This past weekend as my husband and I prepared to see the latest Marvel addition to their popular franchise (i.e. Dr. Strange); I took a moment to consider why we love action heroes so much. I wondered if, when our ancestors told stories about legendary heroes, they experienced the same kind of excitement about them as we do ours today. Did the heroes of myth generate the same type of devotion, of awe and admiration as do the stars of screen, sports, and comics in us?
The ancients developed heroes to explain natural phenomena, to recount legends based on true events handed down by word of mouth, and to personify the traits they valued the most. Some of these heroes took the guise of “gods,” and some were mere mortals who challenged a variety of deities and monsters.
Today we understand a lot more about the natural world, but we still wonder about things beyond our understanding. We imagine bold explorers who venture beyond the realm of the known, and the pioneers that will meet the challenges of tomorrow. Equally we find heroes in our present and past, as stories about Western heroes, soldiers, and triumphant athletes are just as popular as those that come from comic book pages.
After all, who doesn’t need a hero? It is in our nature to seek someone we can emulate, who makes us feel safe and protected, and who inspires us to live up to our own best character attributes. It is hardly a new trend to look for our heroes in a fictional setting either, because the heroes of fantasy can be far more perfect, powerful, and idealistic than we can reasonably expect in everyday life.
One thing we’ve carried much further than our ancestors ever could, though, related to our “heroes”- that is capitalization on their deeds and fame. The ancients would have honored a hero with songs and a feast, perhaps a shrine or temple to commemorate their deeds. Today we wear the hero’s face or emblem on a tee shirt. We have action figures and trading cards, bedsheets and MattelTM toys, books written for every age and literacy level, and hundreds or thousands of hours’ worth of digital video and sound showing and breaking down their every action.
Does all of this merchandise demonstrate reverence for our heroes, or is it just a way to spend more money? I guess that’s for the individual to decide.
This week, I challenge you to examine your heroes, and the attributes that you admire in them. What thoughts, or actions, does your hero inspire in you? How will attempt to show that in your own life?
Just a thought,