Why superhero’s don’t die by a thousand paper cuts

The “supergroup superhero movie” has emerged as Hollywood’s go-to moneymaker in the last decade with box office sensations like “The Avengers Endgame” grossing around $2.8 billion in 2019. Studios are snatching up rights to DC & Marvel characters and plotlines and show no signs of dieting this cash cow.

But what makes these supergroup superhero movies so attractive to mass audiences?

Could it be that the studios have introduced failure into the ‘hero’s journey’ for previously unbeatable characters? Here are three reasons why the supergroup has become so attractive…and profitable.

  1. The introduction of failure — a movie about a 1 superhero is going to end with that 1 superhero being triumphant. Nobody wants to watch a loser. With more characters there are opportunities to weave together a more complex plot instead of everyone just waiting for the protagonist to win.
  2. More opportunities for audiences to identify with diverse protagonists — more people can get involved and feel connected to the hero’s journey. Not everyone wants to be superman. This expands the mass market appeal of those watching the film.
  3. Greater opportunity for an emotional journey — characters can have more complex relationships between one another that play on their strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s focus on #3, the emotional journey.

Whenever these words are uttered, it’s last resort (otherwise why would one say them?). The superhero movies are full of these moments of taking characters and audiences to these breaking points only to have another character swoop in and save the day which launches the audience’s emotional rollercoaster on high.

(If one character was doing that all the time, the movie would rapidly lose appeal as the audience is desensitized)

The three words hardest to say for many people (especially guys), is “I need help.” Insert any combination of words here, “I’m not enough,” “I failed,” “I let you down.” “I’m cannot” — all of these statements say the same thing and cut deep to a core masculine sources of worth and worthiness: an ability to generate value.

And most of the time when these words need to be uttered, it’s not due to a crushing fist of Theranos where yea, it’s pretty obvious that now help is necessary and there isn’t shame in it due to the excessive fanfare.

In ever day life though, it’s more like death from a thousand paper cuts.

The breaking point isn’t clear, there rarely is an audience or thousands of people working on crafting the life’s journey…usually it’s just the day-to-day decisions that someone makes.

Asking for help or admitting a desire for help in real life is hard. Was the most recent let down at the office the last straw? Was that last mean snap as much as one can take? Is that the last look of disappointment ever to seen again? Death by a thousand paper cuts.

All to many of us die slowly by these paper cuts: maybe help has been sought and isn’t working, maybe nobody is aware help is needed. Either way, nobody is expected to figure out how to react to life’s paper cuts alone.

That’s what everyone’s supergroup is for, someone to swoop in and use their powers when a teammate falling.

But before a daily life superhero can be saved, one often must ask.

We must ask for help because often times we don’t realize that everyone else in our supergroup is fighting their own battles, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come and help…who knows, maybe they are just want is needed.


….free & anonymous mental health support, democratize feeling alright: www.avalo.app.

Ironman, Superman, Batman, Spiderman, depression, suicide, anxiety, stress, bipolar

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