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X is for X-Men and Superheroes

07 May

Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 7.51.43 PMScreen Shot 2014-05-06 at 8.16.41 PMGuest Post for A to Z Challenge by Ryan King (Author of the Land of Tomorrow Series)

Superheroes have long been popular and came into their own in the early twentieth century. These characters took the place of such folklore personas as Paul Bunyan, Johnnie Appleseed, Daniel Boone, Davie Crockett, Pecos Bill and Bigfoot Wallace. The comic book medium caused the idea and popularity of superheroes to explode and this trend has continued with television, movies, and graphic novels.

But, why are we fascinated with superheroes? My four boys are all adopted from Africa. None of them had much exposure to these characters prior to coming to America, but immediately they all wanted to be like superheroes. They dressed up in Batman and Spiderman costumes and pretended that they were powerful and courageous.

Looking across the street from my house, I could tell when one of my children was imagining himself as one of these characters. They stood up straighter, looked around boldly, and strode upon our street like they were the master of the universe. When they weren’t pretending, they were cautious and uncertain of their place in the world. They recognized that there was danger around them and were uncertain of their ability to overcome evil and injustice. They were uncertain of themselves and what they were capable of.

Superheroes are like many role models in that we admire them and wish to be like them. They are different from others around them and usually seek to fight evil, protect the weak, and are not afraid. Childhood is an extremely traumatic experience, even if you come from a model home and stable family. Imagining oneself as powerful, fearless, and good can be an effective coping mechanism for a vulnerable, lonely, and uncertain child. Superheroes held children cope with an overwhelming world and daily life.

But this is not to say that the love of superheroes doesn’t have a place in adult life also. In a world filled with corruption, violence, craven selfishness, and greed, isn’t it wonderful to imagine a character who is the opposite of all these things? In a world that is so lacking in heroes, our imaginative superheroes often take their place in our minds. Even though it is fantasy, it changes how we think and look at the world. Even if a character is fictional, it doesn’t mean we can’t want to emulate them.

We identify with superheroes and wish we were like them, but we can be. We all possess the ability to change the very fabric of our universe. It is within us and we have all the power we need. Superheroes are saving the world…through us.

As Marianne Williamson said,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

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Ryan King launched his indie author career in 2012 while keeping his day job with the US Army. Watch for his upcoming guest spot here featuring monthly reviews of post-apocalyptic and/or dystopian fiction. For more information about Ryan and his writing visit the link here.

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