Recently, my husband and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises. I love the Batman movies, just like I love most superhero movies. In fact, we went to see the new Spiderman recently too, and we'll go see the new Superman movie when it comes out.
But it got me thinking about how long these characters have been around. My question is, as much as I love the old superheroes, why do we keep rehashing them? Why can't we come up with something new? Or when we do come up with something new, why don't they stick?
I know a lot of this has to do with profitability. Moviemakers know that Batman, Spiderman, X-Men, Hulk, Avengers have really good track records, so it's a safe bet. Which is true (see above re: I've going to see all of them) and smart of them. But on a more philosophical level, almost all superheroes were created in the 1930s and 1940s, and were born of the political situations, ideology, and society of the time. That's part of the reason why most of them are male, white, and often fight for capitalism and against the kind of tyranny that was a threat back then.
Modern writers update these superheroes by giving them modern technology and new foes and lairs and trying to awkwardly throw a few "strong women" in the mix, but at the core these are still heroes that were created for a different time and a different world. Some writers have tried to put a spin on superheroes with Watchmen (which don't get me wrong, I think is brilliant), Handcock, Chronicle. But these are spins on the traditional superhero tropes, not really new ways of thinking of them. Why haven't a wide new crop of truly modern superhero stories popped up to compete with these old favorites?
One modern superhero that does come to mind is Neo from the Matrix. He's not just given modern technology--his existence and mission are intrinsically tied up in it. He's moral, but not necessarily in the traditional 1950s sense--in fact, he starts off as a computer hacker. And his enemies aren't just whatever the closest WWII or Cold War enemy equivalent today is, it's something truly modern: a technological enemy, an enemy within our own minds.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Any other truly modern superheroes I'm overlooking?