Heroes and Villains: Why We Love Them

Or hate them.

Or hate to love them. Or love to hate them.

For thousands of years, our human brothers and sisters have passed down stories, created tales and recorded myths of heroes and villains larger than life. The sides of good and evil continually butt heads, with each theory sending off its Champion for a not-so-final battle. Our society has stories with good ultimately prevailing, yet tales of the good folks coming short do exist.

Why do heroes and villains exist? Why are they so popular?

The human psyche is a beautiful, wild concept. But it is there, our training of understanding good and evil, is where it all begins. But there is more than that.

The Idea of  Something Bigger Than Ourselves
We are inherently attracted to conflict and sensationalism. Our 24 hour news cycle makes that quite clear. But what brings more conflict than the ultimate good and ultimate evil? The light versus the shadows?

Not much.

Our understanding of “pure good” and “pure evil” is minimal. Could we understand what 100% righteousness or 100% pure evil and hate really means? Think about it. The idea of going against something so pure is mind-boggling. Our curiosity exploits that lack of understanding, and so we use our creativity and imagination to fill it.

Put Our Shortcomings in Perspective
Not a single person enjoys to fail. There is no father or mother out there who wants to disappoint their child, no child who wakes up excited to embarrass their parents. We hate to be embarrassed, fail, and disappoint others. But, we are a resilient species, and one with a fantastic imagination. The appearance of superheroes and villains help society cope with shortcomings, in one way or another. Captain America was created because the public started to get weary of the spread of communism and America’s need for something larger than life. Superman was brought into view because surely crime would spread all over the city without an alien coming, falling in love with humans, and help clean it up. Batman came to life because society needed a man- someone “like” them- to just care enough to take the law into their own hands. What a way to cope!

Try to Answer: Who Will Win? Is There a Winner?
Yes, the final question. Can good survive without evil, or can the world go on with no good?

Will our world always need a champion for what’s right and good, and to squash those who fight back?

We use these fantastic figures to try to answer these questions. It is interesting to see how our society has come to grips with this question. For many, a faith would be the only thing needed to answer the question. However, people want to complicate matters, for that seems far too simple.

For example, Superman has no rival on Earth. Lex, though “evil”, had not the physical prowess to even think of going toe-to-toe with the Spandex Wonder. But wait, Kryptonite, the remnants of Superman’s own planet can weaken him.

Really?

Batman, the average joe’s superhero, has a heart of gold, but a thirst of revenge that seems very unhealthy. The police tolerate him, only to find his arch-nemesis, The Joker, who has a heart (maybe) of stone and no understanding of the value of life.

Hmm.

To be sure, as a society, we don’t know if good is able to survive without evil. Maybe, as a society, we don’t want it. There wouldn’t be any conflict. No darers daring to be great. No one needed to save the day.

What a boring, boring place that would be.

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