Half-baked thoughts on superhero films

If superheroes really existed they would be worshipped as gods. Films don’t really explore this. Spider-man has an image of friendly, neighbourhood crime fighter and, at best, saviour of New York City. But his reach is never seen to extend past that. Is this deliberate, to promote the Marvel universe idea of multiple, local superheroes? Or is it failure to imagine how a person with superpowers would be treated? Would the double identity aspect of superhero life lessen their ability to become a global icon and figure of worship?

The Watchmen film slightly touched on this, with Dr Manhattan seen (rightly) as a god figure. My memories of the Christopher Reeve Superman films are hazy, but I don’t think they dealt with this much either. A film that’s not even really about a superhero touched on this better than any ‘capes’ movies have – The Matrix Reloaded. With the events of the first film, Neo has almost surely shown that he is The One, and is deified. In Zion, plebs wait to give him gifts, speak to him, even just to touch him. He is worshipped as the saviour of humanity. Yeah, okay, he’s Jesus, I get it.

Any Superman that isn’t an origin story could do well to embrace the worship idea. Have Supes seen by humans as an Earth-dwelling god. Have him deal with the inherent pressures of this, being viewed as a role model. Then re-use the old storyline of an evil Superman, then have him try to make amends with the public and fix his battered image.

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