People fall in love with superheroes and their heroic tales for different reasons. When I was five years old, I saw Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN in theaters and my world changed forever. I honestly can’t tell you why that film had such an effect on me, but I’ll forever be grateful that it did.

Often, people ask me why I maintain a passion for all things superhero-related. Usually, I just tell them the story about how I saw SPIDER-MAN in 2002 and thought it was the greatest movie ever. All I wanted to do when I was five was epically attain superpowers and save the day.

It was that simple, so I thought my reasons for loving superheroes were as well. It honestly wasn’t until this year that I realized what those reasons truly were.

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A still from Sam Raimi’s SPIDER-MAN (2002)

Why…

Everyone experiences a dark period during their lifetime. Some periods last longer than others, and some individuals never reveal the nature of these periods to anyone but themselves. With 2017 nearing its end, I have often found myself pondering my own perspective on the year.

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The past few months have been pretty extraordinary. I began working with ComicsVerse in May and have since fulfilled multiple lifelong dreams from going to comic book conventions and meeting some of my favorite writers and artists to simply writing about the superheroes I have grown up with. In addition to this, I have felt as though various pieces of my life have begun to fall into place.

However, the first few months of 2017 differed greatly from its latter half.

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Christopher Reeve as Superman

…do we fall?

For many long months, I felt as though the world had fallen off its axis and everything I had worked so hard to accomplish had dissipated right before my eyes. The world around me had faded from vibrancy to gray. Suddenly, I was no longer enjoying the things I used to love.

It was hard to explain such an abrupt change to those closest to me, simply because so many negative experiences had catalyzed the change. So, I wasn’t even able to pinpoint what exactly had affected my perception of the world so powerfully. All I could comprehend was that I no longer felt like myself.

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My behavior changed as well. I could feel the stamina fade from my body. All I wanted to do was stay in bed all day, and sometimes I did. Perhaps the most striking change though was my disconnection from my passion: superheroes. I stopped reading my beloved graphic novels and quit keeping up with my favorite speedster and vigilante on The CW. I even stopped watching my Nolan and Russo Brother masterpieces.

Everything had become static and dull.

The worst part is that I tried to enjoy all those things. I tried to have a Marvel movie marathon but ended up quitting before the first movie ended because I wasn’t even processing it. I no longer registered the story or the characters. Images were moving before my eyes, but they no longer maintained any appeal.

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The final scene of Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT (2008)

So that we…

I’ve always wanted to have a superpower. My fascination with superheroes stems from my awe of them. They strive to do good for strangers and exemplify heroic aspects anyone would want to embody. However, as I delved deeper into my dark period, my awe of superheroes became cynical. Most people I knew had never picked up a comic book in their life, so it was not a passion I shared with many other people. I felt as though I had wasted my time investing myself in enjoying tales of fiction on my own.

My cynicism escalated as I failed to enjoy the stories anymore. What was the point of my fascination if it was bound to end? What had this passion ever truly done for me?

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As a result of this separation, my imagination was no longer stirring. There was no more inspiration.

It wasn’t until recently that I came to realize that all my passions, from my comic books to my movies, had actually cultivated my imagination throughout my life. They had motivated me to be creative and engage with my thoughts and ideas. At the time though, I failed to realize that. I felt as though there was no purpose in being creative when the world had turned gray.

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Assemble.

…can learn…

When I was growing up, people were not as into superheroes as they are now. Interestingly though, people continue to ponder what exactly the appeal is to the phenomenon. Additionally, people ask if audiences will eventually tire of them.

It is an interesting notion to consider. However, the superhero fandom runs deep. Comic books and their respective adaptations in film and television are not solely forms of entertainment for fans. Rather, they’re important attributes a fan preserves.

It may be hard for others to understand this devotion, but it is actually one that any individual can identify with.

Why does anyone do the things they love? Why does anyone have hobbies and read books and watch movies?

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We feel alive when we engage in any of those things. People like to watch horror films because they enjoy the thrill of it. Others prefer historical dramas because they wish to experience a world unfamiliar with the one they live in. Our fascinations enrich our spirits and motivate us to explore. They drive us to learn about what we may not understand.

We are enthusiastic by nature, and we inherently want to seek out what interests us, even if it is in the things we may not expect to draw us in.

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A shot from the opening titles sequence of JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE ANIMATED SERIES

to pick ourselves up.

It is never easy to acknowledge that you are not okay. For me, that acknowledgment took quite a long time. When I did though, I promised myself that I would never look back. My disconnection from superheroes lasted a long time, but one day I found myself taking a drive to my closest Barnes & Noble.

For the first time in what felt like an eternity, I purchased a graphic novel. If I recall correctly, it was CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, the writer and artist of my favorite graphic novel, BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN. Ironically, I didn’t enjoy that collaboration all that much, but it showed me that my love for superheroes was not over yet.

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Some time after my world began to fill with color again, I got a writing gig with ComicsVerse. Soon enough, I was writing articles each week about the latest in the DC Extended Universe as well as analyses on some of my favorite comic books and films.

I felt restored.

I was no longer in this static state of living. Instead, I was always thinking, always being challenged to ponder new perspectives and ideas.

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Spider-Man doing what he does best.

Superheroes Outside of Fiction

There are many reasons why superheroes are such an integral part of who I am, but I know one of them is that they are an anchor for me. They are a source of nostalgia from my past as well as a catalyst for my imagination in the present. They maintain stories across a variety of mediums that not only entertain but inspire. Whenever I pass someone donning a shirt with some superhero’s face on it, I can’t help but get excited knowing that they are transfixed by the magic of those characters.

I firmly believe that superheroes have inspired me to believe in good, even in times of hardship. They encourage to face oppositions head-on and maintain the confidence to overcome them. Even though I don’t have superpowers, I don’t need them to strengthen myself in the face of struggle. I have myself, and that is enough.

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Despite hardships, we should never lose optimism in the belief that better days are ahead. Superheroes inspire me to believe that everything happens for a reason. Despite my previous sense of loneliness, I know now that someone somewhere has experienced the same uncertainty I had experienced. For that reason, I was never truly alone.

We often get lost in reality and struggle to find our way back. It is in those moments that we have to remind ourselves that we’re going to be okay.

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A still from WONDER WOMAN (2017)

The End of the Tunnel

Often, we learn the most about ourselves when we are in unfamiliar places. Sure, it is frightening to feel yourself fall backward and witness your world change right before your eyes. Ultimately though, I am grateful for my trials and tribulations since they taught me more about who I am and who I aspire to be.

Even though that time was filled with an uncomfortable amount of uncertainty and disconnection from the things I had always loved, I found the strength to escape the dormancy.

Perhaps one of the most comforting revelations I had after this period though was the realization that my heroes were patiently waiting for me to come back to them.

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