It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… No, it’s just a bird after all. Sorry about the false alarm. But with so many superheroes crawling, running, flying, and generally crashing through our universe, it is an easy mistake to make.
There are only so many super powers. Let’s see… super strength, super speed, producing spider webs, wait… what? When did producing spider webs become a power that anyone even wanted? The point being, there are only so many super powers. But they are paired with our endless appetite to experience them.
There was a time when superheroes were just an obsession for kids, especially those being bullied by other kids who must have seemed like super villains. They could not be blamed for imagining they might one day possess super powers to combat whatever nightmare that had broken out into the reality of their lives.
But these days, it is not kids, but adults that seem to be obsessed with superheroes. Rather than growing out of superheroes, we grew into them, and even more dependent on them. Here is how the heroes of our childhood are breaking through to the real world of our adulthood:
Real Life Superheroes
In the Heroverse, it is not just the aliens from space, or the people zapped with exotic radiation that become superheroes. It is just as often the ordinary person who, due to some extreme circumstance, decides to make a cape, put on a mask, and rid the streets of bad guys.
Now, we can go into a store or shop online to buy superhero capes for adults in real life. Some of it is just cosplay for conventions, movie openings, costume parties, and the like. But some of it breaks free of the world of fantasy and lands on the front page of the local paper.
The Xtreme Justice League led by Mr. Xtreme is a band of real life superheroes. They are not vigilantes, but volunteers who stay on the right side of the law. They have a realistic sense of their limitations. But they use the superhero motif for their inspiration. Superheroes are not just in the comics. They are now on the streets. This is as real as it gets. And it is definitely not for kids.
At the Movies
By the numbers, 2016 was the year of the superhero at the box office. 2017 is already shaping up to be even more so. When you go and see one of these superhero movies, be on the lookout for kids. They are getting harder and harder to find, thanks to the mass of adults occupying the seats.
The producers of these movies are targeting adults intentionally. The plots are very adult-oriented. The themes are far more mature than ever before. The language is more coarse.
These are grown up movies made by grownups for grownups. Batman is not the caped crusader you saw on TV or in the toons. Even Lego Batman is more for the big kids rather than those still wearing Underoos.
Ready Player One
Games aren’t what they used to be. Nor are they necessarily for kids. The world of high-end gaming has nothing to do with kids. And in the world of adults holding PRO game controllers, superheroes have taken over gaming. That is only fitting since adults have also taken over gaming.
For those unwilling to put on an actual cape, diving into superhero gaming culture is the next best thing. When VR finally comes into its own, it may be difficult to pull these game-obsessed adults back into the real world where everyday heroes earn gold stars by picking up their kids from soccer practice.
It is not just 2017. Every year is the year of the superhero. It doesn’t matter if you wear a cape, go to a movie, or play a game. Superhero culture has taught us that there is a hero in all of us. It may be for a neighbor, a stranger in trouble, or a cat in a tree. Our moment will come to leap into action, and change the world for somebody. Who, in the world would want to grow out of that?