You have more in common with Wonder Woman than you think.
Succinctly put: superheroes are awesome.
Just in case you disagree, let me lay out some important reasons why:
- They can sometimes fly.
- The often have super strength.
- They have ninja-level fighting skills.
- They have cool gadgets that make them even more powerful.
- They parade around in weird outfits and no one makes fun of them.
- They have superpowers (superspeed, energy manipulation, mind control, invisibility, lasers and what have you) that help them defeat the evilest villains and in turn everyone loves and reveres them.
- And so on and so on.
And for all their amazing qualities, they go through a bunch of crap just like you and me. I’d argue that what makes them super, really, is their ability to get through that crap.
Superheroes have entertained and inspired the masses for nearly a century. And for even longer than we’ve had superheroes, we’ve had literary heroes. And before that, waaaay before that, we had mythological heroes.
Turns out The Hero archetype is one that has presented itself throughout all religions, mythologies, and really most important stories, throughout all of time.
You know the story:
A young character loses someone important to them and embarks on a journey. They face trials and tribulations that they may win or fail, accompanied by some kind of mentor. A big “final” battle ensues, and their true strength is revealed. They grow as people and are loved in return.
Let me illustrate. This is the Hero’s Journey:
Now, let’s see how some of our favourite heroes’ stories fit onto it.
The reason we’re so drawn to these stories, and have been for millennia, is that it’s our way of expressing the patterns and symbols of our collective unconscious. Archetypes thus become a way through which we can understand our own existence.
The great thing about the Hero is that when we see it in stories it inspires us, but really we play the character of the Hero in our own lives every single day.
We’re constantly facing struggle after struggle, and it is our amazing ability to face these problems and grow from them that makes us heroes.
Dr. Jordan Peterson explored this concept in one of his classes, which I was lucky to be a part of (and which you can watch here). We’re constantly faced with the unknown, the death and rebirth bit of the Hero’s Journey, and it’s hard. It takes strength and courage to get out.
But once we do, we resurface as new people.
We learn from our hardships, whatever they may be, and are constantly reinventing ourselves. Over and over again life throws us into the Unknown, and it’s up to us to reach up and emerge anew.
“You have limitations, and the plot of your life is overcoming those limitations. Without them, there would be no plot, and therefore, no life.” — Dr. Peterson
In Wonder Woman, we see Diana face the death of those dear to her. She finds strength in that pain and becomes the superhero we know.
What makes her super, I would argue, is not the fact that she can defeat gods, or that she can fight better than any Amazonian, or that she has a cool shield and armour and the lasso of truth.
What makes her super is the fact that she was able, time and again, to take everything that life threw at her and find the strength to overcome it.
It’s not easy, in fact, it’s extremely difficult
But that’s what makes you super, too.