Are DC superheroes the new Greek myths?

Published By Tribute on Sep 15, 2017

One of the things that has always set DC apart from other comic book franchises is the fact that most superheroes are ordinary people who become godlike through their superpowers. Most superheroes are just like you and me, and become something greater than themselves whenever they step into their alter ego. But as Quentin Tarantino explains in Kill Bill Vol. 2:

As you know, l’m quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book, not particularly well-drawn, but the mythology. The mythology is not only great, it’s unique… Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there’s the superhero and there’s the alter ego... 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.

This has been precisely what makes DC, DC. Man of Steel depicted Superman (Henry Cavill) not as quirky, relatable or self-aware, but more stoic. While this polarized many, it's important to remember that Superman is not a man. He is Kal-El of Krypton. Superman is not the everyman, but a God amongst men. Is this really so different than Hercules' time on Earth? Both Superman and Hercules perform feats no ordinary mortal could. Neither "become" great -- they were born with nobility and grace.

In Wonder Woman, Diana (Gal Gadot) and the other Amazonians are daughters of Zeus, the father of the Gods in Greek mythology. Wonder Woman is literally a Greek goddess. The theme of the Wonder Woman movie is the fact that humans are not inherently good, or at the very least are not always inherently good. Diana is not an everywoman. She is a goddess who, like in the ancient myths, provides an insight into our humanity because she is so far removed from it.

Justice League will undoubtedly examine this further -- never mind that Aquaman (Jason Momoa) comes from the mythical underwater city of Atlantis where Poseidon, the Greek God of the sea, reigns. Thematically, our main heroes were all somehow blessed from birth. Batman (Ben Affleck) was born Bruce Wayne, the son of the richest man in Gotham City. Bruce later grew up to become even richer than his father. Even without being Batman, Bruce is a god among men.

Even a hero like the Flash (Ezra Miller), who was not born with superpowers, eventually becomes the fastest man in the world. These superlatives are classic DC. When compared to their Marvel counterparts, DC characters are always overpowered. If Marvel characters are underdog stories, DC's are clashes of the Titans. Batman v Superman was even billed as "the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world."

With Justice League hitting theaters in November, our heroes will face off against Steppenwolf, a god in his own right. It'll be god vs. god in a battle for the Earth! ~Yanis Khamsi

Comments & Discussion

  1. CDubya • 9/15/2017 12:17:16 PM

    This just made me more excited for the movie to come out. Mostly looking forward to seeing the Flash in action! I badly want a moment in the first or 2nd movie where he has to somehow race with Superman, that'd be and epic nod to those great comic races. But yes, these are current gods. In a way we do worship them as well. Look at how much $ we pay to just see them on the screens. Tarantino made a good comment. Supes was first and still different in the way that he is a God among men and his earthly costume is his way of blending in with us. Good way to think about it.

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