Define the stereotypical superhero. First off, it is a hero figure with a superpower right? When I think of this idea of the superhero, I picture a super-being going around the city and solving crime. The best depiction of a superhero I can think of is Spiderman. He cruises around Manhattan and when he spots a crime being implicated in the city below, he swoops in and stops it. It is easy to forget about the simple bank robberies and muggings that superheroes are usually about, because it is so more interesting to follow the Jokers and the Lex Luthors – the super villains that actually stand up to our favourite heroes. However, at a base level, a superhero is meant to make us feel safer, a character trying to remove petty theft and organised crime from the city.

How many modern superheroes in the several movies we have at the moment live up to that definition? Again, Spiderman is a clear example of the original idea of a superhero. Batman also lives up to our expectations, although Nolan focused his Dark Knight on the ‘going for the top of the criminal ladder’ side of things. Superman also suits this idea, although he is usually seen stopping natural disasters. What about the others though? Especially the Avengers unit…

No doubt about it Avengers Assemble was a superhero movie. Nick Fury grouped several powerful figures together and they saved the city, probably the world. It was part of the charm of the movie that it was so stereotypically superhero. Joss Whedon took all of these great characters and brought them back to basics. However, when we break it down, some of those characters and their original movies aren’t really a superhero movie in the conventional sense. As we discussed recently, the Hulk is pretty much a super villain, rather than a hero. It is only when Fury and Banner learns to control the Hulk that we truly begin to feel that the Hulk can be classed as a superhero. Other than that, Banner can only treat Hulk like a bomb. Place him somewhere they want damage to be done and then Hulk up.

But the others are quite clearly superheroes right. Well, Tony Stark doesn’t exactly go out of his way to fight crime, does he? He built the suit, simply to survive being kidnapped by terrorists and after that, he needed the suit to keep him from being killed by the shrapnel embedded into his chest. However, in both Iron Man 2 and 3, when does Stark face off against the villain? In both cases, Whiplash and the Mandarin have to physically attack him or someone close to him, before the Iron Man even begins hunting the bad guys down. For the rest of the movies, Stark is just being a rich guy with a metal suit. There is no drive to actually be a superhero, until Nick Fury twists his arm, or there is some personal gain to be acquired from being a superhero.

Jesus, Spiderman, stop being such a goodie- two shoes. So lame!

Jesus, Spiderman, stop being such a goodie- two shoes. So lame!

Thor, also, isn’t much of a superhero. For one, he is King of his own world, Asgard, making it rather hard to classify him as the kind of hero who watches over us at night. In Thor and Avengers Assemble, his hero antics happen when he ends up on Earth. In Thor, this occurrence is against his nature and he feels responsible for the Destroyer’s havoc on Earth. Again, in Avengers Assemble, he feels responsible for Loki, therefore he comes to Earth to take care of his problems. He is more of an accidental superhero, whereas in his universe, he is classified as a leader. From what I have read on Thor 2, the new director, Alan Taylor (fresh from the Game of Throne’s first season), and his vision for Thor: The Dark World goes even further on his direction, abandoning almost all traces of Thor’s superhero characteristics and portraying him as more of a soldier.

Ah, soldiers. That brings us to the final Avengers hero, Captain America. I am not very sure where the second movie will take Captain America, but in the first one, he is more a genetically-engineered soldier than a hero. Granted, Captain America’s origin story doesn’t really lend itself to a classic superhero tale, but it still makes him count as this anti-hero figure we seem to be collating. I see Captain America as more of the World War Two version of James Bond. He and a crack team go undercover, trying to turn the war by taking out the Red Skull in combat, ending up in a man-to-man showdown. There is a sense that Cap is more of an assassin here, rather than a superhero.

Don’t get me wrong. I support this movement. Sadly, Spiderman, the clearest depiction of these superhero figures, kind of feels behind-the-times recently. The Amazing Spiderman struggled, because it was too simple a superhero movie. Introduce hero, introduce villain, they fight, happy ending. Iron Man is one of the most loved Marvel figures, because his character has so many layers. The X-Men get away with not being superheroes in the strictest sense, because their stories deal with segregation and racism. If we are going to be constantly given these superhero movies (are we averaging four or five a year now?), they need to evolve into something greater than a symbol hero flick. And thankfully, Marvel have succeeded in doing that.

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