The Flaws of Heroes

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I’ve noticed in these few weeks after “Civil War” came out that there are people who have complained about the movie making Captain America do stupid, flawed things in his quest to protect Bucky. I’m not sure if these were legitimate complaints or trolling (though both seem likely). However, it got me thinking about how I’ve seen superheroes depicted in media (mainly movies) and how baffling this complaint is to me. Yes, Cap is a paragon of truth, justice and the American way, but have people forgotten a fundamental aspect of the character? Namely, that he’s a human being?

It’s not just Cap either. Superman has also gotten his fair share of criticism for either being too much of a Boy Scout or not enough of one. But why would you WANT superheroes to act like nothing but goody two-shoes? Characters who come off perfect are boring and borderline Mary Sue/Gary Stu-ish. Flaws are what keep a character interesting and relatable to the audience. To go back to Cap, I’ve seen people upset that he lied to Tony, even though he outright admits that it was his slightly messed up way of protecting Tony and he was wrong to do so. I realize comic book characters in particular have a lot of history behind them and people get attached to the image they portray. But I think people also forget that many of these heroes started out as average Joes and, unless they’ve had a complete personality overhaul, still are human despite having superpowers or high-tech gadgets.

It’s for this reason among many others that I love guys like Batman or, to continue with the “Civil War” theme, Tony Stark. In the movies especially, Tony is constantly going through the motions and has an array of awful things happen to him. Yet, despite being a genius playboy billionaire philanthropist, he comes off as relatable to me because he’s not perfect. He will never BE perfect. And the fact that the movies have made the effort to show that Cap isn’t flawless has made him grow on me as well. He comes off almost perfect, but there are just enough shades of self-doubt and, yes, the need to lie that makes him feel more three-dimensional. The whole point of “Civil War” is that neither side is 100% in the right. Both Cap and Tony have their reasons for taking their stances and make valid points, but they also are a bit in the wrong as well.

Characters, especially heroes, should make mistakes. Just because superheroes are a form of escapism doesn’t excuse them from good storytelling. If you want me to be invested in your character, I have to CARE about them first. For me, a lot of that comes from understanding both their strengths and weakness on an emotional level, not just a physical one. So, if you wanna complain about Cap’s actions, you’re free to do so. Just don’t expect me to understand why.

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