Much Ado About Superhero Teams

Posted: February 21, 2013 in On Comics
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.” – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

So last summer we all had our minds blown by the amazing team up of the genius-playboy-billionaire, the man out of time, the god of thunder, the master assassins, and the man with an incredible temper. But before that happened, piece by piece, we were told their individual tales. While movies like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America did well at the box office (and with audiences), The Avengers shattered records across the board. People just could not get enough of the superhero dream-team. Thanks to the success of the Avengers, Marvel is currently working on “Phase 2” of their films (consisting of Cap 2, Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and the Guardians of the Galaxy), and there are even some stirrings on DC’s side of the fence with Man of Steel due out in June.

So I wondered: why are we so attracted to superhero teams? What is it that makes Iron Man and Cap fighting side-by-side so much cooler than Iron Man tackling his problems alone? After spending all week reading the new Justice League and reading an exchange between Superman and Wonder Woman, I think I’ve got it figured out: we like seeing superheroes banter back and forth with each other not only because it’s 150% badass, but because there’s a dynamic between them that they don’t share with most “normal” people.

Think about it: Captain America can’t get drunk because of his body’s superhuman abilities. Superman is a god-like being among mortal men. Tony Stark has an intellect that far surpasses any other human’s, and Cyborg (Teen Titans, anyone?) can’t ever take his superheroic “costume” off. Who are these people going to relate to? Sure, they’re in love with “normal” people and have families with “normal” people in them, but how would they shake the feeling of being alone in an expansive world with no one like them? We like watching these superhumans fight side-by-side because in a really strange way, we can project ourselves and our friends onto them. We can relate to their struggles (albeit in a much different way) and to their loneliness, and we get giddy when we see them find others like themselves.

Plus, it’s always fun to see our heroes have their buttons pressed by someone who isn’t a supervillain. Batman and the Green Lantern, Iron Man and Cap, the friendly quarreling provides great comic relief in times of holy-shit-the-world-is-ending stress. The clashing personalities and conflicts that arise make for some hilarious moments. Superhero team ups give us the chance to see that despite their super qualities, under the armor and the spandex they are still human.
..or Kryptonian.




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