I wanted to find the original video, but there wasn’t one embedable, so I used the one below.
Robot 6 clued me in to a posting by comic writer Bill Willingham at Big Hollywood. And just today Silver Age Comics pointed to a matching post by the Fortress of Fortitude. Both have a good point. The song above has one line that I think defines the fictional hero.
And the reason that she loved him was the reason I loved him, too.
He never wondered what was right or wrong. He just knew.
People will tell you that’s not realistic. What’s so realistic about two guys in spandex flying around and shooting each other with death rays? Now granted, I don’t mind seeing heroes occasonally fail and have to live with it, or even better, rise above it and become better heroes for it. However, super heroes are getting darker and darker. Even in the DC Universe you have heroes brainwashing villains into reforming, mostly because the powers that be at DC wanted them to be evil again, so why not make our heroes look bad? (Except for Batman, but then they mindwiped him as well, and he goes on to create another threat in the form of the OMACs.)
Then there’s Marvel. Actually, just read the crossovers. Ask Scarlet Witch if Civil War was the start of deconstructing heroes. Speaking of which, I stopped watching the first season of Heroes, because it was so dark, and ambiguous. Moral ambiguity has even been extended to real-life heroes, as Hollywood has put out movies showing that everyone from famous cowboys to our Founding Fathers had skeletons in the closet, and were never as pure as we thought. Sports heroes, and any other celebrity that takes one misstep end up in the crosshairs of the press, especially if they claim some kind of morals. (Kathie Lee, anyone?) And I stopped watching pro wrestling when the “babyfaces” started acting more like the “heels” than the heroes.
The Entertainment media has been deconstructing our heroes and heroism for a long time. The good guys often fight just to maintain the status quo and if they get too far ahead will be somehow de-evolved to make “better stories”, which is really about the writers wanting to write the stories they grew up with rather than advance the character or the world they live in. (Hello, Spider-Man, the Flash, Green Lantern.) Let’s not start on the “we must maintain the balance between good and evil, and no one side may get stronger” nonsense, although I’m sure I will eventually.
It’s time to say good-bye to moral ambiguity. I need heroes to root for. I need heroes who stumble but eventually know “what was right from wrong” and act on it. And I need to see a fictional world where heroes live, and hope is in improving life rather than maintaining the status quo, and pointing out only the bad parts of life.
Marvel Adventures and Johnny DC’s super heroes that actually are just aren’t enough for me. I think I’m going to have to create such a world myself. It’s time to declare war on “grim and gritty”. Dark has it’s place, but so does light. Remember light? Remember fun? Superhero stories, and this goes double for the live versions, take themselves too seriously these days.
Bring back my heroes!