When my brother was a young kid, he loved superheroes. Seriously, he had DVDs of Batman, Spiderman, you name it and it was his. I'm pretty sure they were his favourite thing of all time. And it's easy to see why - kids love to be inspired by these things, to become something that they're not and impress everybody. But as I grew older, I started realising that there is more to why superheroes are so loved than what a child's perception is.
Every superhero is an outcast, even if it's not directly obvious. They stick out like a sore thumb, and nobody wants to be friends with them. This is an obvious trait in Steve Rogers, aka Captain America. He is small and scrawny unlike the rest of the men around him who are joining the army, and is desperate to belong. Take Peter Parker, aka Spiderman. He's the nerd. Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. The genius billionaire who thinks on a wavelength above normal humans. Even before they become superheroes, they're different. But when they find their alter egos, they become something amazing.
We can identify with these characters - at some point in our lives, we have all been outcasts. As we grow up, we're not entirely sure of our place in the world yet, what life has to offer us. Perhaps we have been rejected by friendship groups; from school because of poor grades, from families because of neglect. Either way we have all suffered rejection in some form - and as a result, we can identify these superheroes. One day we want to burst out of our 'normal' cocoons to reveal somebody shimmering, somebody amazing underneath - our own superhero. However, despite being admired by people all around the world, our favourite characters are, beneath the surface, incredibly lonely, and wander from villain to villain, doing what's right in the hope that somebody will notice them for the first time in their lives, and appreciate who they really are. It is a fairy tale in one of its darkest forms, sometimes without justice. Not every superhero gets the happy ending they perhaps deserve. Just look at Batman. His story is easily one of the most powerful.
This is what makes a film such as The Avengers so powerful. Wanderers are brought together, outcasts forced to work as a team. As I watched it, I couldn't help but realise - these people weren't used to working together. You can feel just how nervous and terrified they all are, even if they try to hide it with jokes, aggression, adrenaline. What if they aren't accepted by even those who aren't accepted themselves? What's left for them then? It's a difficult struggle for them to work together - and even when they do begin to find chemistry between each of them, there's a slight, emotionless edge to it, as if they're too afraid to fully commit yet. Eventually, however, they do, but it's not long before they part again. Which shows just how alike we outcasts really are to them. We appreciate our alone time. It's difficult for us to be in a group together after so long working alone, after so much torment. But it's possible.
If they can find happiness, even in the most unlikely of places, so can we. And that's why everybody needs a superhero.