories and marvel at their extraordinary powers.

Usually, the story goes like this: A seemingly normal human who, however, possesses superhuman skills, in a normal civilian setting. But a villain is posing a threat to the city. Law enforcement doesn’t seem to be powerful enough to prevent the attack. Here, the superhero steps in and defeats the evil. The plot is simple, and yet, never gets old.

Let’s look a little closer at this fascinating concept, which is grabbing the attention of generations.

Transforming the World – A Human Desire

Bumblebee
Transformer, displayed in the Titanic Boardwalk Shop; transformation and power, what many strive for – Venice Beach, CA, USA

As we begin, let us look at Transformers, the newest form of “superheroes”, one could say. The thrill that comes with the idea behind it is what makes for the success of those movies. Especially men love them. And that might, quite simply, be because of their interest in technology. The fascination with those roboters lies in the fact that they are capable of transforming their bodies into different shapes and forms. With it comes the audience’s general interest in science-fiction: things that do not exist in our “real” world. Also, it’s the power of machines, technology, and artificial intelligence.

Your people must learn to be masters of their own fate – Optimus Prime

Transformers allow us to still see the human species, but dive into a virtual reality nonetheless, as they are thrown right into a “real world setting”. Yet, it’s a different, more futuristic world. And everything “future” and “technological advancement” is sparking our interests. Why? Because we strive to be better, invent faster technology, and introduce more robotics into our lives. However, the quote above strikes the right chord: We as humans, albeit the technological advancements, still need to be in control.

Mirroring Human Traits

Good is not a thing you are. It’s a thing you do – Ms. Marvel

Furthermore, superheroes are prime examples of who we strive to be at the bottom of our hearts and show that human nature in essence is not evil. Maybe they even hint at an inner conflict? The basic stories of good vs. evil, however, show that the good will always win the upper hand. Heroes remind us that we do have the power to change society, certain patterns, and norms. We only have to believe in ourselves. Because, all too often, we can identify with superheroes exactly because of the fact that they have moments where they struggle to believe in their own superhuman powers.

The Wish to Be Superhuman

Mystery
Mystery – hence, why many of us long to live a superhuman life, inspired by superheroes – Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, USA

Superheroes have what we all want: abilities that are, from a human perspective, otherworldly. Why they possess those powers is a mystery. We are mostly left in the dark about it. They excel in their abilities to transform society, as the right hand of law enforcement, and that’s all we can see.

We want to be like them because this would mean that we could technically do anything. We also long to be “superhuman”, because we want to step out of the restrictions our earthly, mortal life brings. It’s the mystery of another life, outside of our human constraints.

However, looking at superheroes, we can see essential character traits that are embedded in our human nature. Moreover, they inspire us to step out of the shadows of maybe a darker mindset that we have. Superheroes empower us to go after our goals and know our worth.

You only have your thoughts and dreams ahead of you. You are someone. You mean something – Batman

Even though superheroes remain mysteries in certain ways and are, clearly, science-fiction, they inspire us to be the best versions of ourselves. How about we use our very own everyday powers, ideally as a collective, to bring about change in any way?

And so we’re left with an iconic quote by Superman that we should all keep in the back of our minds in whatever we do:

You’re much stronger than you think you are. Trust me.

But sometimes, just sometimes maybe, we think about how there might be a superhero out there, somewhere, watching and keeping a guarding hand over us.

Who is your favorite superhero?