Got it? Who is it? Why? Is it Superman or Thor, who wield powers we wish we could? Is it Iron Man or Batman, whose powers are all hard ware and combat training? Do you like the bad boys, the pure ones, the arrogant ones, the crazy ones? What is it about these people that draw you to them?
In the age of super heroes wielding powers or high tech equipment, we get force fed an idea what a hero is. "Defender of the weak, protector of the innocent, and all around good guy." A nice sentiment, and more than enough to strive for. But too many of them are high on flash and flaw.
When I think of a hero, I think of Michael Landsberry. Forgot him already? Don't know him? I'm not surprised. He's not the type of guy you find on a comic book. He's the teacher that was killed during the shooting at a Nevada school a couple weeks ago. A man who stood in the line of fire and bought time for the students to get to safety. He tried to end the shooting completely, but his efforts saved lives.
Where is that in our modern media? Where are the people who serve the people, put their lives on the line, and don't take anything else for it? Instead we get knights in shinning armor, or tight Lycra suits, or sometimes not much at all. They're all hunks, or "hot" girls, or dashing princes, and I've yet to meet one that didn't have more flaws than a fake diamond.
"You have to make the hero real, or the audience won't believe it." That's what writing teachers always told me. To a point they're right. Make them too perfect, and you get a saint no one can relate to. But the latest Iron Man is arrogant and full of himself, Thor is high on pride and low on forethought, recent Spider Man has him not really learning the lessons that get thrown at him the hard way until things are near disaster, for him or the city.
I asked you who your favorite is. Mine, as of recent movies, is Captain America. Here's a kid who just wanted to serve his country in the army. He was too young, and according to many, too scrony to serve. Then he gets picked as a candidate for the super soldier program. He outshines the jocks in the good ways. Out thinking, more dedicated, and when a fake grenade is tossed, they dive away while he dives on. At first, after he gets his "super powers", he's taken on tour to sell war bonds. That all changes when he's on a USO tour. A band of soldiers needs rescuing, but the commanders refuse to risk it. He goes in on his own anyway, and he saves them all. His heroics continue, and he leads a very successful career full of well done missions and deeds.
All the while, when people ask him what's so special, what's his response? One that he very clearly believes.
"Nothin'. I'm just a kid from Brooklyn."
I bet Michael Landsberry would have said the same thing. A shame so many comic book heroes wouldn't.
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