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Jose Maria

Sanchez Galera

Our Time Magazine

Victoria Hernández believes that “the superhero is a hero with all the shortcomings that postmodern man entails, a hero immersed in the individualism and nihilism of the big city, sheltered behind hyper-technology.”

In this sense, Batman (a man with no more power than his fortune, his disguise, his gadgets and a hidden resentment) and Superman (a superpowered human alien) are a reflection of our rootless, post-Christian age. They would be classic heroes with the features of our days. Batmanwho even has a squire (Robin, the Boy Wonder), lives a dark torment for having witnessed the murder of his parents as a child.

Superman mourns the death of his putative father and suffers the pain of his friends; his heart is not made of steel, but of our very flesh. On the one hand, as Victoria Hernández comments: “The ultimate goal of these superheroes seems to be similar to that of the classic heroes: the common good, defeating evil with good, and defending truth and beauty.”

The Jedi is a mixture of a samurai, a monk and a Christian medieval knight.

On the other hand, the defects as heroes that we can attribute to Peter Parker or Clark Kent are, in reality, our defects as a dehumanized and postmodern civilization. They are a fairground mirror in which to look at ourselves, coming out of a factory called the publishing industry.

Precisely the fact that they are a commercial product can diminish their heroic category, and turn them into a mere ephemeral article of consumption or propaganda. Just like ourselves, eager to likes Y followers. In García Gual’s opinion, superheroes “are much more stiff and one-dimensional than the old ones; they undoubtedly reflect a nostalgia for the heroic, but already in a superficial and apocalyptic fantasy way; creations of easy-to-consume literature and colors, are a good reflection of the fun that entertains mass culture”.

This ability of the hero to acquire new masks, according to times and places, is evident in galactic sagas, such as dunes either StarWars. The Jedi is a mixture of a samurai, a monk and a Christian medieval knight (a kind of Templar); to which must be added all the substance that Alec Guinness brought to his character, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Old Kenobi, when explaining to young Luke Skywalker what the Force is all about, seems to be paraphrasing the Personal Notes of Marcus Aurelius, Philosopher Emperor whom Guinness had played in The Fall of the Roman Empire (Anthony Mann, 1964). When Guinness read the script that George Lucas had passed on to him, he gave his Jedi depth by giving it an air of character from Tolkien.

The universality of the hero prevents him from being an activist or a messenger of totalitarianism. The hero recognizes the humanity that he shares with his rival. And few things are more humane than paying tribute to the fallen of the enemy, admiring the qualities and gallantry of the general we have defeated or who has defeated us.

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