The new Avengers film was just released this weekend and has been setting box office records in the US and across the world. Which isn't unusual or unexpected. Superhero movies are consistently among the top grossing films in cinematic history.
Out of all the genres of movies, I think there's a reason that superhero films resonate so widely, with people of every age, gender, and background: they subtly remind us of our own heroic quest.
Each of us is on a journey, one with ups and downs, but always where we struggle to conquer the worst in ourselves and strive to triumph in the end. And of course most superheroes start out just like us--they're ordinary people to whom something extraordinary happens. Oftentimes, they are very flawed people in one way or another. Just as we are. But we recognize that circumstances and life experiences force us to rise to the challenge. We all must triumph over not just our external circumstances but our internal selves. That's almost always what a superhero must do. Either they are reluctant to join a fight or just don't believe they can do it…but do it they must.
The superhero journey--and after all, let's not forget that the superhero literature is created by our fellow, very ordinary human beings--is a mythic retelling of our own spiritual journey. We begin as anonymous, ordinary, even deeply troubled, people and eventually discover and then realize our hidden powers and full potential. In some of the Eastern wisdom traditions, rising to the heights and expanding our capabilities is described as achieving a state of superconsciousness. Being a "superhero" then is another way of saying that we've achieved the highest state of superconsciousness.
At some level, we all recognize this. Which is why we continue to be drawn to superhero movies. And why we can never get enough of them--they continually remind us about our own mythic journey and inspire us to continue onward and upward in our own quest to become a superconscious superhero.