Wednesday, July 22, 2015

On "Gritty Realism" in Superhero Movies

I don't watch movies because they're realistic. I watch them because they're not reality.

I don't read books because they're realistic. I read them because they're not reality.

So why, oh why, is the current craze in Hollywood "gritty realism" when it come to things like superheroes? (Looking at you, DC.) I can understand stories that are supposed to take place in our world being gritty, or apocalyptic movies, or horror movies, or whatever else, but superheroes?

Look, maybe I'm not the right person to be talking about this. Maybe I'm biased.

It was, after all, superheroes that saved my life.

At a time in my life when I was struggling with depression before I truly understood what that meant, I discovered a community of people who loved superhero cartoons, who would spend hours with me in chat rooms as we gushed over every little detail of a hero's backstory. One of those friends would go on to become a pen pal who I credit with keeping me sane and keeping me from sinking into the pits of wanting to end it all. 

So maybe I'm biased. Maybe I don't want the very characters that gave me hope to be tarnished by reality. That was what saved me, after all: they were very much not reality. They were the reality I wanted to work for.

That's the thing, I think. I don't want gritty realism because I want hope. I don't want Superman to kill anybody, because that makes him not Superman. I don't want to leave the movie theater drowning in an existential crisis. I want to leave feeling that I can do anything and that one day I might make a difference the way these heroes do, just in my own, less superheroic way.

I don't know. Maybe I'm old-fashioned. Maybe I'm biased.

But I just kind of think that it's much better and healthier to have heroes than to tear them down to make them more like us instead.

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