A hero is defined as a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Some would say heroes are those who save lives, while others would say it’s about the good guy beating the bad guy. There are many admirable attributes for heroes that people would like to aspire to, which may be why 2018 has proven to be a year where comic book heroes have taken center stage, ranging from the masterfully done Black Panther to an animated film like Incredibles 2.
I remember superheroes leaving a bad taste in my mouth after the failure of Justice League back in November of 2017. There was still the fun of the Marvel films that had come out that year, but almost none really gave off the feeling of heroism. It was fights here and fights there. Then Black Panther came out in February of 2018, and everyone was practically floored by how well it did, including myself. It still had the same action as I anticipated, but the message behind it gave way to a new perspective; one to help and heal and not to take revenge. The film made more in the United States than anywhere else combined. Let that sink in.
Of course, there was Avengers: Infinity War right afterwards. The superhero team-ups of the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Doctor Strange to fight the all-powerful Thanos was an anticipated blockbuster that broke the weekend opening record. Spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but the heroes don’t win. They come close, but they ultimately fail. The film leaves you begging for more, and you’ll get it eventually, but not until next year.
Skipping past Ant-Man and the Wasp since it was more of a filler Marvel film, we have Incredibles 2. The lovable characters we knew from 2004 were back and animated better than ever, but things basically picked up from where the last film left off. Being heroes while raising a family sounds difficult, but these parents do it despite the craziness they have to deal with from their superpowered kids.
So what made superheroes so popular? They made money in the box office, sure, but why now? Is it because we all can relate to these characters? Is it because they can spur our emotions with their actions? I had recently seen an anime film being released for a short time called My Hero Academia: Two Heroes. Centering around kids training to be heroes one day, I remember being on the edge of my seat with each passing minute of action. The reason superheroes are popular is because we want to see them succeed. We want to see them win the day and help people. And even when they can’t, we know they’ll just try harder next time.