There is a problem here in America. Our children have no superheroes. Long gone are the days of campy comic books, boy scout Superman films and tongue in cheek camp from Adam West and Burt Ward. Today’s superhero has to be conflicted, strong and of our world.
It wasn’t too long ago that American society rejected the dark and conflicted superhero. Tim Burton’s “Batman Returns” was so abhorred by parents that Warner Bros., the toy companies and McDonalds all cried foul and insisted they did not know the film was going to be so “dark” and realistic. Yet, today, parents don’t think twice about taking a five year old to see the PG-13 “The Avengers” or “The Dark Knight Rises”, and those films are applauded for their darkness and realism.
“Superman”, starring Christopher Reeves was such a huge success because it made Superman accessible to all generations. The kids could look up to his boy scout image and be inspired to do good things for truth, justice and the American way. Parents could identify with the love story and the tale of the ultimate immigrant coming to America.
Something happened along the way to present day. The kids grew up. And with that, a desire to see their superheroes grow up, too. “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” all had prominent display shelves at the toy stores for kids of all ages. A less-informed parent who sees the toys and remembers Batman from his Adam West or even Joel Schumacher days would assume that the movie is just that – kid stuff. Unfortunately, “The Dark Knight Rises” is nowhere near safe for kids, and “The Avengers” (for all the toys they have you would think it is a G Rated film) has copious amounts of violence and the cast is filled with characters who all take themselves way too seriously.
The now 20-somethings love this stuff. Their childhood superheroes are now hardcore and based in reality. It makes the experience so much more real. Any attempt at toning down a superhero movie for children is considered lame, not epic enough, or stupid kid stuff. Except, these fans are forgetting something. It is a crucial piece in the puzzle to the longevity of superheroes. Without a proper role model superhero like Christopher Reeves’ Superman, or a campy version of Batman every now and then, kids will not get to see superheroes on the big screen or the comics, and they will slowly fade from existence.
Now that the realistic and gritty superheroes have had their moment to shine, the children need someone to look up to in our current times. Let the children have their heroes back.