We Are The Superpowered Review
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” - Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. is probably the most well-known Civil Rights icon in America. His stance on social justice helped to shape generations of "woke" individuals and still does today. He was not without his demons, for no man is perfect, but it is that duality that speaks to his humanity and our own. He was human. We are human. If he could give his everything to an ideal, warts and all, then so can we. Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, Ralph Abernathy, Malcolm X, Baba Saheb, Alice Paul and countless others sacrificed everything, including, for some, their very lives to the cause of equality. It is for that reason that we have decided to take our brand in this direction. However, what does social justice have to do with the fantasy of the Superhero?
In 1963, the character Charles Xavier was created to be the mentor and leader of the fledgling mutant superhero group 'The X-men'. That character's development was influenced by none other than Martin Luther King, Jr. The character, however flawed, was a pacifist by nature and insisted that the X-Men use their abilities to protect mankind. Peace was the only way to co-exist. This was in stark contrast to his long-time friend but frequent enemy Erk Lehnsherr, also known as Magneto. Magneto's development was influenced by the earlier actions of Malcolm X, who determined that in order to get from under the thumb of injustice, any means, including and perhaps most effective--violence--was necessary. The X-Men were the colorful representatives of the downtrodden. They were the gays and lesbians. They were minorities. They were us. Powerful, intelligent and gifted, but suppressed by a majority that feared their potential and, in some cases, sought to use them for personal gain.
Prior to Marvel's surge in popularity in the 60's, the comic book powerhouse with no real rival was DC Comics. Their heroes, however, were infallible. They were perfect beings for pre-teens to aspire to become. It wasn't until later that our heroes became variations of what we know today: Human.
Our heroes are a reflection of ourselves. They reflect the times we live in, the pain we hide, the prejudices we face and the fears we share. They give our children hope that they can overcome the loss of their parents (Batman) , the pressures of adolescence (Spider-Man) , and the struggles that every family goes through (Fantastic Four) . Even as adults, we all hide our demons with a mask of courage (Hal Jordan) . We secretly hope that even though our pasts may be sullied, we can find redemption (Wolverine).
Right now our world is in peril. Our leaders do not care about us. The world is either laughing at us or preparing for what seems to be impending war. Superheroes are needed now, as much as at any time in the past. Our modern myths and secret pleasures are one of the few things that stand in the way of complete morbidity. No matter how campy or literal, no matter how light or morose, the superhero will be around for quite some time to frame our insecurities in a little escapism.