Superhero Characters: a Modern Mythology

Published: 2022-03-03
Superhero Characters: a Modern Mythology
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Culture Entertainment Mythology
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 885 words
8 min read

Dr. Michael Uslan is a Professor of practice based at the Indian University Media Institution. He has produced several award-winning movies such as Dawn of Justice, Batman vs. Superman, The Lego Movie amongst others. In his discussion on the modern mythology, he claims that superhero characters are modern mythology. According to Michael, the current superheroes today are modern America folklore, in that, they are contemporary mythology. For instance, as a contemporary myth, Superman is presented as the person who fights for the "truth and justice" in the American way. This alludes that he stands for what is socially acceptable or the right thing to do as a superhero. However, the issue of superheroes being modern myths can best be understood as an interpretive discussion (Browne, 1996). Therefore, this work will seek to extend our knowledge that superheroes are not modern myths in any practical sense based on the cultural roles that myths serve.

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Notably, it is essential to understand the concept of Michael on his stand that superheroes are modern mythology. The first edition of Superman was published at a time when the US was concerned about the isolationist policy, and it did not want to get involved in the World War II. Therefore, the superhero's task was to stop weapons manufacturer from drawing America into the war. As a consequence, Superman is portrayed as an exemplum of American's policy of truth and justice although contemporary perspectives challenge this notion with an entirely different perspective of what it actually meant.

In light with the story of Superman, it is essential to note that superheroes have extensive antiquity. They experienced several incarnations, and parallel worlds and many authors have already articulated their tales about them (Klein, 2012). However, all these stories about Superman are seen to be the same character lacking an original version. For that reason, the point about superheroes being modern mythology can be termed as a mere fiction backed up by analytical thinking. Subsequently, the modern myth functions not only a vulgarization, taking statements out of their perspectives, but it also "naturalizes" the importance of the myth. This can be attained by intellectualizing it from time and place, and this will without a doubt make the myth sound "real." However, when the contexts, intentions, and the discourse's agents are disremembered, the contemporary myth becomes natural, disinterested, and very common.

Myths provide an understanding of the world of people. The reputation of myths and the manner in which they are still studied today depicts very strongly that myths are more than just tales and that they have a significant purpose in the modern world just as they were important during the old times (Klein, 2012). They can be spiritually oriented and provides intuition to daily living. In most instances, Myths try to respond to eternal issues such as the derivation of the existence of evil as well as guiding every generation through its archetypes. Therefore, myths inform and instruct the people on how to live good lives through the tales they narrate.

Nonetheless, superheroes might inform people's lives with moralistic intelligence, such as Spider Man's advice that, "with great power comes great responsibility." Conversely, the ethics they convey are not in line with the superhero genre. Moreover, beyond a system of beliefs, myths also provided detailed information about different ancient beliefs and customs where the tales started as oral traditions, and they were only written down lately. Myths should develop a memorization system about a specific culture and record it so that the knowledge is passed on.

Superheroes may be viewed as a genre with fictional images of our traditions. Although, referring superheroes as "myths" suggest that they are just mere stories of fantastical nature. Individuals have in most scenarios emphasized how modern tales adheres to the same structures as myths such as the "Spiderman," on the contrary, this only implies that these modern narratives are derived from the same "raw material" as myths. This does not make them myths in any practical way. Both literature and myth contrast to a level that they can influence person's lives. It is also essential to note that, it is indeed true that myths are just tales, although the cultural context of their application makes the dissimilarity in what extricates them. Therefore, associating superheroes with modern mythology disparages the belief systems and traditions of individuals whose lives are or were infused with mythology.

To sum up, it is clear that humanity's most essential nature is that they are social beings who love narrating stories. Myths are the paths to human indulgent, and the myth-making processes can be viewed as the path to self-expansion and human expansion. In other words, myths help us to understand the reality, and they are the dreams of the universe. However, when myths are viewed under the lens of practical functions performed by the myths in the cultural system, modern superhero's stories do not meet any of the same kind of roles. Superheroes should just be understood as the literary genre that reflects the culture we currently live in, instead of needlessly trying to legitimize it through unattested comparison with myths.


Browne, R. (1996). Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology (Book). Journal of Popular Culture, 30(2), 221-222.

Klein, M. J. (2012). Modern Myths: Science Fiction in the Age of Technology. At The Interface / Probing The Boundaries, 85255-279.

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