More Than Just A Hero

Amado Alfaro-Allah

English 3

Larissa Pahomov


More than just a hero

At one point, every child wants to be a superhero who does all the essential super hero deeds: saving people from tragedy, defeating bad guys, and being world renowned. The idea usually finds its way to young children through comic books, television and movies. But what happens when the situations get more complicated? What happens when a evil person is doing bad things for a good cause? Would it still be right to put them in jail? In real life these “good guys” & “bad guys” situations are complex because evil or bad is a relative term, two sides of the same coin.  Since people don’t have super powers, how when heroes who are just average or don’t have any power become relatable. The qualities that make a true superhero is when they are virtuous and powerful. The reason why stories that surround heroes who aren't the strongest and so many people are better than them. That's what makes stories so interesting and fulfilling to watch.

Heroes can either be anywhere on a relatable to powerful scale and amoral to virtuous scale. With relatable being typical human things and powerful being almighty and god like. The other has virtuos with heroes being centered on justice and very uptight about how saving every person is a necessity. Then the amoral heroes who’ll do anything to accomplish their goal no matter what the cost. For example, heroes in the majority of movies like Superman or the flash are Powerful beings with virtuous outlooks. A good example is in the “Man of Steel” movie from (name the year) when Lois Lane is in danger, even though Superman is being undercover he still decides to blow his cover to save Lois Lane. Then on the other side there are heroes like the Punisher who are amoral and kind of powerful. In the series movie and comic books Frank Castle a.k.a The Punisher, decides to seek out every single villain in Hell’s Kitchen and kill them. An example of this is that when the Punisher is confronted by the Russian Mafia he kills everyone until one man is begging for his life saying “Please I have a family” which the Punisher responds to “I had a family once” right before killing him. This is a key attribute for whom the punisher is, and shows that he’s so burdened by his loneliness and believes that the only way of doing good is getting rid of bad people all together.

The division of the heroes struggle can be seen in the book by Joseph Campbell The Hero With A Thousand Faces. The idea is that there are three main parts (departure, initiation, and return) with many other specific ideas under them. In stories the hero gets called to adventure, gets a great power of some sort, then defeats the evil, and promises to only use his powers for good. That's what makes so many heroes so predictable and alike today, because they follow this same narrative over and over again. These usually look cool and feel good to watch but people can never see themselves as these heroes because of their powers and set and stone ideals.

That's what makes all the heroes not on the virtuous powerful spot so interesting. Take for example a powerful hero, but a relatable one like Gon from Hunter x Hunter he’s from a fictional  show that's about exploration and discovery during the series the viewer follows him and his team to become hunters, an elite group who hunt for items, artifacts and even sometimes people. Gon is about 11 when he sets out to see to begin his adventure. He’s powerful and has superhuman abilities, but at the end of the day he is just a child and gets sad when he doesn’t win or angry because he knows he’s not the strongest and theres not alot he can do about it . What this means is that even though they have powers that give them an advantage over the common man, they are still weak to the surroundings around them, unlike the virtuous, powerful heroes who can change the surrounding around them. Characters like Shinji from NGE or Gon from Hunter x Hunter are relatable because even though they have powers, they can’t solve every little problem by hitting someone or power of the mind. In their world there are a lot of other people who are better than them and events or parts of their lives that just happen that they are in no control over whatsoever. Just like school children who can’t just fight the president or politician in power, they have a very little amount of impact on the world around them. With one show called Kaji about a compulsive gambler, he’s not very strong and hasn’t been really lucky with bad luck seemingly surrounding this character because in the first episode he is struggling from debt, because of a paper he signed for a co-worker years ago. He does anything it takes to win in the end, he knows he has no power and is weak physical and it frustrates him. Knowing that the world looks at him as a bum and he can’t really do anything about it. He knows that every time he goes into a Casino, no matter how much he might win they still make money. That's why watching him succeed matters so much to the viewer.

In the other spot there are powerful heroes but that are amoral, what this essentially means is that they are a super god like deity but they have some sort of flaw. People may argue that heroes like Superman flaw and that's kryptonite but it's not really a flaw more as illusion that the writers use to make a seem like superman is in danger because the writers know that superman is all powerful. So when there no weakness to the hero in the scene or panel you know they’ll be ok. Now when a hero who has amoral ideals it's hard to tell weather that hero is a bad person or just following the wrong ideals. So for example if there is a hero who is killing innocent people but the reason he kills innocent people is because it's the only way to save his hometown saving a million more other people in the process does that make him evil? Many people who have taken the trolley dilemma which is the idea if a trolley is speeding down train tracks and essentially what the person has to do is choose if you want the trolley to hit five people or one person. Many people have chosen to have the trolley kill one person rather than five, If someone must sacrifice one person to save five other people that doesn’t make the person evil necessarily.  

In the end the idea that makes heroes feel so relatable is not the powers and undaunting spirit but rather their room to grow. The idea of having a hero lose and get beaten up, to have him not at the top of everything in the world. (Christopher Vogler guide to a hero with a thousand faces) “The hero’s journey is meaningless without some trophy or prize” Essentially the prize for the heroes such as superman is the day is saved and he gets the girl but for the average hero the prize is the journey of growth and self acceptance.

When asked, fiction hero fans might say that it doesn’t matter what the hero stands for as long as the defeat the bad guys, but on closer inspection,the relatability of the hero to the reader or viewer directly affects how the audience feels.  When the  viewer starts zoning out or doing something else, that means that the character or hero in this case was flat and overdone. That's why when a hero is interesting on screen and the decisions made are unusually, it can be the thing that the viewer sees on tv while doing something and then stops to sit down and watch or read whatever the hero is in because the hero was written well and felt fresh.

Works CIted's_journey.htm, Cambell Joseph, pg 2, “The writers” published,2008, Opened 9-18-17

Vogler Christopher"A Practical Guide to Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Christopher Vogler” published 1949, Mark Braulent (Scriptwriter) “Punisher 2004 game” published 2005, Opened 9-20-17 Joe. K, “” Oct-4-2015, Opened 9-21-17 Nobuyuki Fukumoto “” published 1996, Opened 9-21-17 Warner bros pictures, “” first published June 18 2013, Opened 9-22-17 Lauren, D, Olempio, “The trolley dillema” “”June 2, 2016, Opened 9-23-17

Comments (5)

Genero Accooe (Student 2019)
Genero Accooe

I enjoyed this 2fer because it helped build upon my previous thoughts on what a superhero is and what they stand for. One question I thought of was, what does the villain of the story stand for then. If the hero is imperfect then does the villain need to be almighty or is a weak villain just as good for the story?

Eli Zimmerman (Student 2019)
Eli Zimmerman

This was a great 2fer, I enjoyed the unique topic. I also like this topic because it's so relevant with the superhero industry being do popular right now. It made me realize how all superhero movies only have a good and bad side but nothing in between.

I want to know how this will affect the next generation of kids and how they perceive people who do bad things for a good cause.

Mindy Saw (Student 2019)
Mindy Saw

A question I have after reading this is how has your personal experience with superheros effect the argument of the good vs bad in superheros?

This 2fer has changed my opinion on how superheros mean more than just a hero. As I was reading this 2fer, I wa flashing back to all the superhero movies I've watched to relate to what you were trying to portray in your 2fer.

Tyreek Speedwell (Student 2019)
Tyreek Speedwell

After reading this 2fer, I grew a better understanding of why things do get complicated with the idea of ¨Good vs Bad¨. This kind of thing definitely is very confusing as you grow up. I never even thought about why superheroes even had a weakness. I really want to know about villain side now.

Miguel Rivera (Student 2019)
Miguel Rivera

I really enjoy this 2fer because it gave me a different point of view about superheroes. It allowed me to see that not all superheroes are not meant to be perfect. They have normal wants and needs. Those superheroes are meant to reflect the people who are reading and watching them. I wondering what is the villain role in this situation. Also the effect of superheroes on people and how many people can relate to superheroes.