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Why Superhero Movies Work so Well

Beverlee
Posts: 721
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9/8/2013 2:07:47 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Let's say you go over to your best friend's house, and find her dad's collection of VCR (disks?) movies. You pop one into a VCR that still works to see what was going on back in the '80s.

In the movie, a half-naked guy (whose name is not "Bambo") is holding an impossibly heavy-looking machine gun in one hand, and a chain of bullets in the other. He is standing out in the open, up on a hill, and he is being shot at by an entire army of the most inept (highly trained) soldiers in the Vietnamese army. These poor guys are shooting artillery (at a moving target the size of Sylvester Stallone), AK-47's and grenades at him, but don't worry, he's fine.

You know how this goes...

In my opinion, this is why superhero movies have been such a success. The heroes could be better looking than Steven Segal or Jean-Claud van Damm. There were very good (if not realistic) reasons why they didn't die when they got shot at. And imagination could replace the need for gritty realism and gore.

In other words, by not making even the least little bit of effort to create a realistic story, a lot of superhero movies actually end up with audiences that are more willing to overlook issues with physics and probability. Viewers don't feel as stupid playing along with these stories, because they were never meant to be taken seriously in the first place.
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
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9/14/2013 8:16:01 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Technically, I think action movies like Rambo are about heroes rather than superheroes, but I'll admit their luck is on the supernatural level. They are popular because people like the good guy triumphing over all odds, and because people like to watch things explode. This is fundamental to human nature.

During WWII, John Wayne and others made hero movies to propagandize the war. They were not as ridiculous as present day movies in terms of the hero accomplishing the impossible, but they were pretty far out. I read that the Japanese propaganda movies of the period took a different. Their idea, if I understand correctly, is that it isn't heroic to just win against impossible odds. Rather, they showed soldiers suffering horribly for their cause with ambiguous results.