I’m a nerd (as is CLEARLY evidenced by my social research blog -_- ) so by definition I have a thing for superheros. The mythologies, the back stories, the superpowers, the colourful costumes: sheer fascination. Watching the Avengers, as I’m sure half the world has by now (very un-statistician-like thing to say) has more or less rekindled my love of superhero lore (and MARVEL!!!!!), especially after the disappointment that was Smallville.

still “SMASHING” box offices

But it all had me thinking. The success of any commercial enterprise, including movies, depends not just on the quality of the product, but the context within which its produced. Simply, if there is no demand, there will be no sale. The recent success of Avengers therefore suggests to me that there is something about superhero mythology that we want in the real world.

We live in a world in which many of us are powerless. We’re marginalized because we do not have enough political power, economic resources, education or physical capability. We live in a world where the bad guys seem all powerful and seem to always win. We live in a world we DON’T want to live in, a world we wish we could change.

Could that be why we love those tights-clad, primary colours wearing, muscle bulging (bust bulging :p) super-freaks? Could it be that they represent some concept of reality we wish were true?

Or could it be that they represent some aspect of ourselves we wish were more evident? Superman represented truth, justice and the American way; he epitomized American patriotism and the superiority of that nation.

Super-Patriot man

He remains an example, and exaggeration, of what Americans want to be. So I think Suleiman Bakhit had the right idea when he created an Arabic Superhero team after the tragedy of 9/11 to paint a different picture of the Middle-East for American youths. Because our superheroes, just like our real heroes, are representative of our mores and what we think makes us great.

Naif Al-Mutawa went as far as to show how our superheroes reflect out religious beliefs, mythology and history.

What would a Jamaican superhero look like?

Research suggestion:

  • What is the relationship between social marginalization and the affinity for superheroes in Jamaica?