There was a time where superheroes were upstanding characters who fought bad guys and protected the innocent. When the 80’s hit, comics had a resurgence when writers like Frank Miller and Alan Moore put a unique spin on the genre and gave us darker, grittier heroes.
While those works are still cited as classics, the effect it had on the industry may have been for the worse. Now, writers think that blood, gore, and extreme violence are the makings of a great superhero story. Yes, there is violence via punching etc, but it’s hit new levels in recent years.
Now, every hero has to be emotionally disturbed and brooding for readers to take them seriously. Even iconic symbol heroes like Superman and Captain America are seen as outdated or non-realistic for their commitment to do the right thing. Heck, some people mock that trait, calling them “goody-goodies” or some other similar nickname.
Deconstruction may have been a novel idea, but it’s been done and no one seems to want to reconstruct the superhero. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that the deconstructed version is now the standard.
Apparently, you’re not really a superhero unless you’re power hungry, sadistic, or riddled with emotional issues. Forget all that stuff about altruism and nobility, or fighting the good fight against those who would do evil, you need to bask in moral ambiguity and blur the lines as opposed to acting as a force that stands clear on one side.
Even the well intentioned heroes are shown to be ineffectual or hapless. Kick-ass is a prime example. One of the things I liked was that the kid only wanted to go out and help people, but they went out of their way to say that that mindset is useless in a “realistic” environment. Also, look at G’nort, a supporting Green Lantern character who is something of a running joke.
G’nort’s makes a sincere effort to be a genuine hero. He wants to help people and live up to the honor of the Corps that he serves. This is undercut by the fact that he’s an idiot who can barely operate his ring. He becomes sort of a butt monkey character as nobody seems to like him very much, which I find odd considering he seems amicable enough, but I digress.
Superheroes are supposed to represent the triumph of good over evil. They’re supposed to inspire us to be better people and to live up to certain ideals. It kind of undercuts that idea when every hero is a psychopath who comes off as just as insane as the supervillain they’re battling.
It works in small doses, but when every hero utilizes the same tropes, it becomes redundant and robs the genre of its flavor.
That’s not to say that dark, brooding superheroes don’t have their place, but you need the brighter superheroes to act as a counterbalance. Deconstruction is fine, utter demolition is not.