The Superheroes in Us

At this year’s World Domination Summit (which I’ve still yet to actually attend, but someday), Chris Brogan said “When we look up to superheroes, it’s because there are aspects of us that we see in them that we want to bring out in ourselves.”

Batgirl Wonder Woman & Supergirl

I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I think that’s true of any successful, powerful character we see on the big screen (or our personal television screen, laptop, tablet, whatever). The “superheroes” we see in the movies need to be reflections of us, as complex and flawed as we are, or else you lose the connection to them and to the movie itself.

All too often, this point is missed in the development of powerful female “superhero” characters. They lack the depth, vulnerability, and will to overcome that which we real-life women experience everyday.

But what can better motivate a character and create drama and add suspense than giving that character great obstacles both externally and internally.

It’s been uplifting to see improvement in the development and depth of strong male characters in film. They are starting to realize that a man’s character doesn’t have to be all brawn and no brains or suffering from inner demons. But we’ve yet to see it embraced in the leading female form.

And quite frankly, I’m getting tired of it.

It’s always more of the same. She’s the scantily-clad trained assassin who never loses, until she falls in love. Or the scantily-clad spoiled damsel in distress who suddenly becomes an amazing fighter who takes down everyone. Or the scantily-clad mysterious enchantress with magical powers which you have no idea how she got, who always seems to know the right thing to do. Or she’s the scantily-clad girlfriend, or best friend, or reluctant sidekick bookworm (librarian fantasy anyone?). And we haven’t even begun to talk about the scantily-clad femme fatale.

Are you tired of these same old tropes?

If we can’t see ourselves in the heroes portrayed in media, how can we know what we can become? How are we to aspire to anything greater? How can we have the courage to work through our own pain and overcome our own demons to achieve greatness?

And on the flipside: If we can do the work and embrace the presence of flaws and kryptonite within ourselves, then why can’t we embrace it in the fictional characters that are supposed to connect with us on screen?

Movies and TV shows should be a reflection of real life, no matter how far-fetched or fantastical the plot. Even the most outlandish stories can resonate the deepest because they reflect truths we see within ourselves and the world around us.

So it’s about time we saw that reflected in some stronger, more complex female superheroes. Wouldn’t you say?


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