“If you could have any Super power, what would it be and why?” My friend asks me this as we’re walking through the aisles at a popular comicbook stop. I contemplate my answer, not because it’s a question so grande in scale that only one answer is the right answer. I contemplate it because I have been asked this same question a million times over and I need a new answer. I never answer the same thing twice.
What is it with our fascination with Superheroes? Why do we yearn for superpowers and the status of Demigods? Is it an innate human trait we all possess? Is it the eternal question, right after who are we and why are we here?
The symbolism of such a dream is everywhere. In hollywood, ordinary people with a talent for lying are risen on pedestals like gods of olympus. On wallstreet, those who can make a good bet are revered like noblemen.
In the literary world, great writers are akin to great philosophers; thinkers beyond the mere mortal. Why? What is the craving for perfection and the eventual adulation? Little boys are expected to worship their fathers who seem beyond reality, until youth gives way to knowledge and knowing and our fathers are reduced to the mere mortals they are.
Our mothers are goddesses, impervious to pain. They never shrink or fade until that oneday we see them broken, in an act of vulnerability we never knew existed.
When this happens; when our heroes are exposed for the simple people they truly are, we feel cheated. Some of us grow with it. Let the reality of it consume us until we too become the people who are not dreams, fading to black.
But the rest of us, we turn a cheek toward the heroes that never fade, never die. They are perfect in every way that matters. They are impervious to bullets. They can touch the sun without getting scorched. In a blink of an eye they can traverse the planet. They don’t pay bills. They don’t have to walk the dog. They have bigger and better things to do.
They are versions of the people we want to be.
They are the outward exstensions of the heroes within us all. In this day and age they reside in the pages of a comic book, but in days of old, they were the stuff of legend. Sometimes it seems that their backstories are so real, maybe they were too.
Did Hercules really exist? How about Poseidon, or Athena...Osiris and Isis? Remember Moses? How about Samson? And then of course, there was Jesus. Depending on your religion or heritage, these people were not characters of some transcontinental word of mouth. They were real?
Superhumans are the stuff of fanboys (and fangirls), hollywood blockbusters and Scifi novels today. But why do we still have a love affair with Superhumans?
If they don’t exist; if they are memes of an overactive imagination, then why do we still feel a connection to them? Why do we want to be them? Why do some of us go to bed at night wishing we had the power to save the world? Why bother wasting the prayers when deep down it’s all supposed to be make believe? Maybe there is a very deep reason for superhero worship. What if there was a time when we did have power. The power to do anything but sit at a desk and ruminate?
Ancient Indian texts speak of men in flying vehicles with the power to raze cities to the ground. In Ancient Egypt, tales of the Eye of Ra, and weapons of Thoth are synonymous with our current tales of flying superhumans. Even farther back, in Celtic lore, old kings were christened on a hill that was the home of a superhuman race?
In Sumeria, a superhuman race started an entire civilization of learned men. Our history is replete with the probability of Superhuman existence.
The stories go on and on, from country to country, people to people and to think I pay two dollars and twenty-five cents to read what my ancestors may have lived through. Too bad none of them are around to brag.