Films, comic books bring out our inner superhero

Published 6:56 am Saturday, May 5, 2018

Unless you’ve been abducted by a nefarious villain or you’re off-planet saving the galaxy, you know superheroes are dominating pop culture.

The Avengers Infinity War movie is crushing records at the box office like they were criminals. The movie has set a host of new high watermarks when it comes to biggest opening weekend and biggest domestic draw of all time.

That’s not to mention just upping the ante when it comes to action and spectacle in summer blockbusters.

Email newsletter signup

While many quote-unquote experts have long predicted viewers will face fatigue over the spandex-clad heroes, we simply aren’t seeing it yet, with virtually each film building on the successes of those that came before it.

This level of success has become a cultural phenomenon. So the simple question is: Why do superhero movies continue to resonate so strongly with viewers?

The answer is far more complex and likely varies from individual to individual. Certainly one factor is many of us aspire to greatness and like the idea the world can be black and white. It is comforting to think the good guys are noble and virtuous while the villains are evil to the core.

I met my first superhero in 1978 at the age of three, discovered them hiding in stacks of yellowing comic books from at least a decade before that were tucked up in the attic of our farm.

It was pretty much love at first site.

I remember countless winter days where all I did was read them over and over again and later cutting them up to make my own action scenes.

I devoured any comic books I could get my hands on, first looking at the pictures and then letting my father teach me how to read on them.

By the time I made it to kindergarten or first grade, I was already reading well above my grade level. Deciphering “See Jane run” is a piece of cake after reading every villain espouse their devious plot to take over the world in great detail.

The vocabulary was light years ahead of your average children’s book.

I often joke that I went into journalism because I was disappointed to learn I couldn’t be Spider-Man, so I decided to settle for Peter Parker.

And there is a lot of truth to that.

Newspapers and their employees were an integral part of many early comic book stories, often the backdrop for Spider-Man and Superman comics.

So, why do comic books and superhero films continue to have such a strong impact?

I think it is because we all have heroes inside us.

These movies push us to want to do more, to want to be more. They help us recapture the magic of our youth and look at the world through a different prism.

Maybe the craze will wear off and we won’t have two or three superhero movies a year. And, if so, that’s OK.

I wouldn’t bet on it though.

Inspiring others to greatness is timeless and always going to be needed, one page or one movie at a time.

Michael Caldwell is interim publisher of The Advocate-Messenger. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at