I saw part of one of these superhero things while I was up visiting my son. I must admit I might have missed the bit where it might catch my attention and interest me, so to be fair, it was a fleeting impression, before I retired to work on the current book. It’s also fair to say I was never a big fan of superhero comics, so I could well be missing the point, but what I saw was a weakness I have found in many of the newer generation fantasy. The hero (and the bad guy) seemed to fighting about which one was the top dog. The collateral damage were just ordinary people and collateral damage. The hero’s save was special and beautiful and important.
It’s a theme which recurs a lot in mythology. Gods fighting other gods, and they’re all assholes, really. And ordinary Jim and Jill are often kind of barely mentioned cannon fodder. Mythology, one suspects was often as not derived from the nobility of the time and mirrors their attitudes and behavior (rather than the other way around.). Given the endless infidelity of say Odin or Zeus not to mention various goddesses and some of the other charming behavior – possibly quite socially acceptable at the time place, I have to be glad I wasn’t around then.
Now let’s be realistic. A lot of humans seem to like being under the rule (usually not actually benign) of their upper class, and like to follow slavishly, imitating (the sincerest form of flattery, after all) and role modelling on various celebrities – whose personal lives tend to make Greek gods seem relatively prudish, and whose loud pontifications on matter social and political are usually on the dim edge of dim, even if their own lives were not a slow-motion train wreck. I don’t get it, but plainly they do. So: there is a market for ‘heroes’ like that in the book (and movie world).
Personally I’d rather watch a sheep race. It was a novelty, but I think more than one every few years would spoil me. The curious thing about it was the hero involved — the guy un-noticed and unnamed who who was looking after his kids (his wife was not well) drafting the sheep into the ‘stalls’ and… looking after a load of other matters, from soothing hurt knees to feeding bottomless pits, and, yep, helping to raise quite a lot of money for a charity. Not a fashionable one, just one that actually helped ordinary people. A man who worked hard all his life, with some swats from the harsh world of making a living as a farmer, and whose life was centered his family and his land. He was real Sam Gamgee type of hero, likeable, dependable, with no particular idea that he WAS a hero (he certainly was at least in the eyes of son and daughters). No superpowers (beyond those that good parents display -which is pretty special too), no position in the hierarchy entitling him to power. His opinion when he gave it was his own, and worth listening to, but I doubt if many did. The sheep didn’t.
A hero that I’d dearly like to have around when things got tough. A hero I’d love to read about. If you write that book, I’m buying it.