Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote (and I am paraphrasing quite liberally here) that people put together their notions of an ideal person, into the Ubermensch. The Overman. The One Who Exceeds the Herd. Yes, The Superman. He believed this person embodied our goals, our aspirations, our dream of one day conquering the worst of who we are.
This weekend, a trilogy concludes. Not just the Dark Knight. There were three successive blockbuster superhero movies we anticipated, saw, debated on, tweeted, and couldn’t wait to spoil for others on Facebook. The Avengers – the much-awaited coming together of our Marvel Heroes. The Spiderman reboot. And The Dark Knight Rises.
With these reinventions/re-imaginations, it occurs to me that we seem to be humanizing our heroes a lot more. The Avengers were a dysfunctional family that couldn’t seem to have saved a dog from its own tail. Spiderman was an adolescent who was trying to find himself. And The Dark Knight continues to chronicle the hero who painted the word “hero” in a hundred shades of gray. We seem to be trying to make them a bit more relate-able. To make mistakes. To fall in love and not get the girl. To bleed. To perspire. To be arrogant. To lose faith even in the people they swore to protect.
They say every hero, every Ubermensch is created by a generation to answer the needs of its collective psychosis. The first Superman arrived during a time when we needed a creature who was way, way beyond human giftings. We needed to trust in someone who can save us. Then we turned our heroes into flippant cartoon characters who threw puns with their punches. We needed them to be entertainers, and so they gave us that. Now, what do we need them for? Do we need them to be a bit more fallen? Do we need them to be a bit more believable? Do we need their costumes tailored more for a time where everyday is a battle against despair? So that we too, who bleed, could aspire to fly? So that we too, who fall, would know that we could also rise? So that we too, who doubt, can find faith?
That even if we are faced with the real horror of gunmen in a theater, we will not lose faith in humanity.
And that in the end, good will win.