For every hero there seems to be an equally strong villain to balance out the amount of good vs evil. In almost every story, whether the hero appears first or the villain appears first, not to long after the counterpart comes to fruition. If one or the other is killed or put away, they are either broken out or a new character takes their place, sometimes stronger. Interestingly enough some heroes and villains also have pretty similar backstories, they just took different paths and turned out opposite of each other. It’s almost as if they could have been friends in another life had they both stayed on the same path together. Some even start off as childhood friends and then something traumatic happens that tears them apart from one another. Comic book super heroes and villains tend to have many variations of their origin stories depending on the “reboot” or what a TV series, film, or a video game is trying to achieve. So a good example of super hero and villain backstories that are quite similar can be taken from a manga (Japanese comic book) called Naruto. In this manga the main character’s parents are killed right after he is born, so he grows up alone and as an outcast, but eventually manages to make friends and is accepted by society after constantly saving people and never giving up and always trying his hardest. His counterpart is Sasuke whom starts off as Naruto’s rival/friend, yet turns into a villain. He, like Naruto grows up with no parents or family, they were murdered as well, although he was around 6 when they were killed, but instead of accepting and forgiving the murderer he sets out on a quest for vengeance that turns him into a villain. Both were put in similar situations and throughout the story seem to always have a respect for one another and a friendship, but took 2 different paths and turned out opposite of one another.
Heroes have been around for centuries and come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. Some may think when approaching Super Heroes from comic books that most are Caucasian males, and this may be true to an extent, but there are more than just those heroes. Every culture has heroes that they look up to, whether they are fictional or not. These heroes represent the people who create them, whether it is one person or an entire culture. Heroes are representative of the belief in good that those people have. If a person were to go to India, the heroes will be representative of Indian culture. They will more than likely be Indian and be capable of blending in to that culture. The same is likely to happen in Japan, or China or any other country or culture someone was to visit. The creation of fictional heroes is a realization of the creator’s ideals of what a truly good, moral, and just individual should look and act like. So if people were to go around and say the creators of super heroes in comics are racist or sexist, maybe they should take into consideration where the creators are getting their inspiration from; maybe they are creating characters based on their real life heroes such as their fathers. Batman, an extremely popular and well known super hero, was inspired by Sherlock Holmes, Zorro and Leonardo Da Vinci. The creation of Superman was influenced by Douglas Fairbanks, Harold Lloyd, Clark Gable, and Kent Taylor, “Clark Kent.” All of these inspirations for both super heroes were very big and well known in the United States during the time these characters were created. So it goes to show that people pull inspiration from around them to create what they believe will epitomize their ideals of what a hero should be.
The solitary hero is used in many comics and stories. Almost every good hero in a comic is a solitary one. They have to distance themselves from their friends and family and the ones they love in order to protect them. Even with having an alter ego, there is still a tendency to distance themselves and not let their alter form have a family or fall in love, because if they were to get close being in alter form and their enemies were to find out who they really were it would put their loved ones in danger.
Looking at Spider-man, or Peter Parker, for instance; to begin with his family is very small consisting of just him and his aunt. Adding his friends in to the mix, he only has maybe one or two, which he keeps at a distance. Once Peter Parker truly accepts being Spider-man he distances himself from everyone in order to try and protect them. He also tries to hide his superhero identity, in doing so he must lie to those he loves most constantly.
Spider-man is just one example though; there are many superheroes that follow this same path. In fact it’s very rare for a superhero to let their true identity be known, and although some may have a “team” the hero is the only one really going through any trials alone. Even looking at Katniss in The Hunger Game, she may not be a “super hero” but she is still a hero and she is goes through her trails alone, although she doesn’t really have/or need a secret identity. Although when most think of a solitary hero it is much easier to automatically think of Spider-man, Batman or Superman, but there are other heroes out there that follow much of the same path that comic book heroes follow.
Does the hero’s journey reflect real life? Inspire real life? Or Both?
The Hero’s Journey has been used in story telling throughout history and continues to be used today. It has not only inspired people through the ages but is inspired by humanity as well. Although it may be more difficult to see, the Hero’s Journey is something that everyone faces during their lives and it’s inevitable. A person will always go through some type of Hero’s Journey at some point in time in their life.
After viewing Joseph Campbell and The Power of Myth: The Hero’s Journey, so much was made clear. It seems like the Hero’s Journey is very psychologically based. He mentions how everyone faces their own Hero’s Journey throughout life. Every major change is a kind of journey that is taken. The one that Campbell mentions is the change from childhood to young adulthood. “When a person grows there is a death of the childhood […] and rebirth of adulthood” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSWcIcOcDvU). He is focusing more on the death of the psychological dependency that children have and the rebirth of psychological independence. It seems very Freudian and Erickson based.
He also mentions that there are 3 kinds of journeys. There is the conscious journey which would be something like the pursuit of a job, or education. The subconscious journey, which is psychological, and the pitched journey, which would be a military draft (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSWcIcOcDvU). Most of these adventures are something that people can deal with in everyday life, and the majority of people may not consider these actual Hero’s Journeys because they are event that are faced so often and don’t seem very adventurous.
The Hero’s Journey can also inspire real life. Many people view these journeys that are depicted in movies and stories and wish that they are possible in real life. Although the chances of these adventures coming to life are miniscule, witnessing what the hero goes through and that they still pursue their goal, and eventually achieve it, no matter what happens can be very inspiring. People can look at their own lives and the hardships they may currently be going through and see that it really isn’t that bad. All they need to do is work hard and not give up and eventually they can achieve their goal.