The man in the folded red sheet

BY: Saurav Dhungana
August 16, 2013 · 4 minute read

A look back at how my fascination with superheroes has evolved from childhood to adulthood.

Like many other kids, I grew up with a rather curious fascination for superheroes. It probably started with Indian comic books. Later when we got cable television I got introduced to Superman, Spiderman, Batman and the likes. I remember my elaborate tantrums to make my dad buy me the Marvel and DC comics. I now realize that they were really hard to find back then and also quite expensive in Nepal. I have to thank my dad one day for that.

One of the things I watched during that time were the wonderful Superman movies of the late Christopher Reeve. Those movies left a rather indelible impression on me. I never went about wearing an underwear outside my pants (in public anyway), but I did wrap a towel around my neck and jumped off walls and single-storied roofs (much to the dismay of my parents) to be like him. A superfan of Superman was born. And of course I shouted -

Up up and away!

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

Now, those days are far behind me. I haven’t read a comic book in more than a decade and my last superhero animation was The Incredibles. Hell, I don’t even remember the last time I made a cape and pretend I could fly. I do watch the Superhero movies they keep on churning out though. Yes, I’ve developed quite an appetite for the drama genre like most adults. You know, the ones that you hear about at the Oscars. However, superhero movies have always been my guilty pleasure. I still get completely immersed in the whole superhero world for the 90 or so minutes, reliving those dreams of flying I had as a kid. Even wishing that I had a radioactive accident and got some of those powers.

Among the superhero movies the one I really like is Kick-Ass. I know the Dark Knight, Ironman and lately the Avengers were really good but I still prefer that movie. I like it for the fact that the protagonist actually did what all of us just dream of doing. He took that leap. I recommend you watch that if you have ever wanted to become a superhero as a kid. As luck would have it Kickass 2 is releasing today. Unfortunately, it won’t be showing in any of the cinemas in Nepal, so I’ll have to wait for the DVD to come out.

There have also been two attempts to revive my favourite Superman franchise. I have to admit both the Superman movies left much to be desired of. May be I expected too much from them. But still I enjoyed one thing in those movies which had made me a fan so many years ago - that He Can Fly. There’s nothing cooler than that. I think that very fact makes him the original superhero. He puts the Super in superhero. I used to watch Smallville a long time ago. I still think despite it’s shortcomings it was better than these movies of late. So, I guess my wait for that defining Superman movie will continue. I’m ever hopeful that someone will get it right.

And as I finish this post I leave you with one of the best quotes I’ve ever heard about superheros or about anything infact. It comes from the movie Kill Bill Vol. 2. This is a quote that Bill makes to Uma Thurman towards the middle of the movie. Its a rather interesting take on the whole superhero myth.

Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is that there’s the superhero and there’s the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he’s Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone.

Superman didn’t become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he’s Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red “S”, that’s the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that’s the costume. That’s the costume Superman wears to blend in with us.

Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He’s weak, he’s unsure of himself, he’s a coward. Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.

So, who is your favourite superhero?