Can Comic Books Teach Men How To Be A Man?
And sometimes, it doesn’t matter. We push and pull, all to no avail. They are perfect in every aspect and cannot/will not ever change. We live with their standards and spend our lives trying to catch up to those standards. Yet, no matter how hard we try, we can never achieve what they achieve. They are born with the physique of Adonis and aged unfazed by the degradation of their cells. Yes, they forever look as if they are 25.
They are the epitome of what it means to be courageous. They leap into burning buildings, place themselves in front of gunfire, and explosions. And they do it without thinking twice. They speak from experience even if they don’t have any.
Even the ridicule and harassment by those who fear and or hate them, don’t bother them. We worship them because they are all that we can never be. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. We look into our mirrors, often saddened by the person who looks back. It isn’t that we hate the persons we become. No, it’s more that we have not lived up to the false expectations that superheroes placed on us.
- “It’s my fault.”
- “I can’t do it.”
- “I could never be like…”
It’s only an image.
We forget that, while our heroes appear real, they are mere reflections of the things we value most. Nothing more. Nothing less. This is a problem. Much like the shadows that celebrity image cast over the women of our lives, so too do the comic book males.
These heroes and more set the precedence for what the perfect male should be. While we struggle to maintain the “dad-bod” the comic book world shames us. Through analogies, metaphors, and similes they dictate who we should be, how we act, and, of course, how to be a man.
While Dove soap runs its ads showcasing the true female form, comics books remind men that they aren’t perfect. I suppose this isn’t their fault. After all, how many readers would read a story surrounding an overweight, underachieving, slob of a man?
And that’s why it’s so confusing.
We live in a time where differences, equality and, minorities are embraced. Knowing this, shouldn’t comics make more of an effort to portray the males as they are and not how they should be? I say yes.
But they don’t. Even villains cannot completely escape the pressures.
Villains don’t teach us how to be a man. We are taught that being a villain means to be overweight, bumbling, and a buffoon. Villains teach us how to cause more blunders than a baby in its infancy. Don’t mistake this for how to be a man.
So then, what are the solution? Does the comic book industry need a shakeup?
No. Not even close. What the industry needs are to elevate some of its “normal” heroes to the standard they set for their “perfect” ones.
We grow up idolizing Superman and Captain America not because of what they look like or the way they act. We grow up idolizing them because of what they represent. And what they represent isn’t what comics believe they represent. They represent an outlet to escape this world and live in another. They represent an imagination that most adults dream of having. And they represent pure, unbiased innocence.
It is only as a child ages that they realize most cannot/will not live up to.
The challenge is yours.
I challenge Marvel and DC to give us heroes and villains who resemble a realistic version of what it means to be a man. No cape, cowls, shields, or hammers. Instead, the actuality of what a real man is.
Remind us that being a man means raising your children, caring for our loved ones, and that fear is ok. Remind us that being a man means wearing a cape because you are a hero and not because the world tells you are a hero. And remind us that it’s ok to be ok. No pressure. No expectations. Being ok.
The volley is to you comic industry. What will you do with it? Will you teach boys how to be a man?