Hero’s. It’s hard to find a story without them these days. We deem them to be perfect people, without any flaws. But by todays standards what qualifies someone as a hero? According to Oxford Dictionary a hero is someone who is “ admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities”.
What I find particularly interesting about this is that there is nothing there that says the hero needs to be a good person, but only perform good deeds. This led me to think about the characters that we consider hero’s today. We have superhero’s like Batman and Superman, but then characters who are given the chance to rise to greatness like Harry Potter and Frodo. But my question to you is, if these characters were able to cross some strange vortex and appear in our world, we as a society still consider them hero’s? Would we still see them as good people or would some of their nastier actions we often choose to overlook mean more if it happened in our world? Would their human flaws that we judge everyone by in our own society , get in the way of this idolization? This is what I set out to explore.
In my Interpreting Media class at University were given the task to choose a popular hero and give them a full psychotic report. This was done with the intention of stripping back the character, seeing if as a society we would find their actions, traits and quirks normal outside of their given environment. My group decided to explore Deadpool, who is known for being an odd character even in the superhero universe, yet fans love him and his often strange ways. However after looking into some of the behaviour he displays throughout the film, some shocking things began to unearth themselves.
We started by making a list. What has this character been through that would mess a person up in real life. This is what we came up with:
- he had lost his mother to Cancer at a really young age
- He had an abusive father
- he started committing crimes at a young age
- he became an assassin for people he thought should die
- he himself got cancer
- he changed his identity after a mission failed and had to start a new life
- thought he lost his girlfriend – the supposed love of his life
- was manipulated into being experimented on
- became mutated
Now, if you happened to meet someone in your lifetime who had gone through all of this would you consider them a hero in our world? I’m not sure if I would.
From this list we started to research the possible side effects living through these events would have on a person, a real person! And what we found actually made a lot of sense. Some of the disorders we began to find seemed to link perfectly with his personality and many of the quirks we find funny on-screen had darker roots than one would imagine. For example we came to the conclusion that he was defiantly a psychopath! According to HealthyPlace.com some symptoms psychopath’s may display are: ‘a superficial charm and glibness’- is pretty charming and childish at times, ‘ a constant need for stimulation’- isn’t he always acting on impulse and getting himself into dangerous situations? and lastly ‘ being manipulative, and having lack of remorse or guilt’ – yep! he defiantly you can defiantly see that too!
When you look at this scene you can see how he goes from being charming and sweet, even quite childish with his crayon drawing, to being horrifically violent and killing people in a car. This sudden change is a prominent feature in psychopaths and something we all find funny in the film, but would be terrifying if we saw someone change like that in real life.
You see my point right? It’s actually not too hard to make links between his horrific experiences in life to the way he acts in the film and comics.
We also concluded that he may suffer PTSD from his mother’s death and fathers abusive relationship with him. A key symptom with PTSD is experiencing the horrific memories you can’t seem to escape and throughout Deadpool we are often met with flashbacks recounting these terrible events. In fact if he hears the name Francis he is instantly triggered into loosing control.
Another symptom that seemed to seemed to be prevalent within Deadpool was possible brain damage from the mutations and experiments. People who suffer from this often gain a personality disorder with symptoms that induce spontaneity, effect impulse control, sexual and disruptive behaviour and impart your judgement. If you think about these are some of the things fans love about Deadpool! His ‘no risk’ attitude and ability to get himself in and out of sticky situations is what makes him a fun hero, but if we saw him take these real life would we think he was brilliant or just plain stupid?
At the end of the day it doesn’t really change much. These characters , as much as we may want them to, can never transgress into our own world. But these strong ideas about the people we choose to call a hero is still very relevant to us in our society. We are we so quick to elevate people like Deadpool to a ‘hero status’ when we wouldn’t do the same for people who suffered these things in our society? I think its time we start to consider the kinds of people we choose to idolize and call heros. The fact that many people wouldn’t consider these people heros if they met them in real life says something about they way we choose to view the people in our own lives.
I personally believe that everyone has the chance to be a hero. Heroism doesn’t need to derive from massive acts that only people with superpowers, red capes, or the ‘power of the force behind them’ can achieve. There are small everyday things people do that makes that makes them heroic, and sometimes mean more to us than the big gestures we see in movies. There’s the teacher that puts in the extra hours to help someone who is struggling, a parent who gives up every Saturday morning to stand in the cold and watch your netball game, or the person who gave you wallet back to you when you dropped it on the floor. These are the people we should be recognising in our lives. The ones who give us the small acts of kindness. They are the ones we should call hero’s.
I think that its great we have character that are our hero who teach and entertain us, but we should never lose sight of the real hero’s in our own lives. Those who go unspoken and often unrecognised, but are still just as important never-the-less. And think about it this way, if you’re sad that you’re never going to meet your favourite hero in real life, just think you might find you wouldn’t really like them anyway.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America. (2016, April). Symptoms of PTSD. Retrieved from https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/posttraumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/symptoms
Only Movies 2000. (2016, May 4) Deadpool- Car Fight HD. ( Video File) Retried fromhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YI-yMivF9X0
space.ca. (2016). Deadpool. Retrieved from http://www.space.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/deadpool.jpg
Spielwarnmesse. (2016) Young girls as Superhero’s. Retrieved from https://www.spielwarenmesse.de/fileadmin/data_archive/Relaunch_Spielwarenmesse/magazine/header/20151202_Header_EverdayHero.jpg
Tracey. N (2016). Psychopathy: Definition, Symptoms, Signs and Causes. Retrieved from http://www.healthyplace.com/personality-disorders/psychopath/psychopathy-definition-symptoms-signs-and-causes/
WallPaperCraze. (2016). Avenges. Retrieved from http://wallpapercraze.com/images/wallpapers/avengers_heros_w1.jpeg