How I Became a Superhero Fan(atic)
“We love our superheroes because they refuse to give up on us. We can analyze them out of existence, kill them, ban them, mock them, and still they return, patiently reminding us of who we are and what we wish we could be.”
― Grant Morrison
I was a young child when I was first introduced to superheroes. I have memories of watching reruns of the old Batman TV series starring Adam West. Sure it was a bit cheesy, but it was strangely entertaining. And who could forget the fight scenes, all it took were a couple of POW's! and BAM's! and the villains were defeated. It sparked something inside of me that I never imagined would come into fruition in my 40's.
As a child, I never read any comic books or graphic novels. My friends and I were consumed by sports. However, I remember the release of the Tim Burton Batman movie in 1989. As a 14 year old, I recall my excitement in seeing the Dark Knight brought to life on the big screen. It renewed my interest in superheroes. I watched all the sequels, but my enthusiasm began to fizzle in correlation with the quality of each successive movie.
Superheroes were on my radar again in 2000, with the release of the X-Men movie. It was probably one of the first superhero movies to take a more realistic approach to its story and characters. It's also the first time I was introduced to Wolverine, one of my absolute favorite superheroes. I mean how can you not like a grumpy, mutant, anti-hero with healing abilities and metal claws that pop out of his hands? The antihero is an interesting character, one who lacks conventional heroic qualities but manages to do heroic acts.
Then it happened, in 2005, Batman got a reboot. I was 30 years old when I went to see Batman Begins. I went into that movie with no expectations. I remember being enthralled by this new version of the Dark Knight. I liked the way Christopher Nolan took a grittier, realistic approach to the character. He made it seem possible that a Batman could exist in the real world, our world. I think that movie was ultimately the spark for the Uncanny Superhero Training Program. I started to wonder what it would take to be a real life superhero.
I was a little slow to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). I really enjoyed Captain America: The First Avenger and the Avengers movie. It was more fantasy based than the Dark Knight trilogy, but they did an amazing job introducing complex characters and a connected universe with mind boggling special effects. I had to go back and watch the earlier movies such as Iron Man and Thor to get caught up in the MCU. Let's just say, I was hooked.
It wasn't until my 40's that I started to dig into the comics that served as the source material for these entertaining movies. I was actually surprised to find these comics supplied intricate story lines with incredible artwork. It all made sense to me why these movies were so captivating, because they were born from great source material. It was also interesting to see what parts of the original comic book stories served as inspiration for the movies, and where they had made changes. Here are a few of my favorite comics that I recommend reading if you haven't already.
The Long Halloween
Wolverine by Claremont & Miller
Old Man Logan
The Man Without Fear
These are just a few of my favorites that happen to also be stories about some of my favorite superheroes. I still have a lot more comics to read and I look forward to finding new favorites involving other characters.
I'm not a DC or Marvel person, I like them all. I could never choose just one. I appreciate good story telling, especially the ones involving superheroes. There is a reason that the story of the hero's journey has been around for centuries, I think we as humans like to hear stories of adventure, transformation, overcoming adversity and vanquishing evil.
The complicated superheroes are the ones that interest me the most. The heroes that have insecurities, inner conflicts, and character flaws are the most relatable to me. I am far from perfect, and seeing someone deal with those same things, and yet they are still able to help others is inspiring. Maybe the reason why I like superheroes so much is that they remind me to be brave and have courage. I spent my adolescence dealing with social anxiety. When I entered middle school, I was small, frail, and often sick. I got made fun of by other kids, a lot. I worried about what other people would think of me. I gave too much value to other people's opinions. I still battle social anxiety to this day, but I have better control over it. I find myself connecting with Captain America the most at this moment. Maybe it's because I made a transformation of my own. No, I'm not a super soldier, but I went from a scared, frail child to a strong, healthy adult with a better ability to cope with stress.
Here are a few ways we can be more brave that appeared in an article titled, 50 Ways You Can Be Brave Today by Barbara Markway, Ph.D. on PsychologyToday.com
Allow yourself to feel what you're feeling
Let go of people who continuously let you down
Share your thoughts
Share your opinions
Risk being wrong
Try something for the first time
Trust your instincts
Tolerate discomfort (bravery doesn't always feel good)
Make a mistake
Follow your heart
Say "I don't know."
Ask for help
Share your vulnerability
Face your problems
Trust your ideas, even the crazy ones
Stand up for someone who is being picked on
Leave an abusive relationship
Stand up to any kind of prejudice
Say no to things you don't want
Say yes to things you want
Wear something ridiculous just because you like it
Be the first person to reach out after a conflict
Let go of your need to control everything
Embrace your weirdness
Don't react to criticism
I have mentioned it several times that the Uncanny Superhero Training Program was created after watching one of my favorite Marvel movies, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I contemplated what it would take to become a superhero here in the real world. I've been told that the superhero theme is childish and I've had my share of critics. I don't care about those opinions because I already know that the program will not be for everyone, but I also know there are some people out there who will connect with it. One thing I do know for sure, everyone can benefit from becoming stronger, having more endurance, being more agile, acquiring self defense skills, and improving their health.
Comedian Bill Maher made headlines recently. He thinks superhero culture is childish and stupid. He thinks it's contributed to the the downfall of society, and that we're waiting around for some superheroes to save us instead of dealing with the relevant issues of society ourselves. I'll have to disagree with Mr. Maher. I see superheroes as a beacon of hope in uncertain times, a reminder to be brave and to help others. We all have our own special abilities to contribute to society. I say, "Let's not wait around for superheroes to save us, let's become our own superheroes and save the world ourselves."
If you've found interest in this blog post, you might like my new podcast about superheroes, fitness, and martial arts that you can check out here. If you're ready to become the superhero you're destined to be, contact me and we can talk about your training program. I am also offering the Uncanny Superhero Handbook for free to anyone who's interested.