SUPERHERO STORIES AREN’T MYTHS. THEY’RE ANTI-MYTHS.

24 Apr

Avengers Infinity War

Like Iphigenia, Job is the plaything of forces beyond his comprehension. In the universe of myth, the existence of super-beings means that humans have less power, not more. “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.” That’s the subtext—or, in Job’s case, the actual text—of the old stories about gods.

Superhero stories completely reverse this idea. It’s not an accident that the first superhero lifted his name from Nietzsche’s Superman. The whole premise of the superhero is that the Gods are dead and irrelevant, and that humans can, and should, expand to fill the space left in the cosmos by that divine absence.

The typical superhero film is about some flawed guy (it’s usually a guy) who lacks self-confidence. But then he gains superpowers, finds his inner strength and humanity, and self-actualizes by saving the innocent and bringing evildoers to justice. Instead of Icarus flying too high and then plummeting to Earth, the superhero flaps those wings and whooshes up to bash that evil sun right in the snoot.

So argues Noah Berlatsky at Pacific Standard. You may read his entire argument here.

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