Douglas Wolk, author of “All the Marvels” read all 27,000 Marvel comic books, what is in effect, the largest/longest running and expanding mythic saga of our times. It’s also a handy means to reflect on today’s Superheroes and compare them to the mythic heroes of old.
How does a single story, within a coherent ‘universe’, evolve through multiple characters and contributors? What are the whys and wherefores of the ‘rule set’ of this universe, what are the qualities and challenges common to heroes, their mission, super powers, fears and foibles, and what does this reflect about us? how does their popularity speak to what is emerging in the culture, about the hero journey we are all undertaking? Perhaps people look to superheroes as beacons of selflessness in an age perceived as corrupt and full of negativity.
The myth of the hero’s journey is familiar. We are drawn to a hero who achieves great deeds on behalf of the group, tribe, or civilization.