I'm pretty sure I subscribed to the following motto for a great many years of my life:
To strive for perfection is to be constantly disappointed
[Spoken like the true pessimist eh? Or realist? Is there a difference?]
And so I didn't strive.
It must have been my motto though: I didn't try at anything, I did them to my most moderate ability. I think that's why I took so keenly to characters of the superhero nature but mostly the mainstream Marvel and DC characters, Transformers, and of course Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
I must have longed for the ability to be great, to have extraordinary gifts of ... whatever. I longed for the fantastic, an escape from my entirely moderate existence. I think what I most wanted was flight (isn't that the number one most sought after ability??). It was there, I felt I could be entirely myself, curling up next to some clouds banking hard right and left with a flock of birds. That's what I wanted. The spectacular. Indeed, I would imagine myself with some version of super ability doing things of the superior nature: feats of strength, agility, the propensity for making things explode, flight, invisibility (this last one wasn’t really a favorite of mine though).
The last 10 years or so was teeming with superhero/power movies, many of them from the Marvel Universe.
I heard a story on the radio recently of hoards of people camping out to get a chance to view a pre-screening of the newest superhero movie coming out, The Avengers, wherein, nearly all of the characters who've had their origin stories told in the last 10 years come together to battle some kind of massive cosmos-shattering threat. Part of the reporter's story was asking people why they were there, and what made them come out before dawn to see this pre-screening. A gentleman answered that he was drawn to these characters because it represented something that he could be. That's what got me thinking as to why I liked experiencing these characters, they were something I was not, but something I wanted to be. And then there was the subjugated part of me that was all, "hey, you're moderate."
Things blowing up is pretty neat too, and yes I know it's all CGI. I like the character driven story as well (Pretty Woman anyone?!?). Superheroes and their fantastic feats and incredible stories have piqued my interest not only because of the stuff they blow up, but I found they had traits that I wanted: wit, bravery, courage, strength, intelligence, physical prowess, intellectual prowess, and even emotion.
I think that's part of why some of the heroes exist (even the anti-hero), to explore human traits (Wolverine’s sordid past), to exemplify some human traits (Superman/Captain America), and identify the connections and confrontations among them. And on the not-so-philosophical side, things explode....lots of things explode. So both of these aspects drew me to super-abilitied characters. And, as I've mentioned before, that's also why I got into video games - because there was a virtual, separate world where I could do things I couldn’t normally and be someone or something that I wasn't. Plus, it entertained me, obviously.
Could that be a universal thought? The want to be something other than what is?
I'm pretty sure that the super(anti)hero movies made did not attempt to explore these types of things in depth - they just wanted to tell an origin story which may include some passing personal exploration, but mainly, it was just a "here's how this thing came to be" with some action sequences thrown in.
Most have loved and lost: Superman had his family, Spiderman had Mary Jane, Bruce Banner had Betty, Batman also had his family. The list goes on, but I'm not any sort of knowledgeable on the vastness that is DC and Marvel.
Some part of me feels sort of silly for talking about superheroes like this, but on the other hand, this is part of the way I survived my childhood - I numbed my reality and dove headfirst into Marvel/DC world, gaming, and . I still enjoy the movies - I mean it is fun to see these characters come to life and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I do have to be careful though, not to slip entirely into this fake world – therein will be my demise.