Surprising Motivational Lessons from Superhero Movies
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Age of Ultron came out, and I’ve been skipping ever since.
Actually, I’ve been skipping way before that because – you know – Avengers and Marvel Comics and all that badass superhero stuff that we fans basically thrive on. And then, there are those snooty adults who gawk when you appear in costume at the theater because apparently they’re there just for their children.
Patronizing parents! I mean really, I could understand if it was a Care Bear movie with virtually nothing for adults to remotely enjoy except a bucket of badly buttered popcorn for the entire 90 minutes that cinematic torture lasted. But this is the Avengers! Personally, I feel parents who think they’re only going for the children and that it’s a children’s thing need to realize a few things.
Superhero action movies are more than just that.
For starters, lots of action. Duh! That’s what you go for anyway, and it’s all good action. The kind that both boggles and entertains the mind and makes you want to hit that gym right after; even though you probably wouldn’t but hey, those abs on Cap and Thor are, indeed, inspiring. And ladies, look to Black Widow. That’s how you wanna look and act and kick! Unless, you can be the Scarlet Witch, then, be the Scarlet Witch.
The timeless desire to see good triumph over evil against all odds is fulfilled in the sweetest ways possible via these movies. No matter how colossal the army, no matter how vicious the bad guy, your hero always delivers. And that’s what makes it so worth your while.
Nonetheless, the action heroes don’t have it easy. They aren’t perfect people. In fact, they are so imperfect that it is their imperfection that gives them the winning edge over every enemy. They make mistakes, often terrible ones with dire consequences. For instance, Ultron himself is testament to how awfully wrong good intentions can go or how horribly genius can screw up. But the idea is to not give up. We watch our heroes make mistakes and then find ways to make things right from within those mistakes. This is how we live life anyway, right?
Team work – super jerks and gentlemen/ladies come together to work for the greater good. Something that our politicians seem virtually incapable of perhaps because, in the words of the mighty Thor, “you people are so petty…and tiny!” I suppose it takes a superhero to be super mature.
Speaking of maturity, if these movies have taught us anything, it is how we can rise above our petty selves. The coming of age stories are there if you want to find them: Thor, Black Widow, Cap, Stark, Hulk, Hawkeye. It’s all about coming to terms with what you have, who you are, where you should be headed and how to use your abilities and energies positively. That’s what makes us better – super powers or not.
We are the best race ever created. The aliens are welcome to bring it because we can handle it. Superhero movies are the perfect, all-time ego boosters for us humans. It makes us feel better about belonging to the human race by showing us what the human race can do. Super powers aside, the inventions alone are swoon-worthy. True, we can’t all be Thor and lift that hammer (which Cap almost did and Vision totally – ok, no spoilers) but we can be Stark and use our brains and create wonderful things! And then maybe use caution and not create Ultron. Just saying. But then again, Jarvis…ok, no spoilers!
Then, there’s humor. I cannot appreciate this trait enough and cannot emphasize enough the need to just loosen up a bit, be witty and let life unroll. I mean really. Why so serious? Your troubles aren’t going anywhere until they do. It’s really that simple. And if whining and crying and tears and anger could scare them away, this world would’ve been trouble free since the first person who discovered wrath and fury. And I’m guessing it would’ve ended then too because – wrath and fury. So, do yourself a favor and get yourself some sense of humor. A pint goes a long way. I love the fact that our superheroes have their wit intact no matter where they are, who they’re up against. Humor is perhaps the biggest super power that gets them and us mere mortals through every thick and thin but sadly few people appreciate it. But do try. You can smile under stress if you wanted to.
Lastly, watching these flicks makes me ageless. I loved them when I was ten and I love them now when I’m – er – not ten. You never grow old! You’re only always as old as the superhero you’re crushing on. And look at them! They’re all ageless, young, healthy, never getting old. This is the beauty of it. Every time you watch it, the kid in you wakes up and enjoys it all over again.
I’m adjusting my mask and cape and getting ready to watch the new Avengers one more time. Laugh if you’re the unimaginative bore who’d rather sulk in a corner than enjoy a good fight of fists and wits!
This post was originally published in The Nation.