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Old 08-22-2014, 11:09 PM
AndyJP AndyJP is offline

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Default Superhero and Psychology

Do you wear a mask?

A quote from Kill Bill, Vol 2: "...Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker...And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race."

I am going to blow your mind right now. Bill/Quentin Tarantino was completely wrong.

Superman = Clark Kent. He was born an alien, but was raised a human. Superman is the mask, Clark Kent is not the facade, that's who he really is. Strip Superman of his powers, he is not that alien, he is a human. An American in fact. He is an immigrant that has metaphorically reached the peak of the "American Dream". Now there are two Clark Kents. The ones that those closest to him see, that know about his powers see him blossom as the truest Clark Kent. The fake Clark Kent is what he wants the world to see, or rather what he wants the world to not see. This Clark Kent shows a lack of self-confidence, he's afraid to let people close in the comics because they could get hurt. Looking at this another way, this Clark Kent is afraid to let people get close to him because he's afraid that he could get hurt. He's got issues that are stigmatic in society and he's afraid of being judged by them. Perhaps his "powers" make him feel like a freak, he feels so alone and different from society and perhaps he even feels guilty for not being able to fit in. He might want to tell someone he's Superman, but in doing so he would be putting himself in a vulnerable position where he could be hurt.

Batman = Bruce Wayne. The death of Bruce's parents was a tragedy that had life-altering consequences for little Bruce. The world where he saw his parents as the all-knowing protectors (which is how we all see our parental figures as children in a healthy home), and the world that was devoid of horror and injustice was shattered right in front of him in perhaps the most horrific way possible. If you know anybody who has had a traumatic event in their childhood, you will know that this has had a profound effect on them that they will carry with them into adulthood. Bruce Wayne is that little boy that existed before the death of his parents, and that boy for the most part ceased to exist after that day. Batman is the person that he would become. Bruce Wayne is the mask. Bruce Wayne is the show he puts on for everyone so that they will not see the dark secret he hides, that he is Batman, or metaphorically, that he is a broken, troubled soul. In this way Batman's existence is to find that child once again, young Bruce, by fighting injustice, trying to recapture that memory of a world where bad things don't happen.

The superhero in general is what that's all about. We live in an imperfect world where the bad guy can win. We would like to not think that, but our countries, our ancestors, our idols have all done things that we don't agree with, whether they be immoral, unethical, or just completely horrific. The superhero battles our fears and insecurities, they restore order and give us that feeling of safety in a world where safety is not a guarantee. That's what makes superheroes in whichever incarnation they take and whichever media they make appearance in such a great and alluring escape.

The antihero appeals more to our dark desires. Whereas heroes bring justice, antiheroes more typically bring punishment and revenge. The antihero can do what we have hushed thoughts about doing, like murdering the asshole who cut you off in traffic (he was in a hurry to destroy the world). The antihero in us isn't bound by law. He is the dictator, the control we secretly wish we had over our world.

Super powers themselves can reveal a lot about ourselves too. Want the power to time travel? Maybe you have past regrets that you wish you could change, or maybe you're unhappy with life and you are seeking a better tomorrow. Want to turn invisible? Go for it, you closet pervert or introvert with social anxiety. Wish you could fly or be a speedster? As in, run away from your problems and stress? Or do you want super strength, because you want a way to release all that pent up anger or stress in satisfactory way? If you want the power to control others it is because you have control issues and you want the damn power to control others.

The truth is that we all have some kind of mental baggage. Few of us are aware, and even fewer of us seek help. For 16 years I have been in therapy for bi-polar disorder and social anxiety. I have had suicidal thoughts in the past, mental breakdowns, and panic attacks used to be regular occurrences. For several years I had symptoms of agoraphobia. I have learned a lot and overcome a lot. I still fight with bouts of mania that goes both ways, from a dark depression to super highs of energy abundance, hyperness, and great productivity. My desired super power is clairvoyance, the ability to see into the future, because I'd like to foresee the consequences of my actions, so that I wouldn't have to get hurt or embarrassed ever again. I have a lot of trust issues, but what I've learned is that trust starts with you.

So, are you wearing a mask? Is there an alter ego that you are hiding from us?
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