I saw the following video a few months ago and it really made me laugh. Enjoy:
The video is tongue in cheek, but it really does raise a question: Why so many superheroes?
Not that I am complaining. We are living in the greatest era for superhero films, and I for one love it! There are an astonishing number of films with some of our favorite all time superheroes, all the way to the downright obscure.
This post isn’t about the sheer amount of heroes in the Marvel and DC universes though. Instead, it is along the lines of, “In a world of super individuals, why does it seem that the team dynamic is winning out?” It isn’t enough that we have a lot of movies about heroes, it is that in each of these movies we see whole teams of superheroes.
I caught the original batman movie the other night and after all these years it is still my favorite of the Batman movies. Michael Keaton is my favorite Bruce Wayne, hands down.
I also caught Superman IV the other afternoon and while it seems WAY less cool because of the digital effects, it is still a pretty solid action film. Also, Christopher Reeve my favorite Clark Kent.
It used to be that one superhero–such as Superman or Batman–was enough to engage an audience for 22 pages, or an hour and 30 minutes. Yet these days we now see whole teams of super powered heroes such as the Avengers or Guardians of the Galaxy.
The superhero team dynamic is where the money is at.
Even the individual movies are much more about the teams now (See Captain America: Civil War). Heck, one of the best super hero shows on TV—the Flash—is much more about the team around him than just the fastest man alive. If there is no Cisco, there is no show IMO.
But why? America is an individualistic society, are we not? So then why are we all of the sudden enamored with the team dynamic?
The hero journey is no longer enough. We want to see a group of individuals on their own journeys come together and become unified. (Did you hear that America? United.)
We can look back to one of the most epic film trilogies, the Lord of the Rings, to see where this really started to take shape. We have Frodo—an unassuming hero to be—take on a challenge impossible for one man, especially half a man. So we see a motley crew assembled to assist him on his journey.
Most of this team doesn’t even like each other to start the journey and they evolve into the greatest of friends through a shared experience. I think we are seeing a shift in our culture where people are realizing that even the most talented people a little help from their friends.
I also think that this explains the recent struggle of DC providing the right Superman storyline. As we see the cultural shift that favors the group dynamic, we also notice that we are weary of the great individual. Superman as a supremely powerful and a completely pure individual is now a tough pill to swallow, which is probably a commentary about how often leaders have let us down.
So as we embrace that everyone is an imperfect human and will likely let us down, the group dynamic has become a necessity of a good storyline. This is also at the core of human nature. “It is not good for man to be alone,” Genesis 2:18 tells us. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna get all churchy, folks.
When we watch a group of characters come together we see the chemistry develop over the course of their journey. And we also see how each member of the team is as important as the others because of the unique individual gifts they bring to the table. The beauty of the group dynamic is it still allows us to celebrate differences and unity. (Did you hear that America?!)
Half the time it doesn’t even really matter what brings the group together, we just want to see them rise to the occasion. Hawkeye gives a great speech to the Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron, where he fully admits, “None of this makes sense!” It is just something they are going through for our entertainment of course.
But perhaps there is a lesson to be learned. As we see in the opening to the movie review, there is a serious threat, too serious for any of the Avengers individually, and Captain America admits that the only way they could defeat those threats are, “together.” It isn’t even just about strength in numbers, but it is finding a way to compliment those around you and become the best version of yourself.
At least that what I always take away from the teams.