Essay on Superheroes

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Are Superheroes Positive Role Models?

Superheroes come in many different forms not all of them wear masks, capes, fly, and have supernatural powers, but one thing they all have in common is the fact that they’ve been around for many years influencing children of all ages and will continue to do so for many years to come. Superheroes all have qualities and characteristics that make them relatable to their fans and offer an escape from everyday life. These heroes have the ability to be positive role models for children because they instill hope and confidence in their hearts.

Superheroes build confidence in children because they show them anyone can be a hero. Children go through rough stages of self-doubt, low self-esteem, and little to no self-confidence. Superheroes can help them deal with these issues because they can relate to them on a deeper level. In the book Batman: Year One, Frank Miller shows a superhero to whom children can relate, because he’s human with no supernatural powers, yet he’s the ultimate superhero for those very reasons. This comic sends a message to children if Batman can do it so can we? In the images, Miller shows Lieutenant Gordon and Essan driving together, and you can see by the way they are looking at each other that they are flirting. In the lane next to them is a delivery truck that appears to be driving fast and out of control. The driver of the delivery truck is shown clenching the steering wheel tight, with his head laid back, eyes closed, and his face looks as if he’s in distress. Simultaneously the images show an older woman dressed in baggy clothing trying to pull her heavy metal shopping cart across the wet puddle-filled street. Just when the woman is about to get hit by the delivery truck, the image shows Gordon jumping from his moving vehicle trying to jump through the delivery truck's window to help get the vehicle to come to a stop. Gordon is shown stretching as far as possible trying to grip the steering wheel, but it’s just out of his reach, and he falls to the ground. The next image shows Batman swinging into the street from a light post to shove the old woman out of harm's way (41-43). When a child reads that section of the book, it shows them that even though Batman has no supernatural powers he makes up for that by using confidence, bravery, and using his heart and mind to save the old woman. The skills Batman uses are what make a true superhero, and this will reflect and inspire the children who relate to him.

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Superheroes offer an escape that children can relate to. At times children need an outlet to escape from their everyday life, and superheroes, comics, books, and movies can help provide that. It’s easy for a child to get lost and escape into a story they’re reading or watching, especially if the character is someone they can relate to, and makes them feel comfortable. In the article “Our fascination with Superheroes” Robin Rosenberg states “Good fiction, and good storytelling of any kind, allows us to become immersed in someone else's world and in doing so provides us with both an escape and emotional engagement.” according to Rosenberg “We can lose ourselves and temporarily forget our worries and woes, fears and foes” (6). While reading these two statements really helps tie together how superheroes help kids escape, because they love these superheroes and build an emotional bond that allows them to jump into their world. The emotional bond they build with their favorite superhero not only helps them gain trust but also gives them the ability to learn important life lessons from them.

Superheroes offer hope to children who are dealing with trauma, by showing them they can overcome hardships and good triumphs over evil. Superhero storylines have all had their fair share of traumatic experiences, and show us despite the odds they can overcome. One example that stands out in my mind is the book Daredevil written by Frank Miller. While reading this book it explained what a rough childhood Matt Murdock lived through, but to make matters worse something very traumatic happens to him. Miller’s images show a helpless blind man walking across a busy street with only a cane to guide him. The road appears to be very wet and uneven making it harder for him to walk. He then shows the street is packed with cars it appears to be rush hour, and one of those vehicles is an oversized delivery truck filled with heavy metal barrels about to slam into the blind man, but just in time it shows a young Matt Murdock pushing the blind man out of harm's way, and ultimately saves his life (16). Miller’s next images show Matt being rushed to the hospital by ambulance, and the text states “All he wants to do is die” (17). It’s very clear in the images that his condition is serious because there are eight doctors gathered around him in what appears to be deep thought consulting each other on his treatment. Matt ended up blind as a direct result of his heroic act of saving the blind man because the heavy barrels that were on the delivery truck fell off and spewed radioactive material all over him. At first, his only thought was that he wanted to die, but in time with hard work and determination, Matt overcomes his traumatic accident and becomes Daredevil. This is one of many powerful stories fueled by trauma that children can relate to, and it shows them that they too can overcome trauma with a little hard work and determination.

It has been argued that superheroes are bad role models for children. In the article “Superheroes of Today are Bad Role Models” David Batty quotes Professor Sharon Lamb who asserts “Today's superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he’s aggressive, sarcastic, and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity” (qt in Batty 1 ). Although it may be true that some people feel superheroes are aggressive and demonstrate violence, I still maintain that superheroes are positive role models, and while they may be aggressive and use violence at times, it's only used for the greater good while trying to protect others. This shows children it’s ok to be confident, strong, brave, and powerful when it’s necessary to protect themselves and others. Superheroes can be utilized as a great learning tool for children, especially in behavior modification and emotions. In the article “Children’s Attitudes Towards Superheroes as a Potential Indication of Their Moral Understanding” Justin martin quotes K, Bauer, and E, Dettore, who suggest “Different ways on which educators can use children’s fascination with superheroes to teach them how to behave inside and outside the classroom” (qt in Martin 241). This is because children can relate strongly to superheroes which build a great amount of trust, and respect, and helps them see the benefits of doing good things like the heroes they admire. In the article “The Importance of Heroes” Negsun states “Heroes direct children in the right direction, help people around them, and leave lasting impressions on the past, present, and future.” Negsun also states “Heroes stood up for what is right when others sat down, did ten times more than what was asked of them, questioned authority when authority was wrong and fought for the rights of all people.” The main thing people need to understand is that all superheroes have good and bad qualities, but they are only there to inspire children and give them wonder in their life. The parents are the ones responsible for raising the children and teaching them right from wrong.

Superheroes have a profound influence on the minds of children and continue to be Positive role models teaching them how to work through hardships and personal trauma, building hope and confidence, and giving them an escape from their everyday life. These are all important qualities that every child deserves, and sometimes these superheroes are the only thing a child has in their life that they can relate with. The wonder and joy these superheroes bring with them through their stories is powerful and has the potential to help many children who would otherwise be lost. Superheroes have a very important job of inspiring children, putting a sparkle of joy into their eyes, and helping them to be their own heroes in this place we call our world.

Works Cited

  1. Batty, David. “Superheroes of Today are Bad Role Models.” The Guardian News, 15 Aug. 2010, P. 1. www.theguardian.com/books/2010/Aug/16/superheroes-role-models-child-psychologist.
  2. Martin, Justin. “Children’s Attitudes Toward Superheroes as a Potential Indicator of Their Moral Understanding.” Journal of Moral Education, vol. 36, no. 2, 2007, pp. 239-250. doi.org/10.1080/03057240701325381.
  3. Miller, Frank. And John Romita JR. Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. Marvel, 2010.
  4. Miller, Frank, David Mazzucchelli, and Richmond Lewis. Batman: Year One. DC Comics, 2005.
  5. Negsun. “The Importance of Heroes.” Teen Ink Magazine, 2 Dec. 2010, p. 1. www.teenink.com/nonfiction/heroes/article/272229/the-importance-of-heroes/.
  6. Rosenberg, Robin. Our Fascination With Superheroes. Oxford University Press, 2013.
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