I am a fanatic of superheroes; not of your usual Gandhi or Mandela, but of super humans such as Goku, Spiderman and Batman, who are products of one’s imagination. They embody much of everyone’s childhood happiness and I still, heck, why not admit it, idolize them today.
The story is different for others. Children who adulate their action figures at one point, quickly lose interest due to a phenomenon known as ‘growing up’. This can be owed to the way they are portrayed in the media and general public. Superheroes are often mocked for their dumb or funny clothing, like superman and his conspicuous red underwear (red bikini for the harshest of critics). At times we find them childish and ignore them considering them to be fake or surreal. Their supernatural powers have no time and place in our ‘mature’ planet. But condemning comic heroes would be the same as condemning imagination. And going by the same logic, calling superheroes immature would be the same as calling imagination the same; now how mature is that?
We fail to realize the teachings of superheroes. Their guiding morals, powers, principles and selflessness are something worth noting. Their methods of serving justice to the needy, fighting crime, putting criminals behind bars etc. are more important than their superficial appearances. Many of these heroes are also great examples of the ‘rags to riches’ stories. They were raised in the toughest of environments and have became what they are today through great effort and determination. Batman, one of my favorites, is a great example exemplifying this.
Bruce Wayne to the rest of the world, Batman is a billionaire, playboy and a arms dealer. As a child he was scared of life after being traumatized by watching his parents die. Because of this tragedy, he trained himself to find vengeance, and do the right thing. He was a symbol of both hope and fear; hope for the innocent and fear for the corrupt. He lives by a single moral code of not taking away a person’s life. He believes justice can’t be served by the barrel of a gun because killing only leads to more criminals (He would have been a strong antagonist of capital punishment).
He has a list of remarkable achievements too. Defeating the man of steel and surviving 24 seconds in the vacuum of space are just a few of them. He also has laborious work ethics that have benefited him. After training under the league of assassins, he has become stronger in martial arts and a master in the art of disguise. In addition he has perfected the art of stealth and is an expert in human and animal pressure points. And of course, who can forget his bat-mobile, a super car as fast as a Lamborghini and yet, as tough as a tank. This might not be as didactic as his other features, but very cool nonetheless.
Batman’s tragic life as a child has made him stronger and push beyond human capabilities. He values the citizens of Gotham more than his own life and that is simply commendable. Let us not forget Batman, like any other mortal, is vulnerable to guns and knives and is emotional underneath his protective bat-suit. But even if you take away his gizmos and gadgets he is still the same extraordinary person, distinct from everyone else. His traits have carried him through tough situations like the time he had his back broken by the bane or like the time he was buried 6 feet under the ground and had a cocktail of drugs.
Comics are not simply created for aesthetic pleasure, but to teach valuable lessons like that of Batman. Critics may continue to label these heroes as noneducational or sometimes even anti-educational. But the purpose of these comics isn’t to teach people algebra or chemistry, but to give them role models who they can follow and look up to.