Superhero Squad

I want to say that I was a princess kind of girl when I was little…but that’s not precisely accurate. More accurate to say I was a castle-and-prince-charming-dreaming, pretty dress-wearing, tree-climbing, hay bale-jumping, vine-swinging kind of girl. An Annie and Indiana Jones kind of girl. A Beauty and the Beast and Star Wars/Star Trek kind of girl. (Okay, brace yourself. I actually was a member of the Star Wars fan club. Geekdom confirmed.)

One thing I turned my nose up at, however, was superheroes. We might have watched a couple of Superman movies when they came out on TV. But I mean, seriously. Those costumes? Who would be caught dead in them?

Meeting Christian required learning a whole new vocabulary—and for a long time, I tolerated the capes, tights and masks of his guilty pleasures with much eye rolling.

Slowly, though, I came to a grudging respect for these guys, helped along, no doubt, by the fact that superheroes have grown up. They’re no longer jumping around, Errol Flynn-like, striking poses and acting all Shakespearean.

Hugh Jackman at the X-Men Origins: Wolverine p...

These days, you get to see what makes them tick, what hurts them and what drives them. You see what they’ve lost, what they’ve given up, the inner struggles that make them just like us, only with really cool powers. Marvel, in particular, seems to be on a roll lately. The X Men franchise had me a long time ago…it only took casting Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. But who would ever have guessed I’d enjoy watching Captain America? I spent almost a week thinking about that movie, revisiting scenes. I mean, really. Captain America?????

As a mother of boys, I’m now a confirmed superhero fan. I’m getting to know them all—not just the biggies, like Superman & Batman, but the ones I’d never heard of until adulthood. What’s not to like? These are people who face difficulties and dangers to keep the rest of us safe. People who manage to navigate the sometimes-murky waters of right and wrong and come out on top.

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if these people really existed? Could they inspire us to find compassionate and truly just solutions to problems like institutional sex abuse? Could they clean up Washington, convince the (anything but) “super” committee to get their heads out of their…?

Well, anyway. The reality is that those problems are much more complicated than Red Skull trying to take over the world, the solutions much less clear. And therein lies the value of superhero stories. The things that make life in our world so difficult don’t have simple (no matter how difficult) solutions. Superhero stories give us clear-cut good guys, men and women without sordid pasts, who have good hearts. Superheroes are people we all, no matter what our political, religious or philosophical beliefs, can come together in rooting for.

I still can’t read comic books. I can’t even figure out what order to read the words on the pictures, and the overemphasized body parts set my teeth on edge. But the stories—those stories give us hope.

Now that I’ve gotten all gushy, you need to watch this video, one of many “how it should have ended” videos. HILARIOUS. But probably unfathomable if you didn’t actually watch the movie.