This essay hence seeks to argue that superhero characters can be considered a form of modern mythology because their characteristics are very influenced by both biblical and ancient myths. In addition to this, superheroes and myths share a similar purpose in their creation and what they represent to people.
Superheroes are a form of modern mythology, because though they were created in the modern period, they possessed very messianic like characteristics and conformed to what scholars termed as biblical myths, such as Jesus. For example, just as Jesus was seen to be a savior and messiah of his times, Superman was also termed to be the mythical archetype of Messiah. (Should footnote here) Similar to Jesus being sent from the heavens to rescue mankind from evil, Superman was also depicted to come from another planet to earth to save the people from evil and monsters. Superman is seen as a secular mythical hero that acts as a moral compass for the current generation. Joseph Campbell also supports how Superman is similar to biblical mythology. When comparing superheroes to Jesus, he asked the readers to focus on the pattern of Jesus life and not his teaching, placing great emphasis on the rebirth or the return of a superhero’s journey. He states how a superhero’s journey was similar to Jesus’s life on earth. Jesus, for example, sacrificed his life to die for the world but resurrected from the dead within three days. In a very similar way , Superman ultimately sacrificed his life to save the world from Doomsday, but he managed to resurrect from the dead again, proving that even death could not stop him from fighting. Hence, it can be seen how superheroes like Superman contain the same characteristics and themes found in biblical mythology. Both emphasizes on the themes of heroism and sacrifice for the people. In addition, superheroes like Superman seem to draw their influence from biblical figures like Jesus, in the form of his origin, death and resurrection and acting as a messiah for his generation. Hence, superheroes are a form of modern mythology because the storyline and their characteristics conform a lot to the themes and personalities contained in myths, especially biblical ones.
Superheroes also have very similar characteristics to Greek mythology and both Greek mythological heroes and superheroes espoused similar themes, being created with the same purposes for the people. Similar to Greek mythical heroes like Hercules and Thor, Superman was born of divinity (from another world) but also belonged to the human world. In addition, both of them, being born of two sources, still used their powers for the common good. The supernatural abilities and weapons of superheroes were also similar to those used in war in Greek mythology. For example, Hawkeye, like Artemis and Apollon, used archery skills for combat. Hence, it can be seen that superheroes draw their skills and origins from ancient mythical heroes.
Not only so, both myths and superheroes were created with the same purpose. Ancient myths were created to allow humans to have models for human behavior and were used to explain the events around them. Similarly, superheroes like Superman and Wonder Woman are still heroes many think of as encompassing the ideal human virtues. This is because they always display the themes of heroism and selflessness in their actions. In addition, they too represent human ambitions. During WWII, Superman and Batman were depicted to be participating in the war actively. Both of them supported America and reinforced the message of needing to protect America from its opponents. The superheroes hence not only encouraged the soldiers to fight in the war, but also gave the Americans hope that the war would be won.
Furthermore, just like folktales, fairy tales and ancient myths say something about the culture from whence they spring, superheroes are part of a unique American mythology. Superheroes revealed the American popular culture and its ideals. They represented the aspirations and optimism that the Americans had toward the future. Superman, for example, was seen fighting for ‘truth, justice, and the American way’, and this revealed that Superman represented the nationalistic pride of the Americans and their desire to adhere to liberty and achieve happiness. Hence, superheroes should be seen as just a modern reinvention of the major hero myths that have existed many years before superheroes were created. They are simply a modern resurfacing of the mythological hero, mythical heroes we have created in our time to explain the current events in society and demonstrate our ideals and who we aspire to become.
In conclusion, superheroes should be seen as a form of modern mythology. This is because their characteristics and their journey often correspond to biblical myths, showing that superheroes are influenced by them. In addition, superheroes characteristics, origins and even weapons draw influence from several Greek mythological characters. Furthermore, the goal of the creation of superheroes are identical to why ancient myths were also created. Just as ancient myths represented the culture and ideals of their society, superheroes also reflect our current aspirations and ideals, and are an important part of our culture. Therefore, superheroes should be seen as simply the modern reinterpretation and reincarnation of ancient mythical stories and heroes.