It’s been another vintage year for the kind of overblown super-hero movie we’ve come to expect when summer rolls around. 2012 hasn’t pulled any punches. Joss Whedon’s fan favourite The Avengers ‘Hulk-smashed’ box office records and Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises was a suitably satisfying conclusion to the iconic Batman reboot.

Movies like The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are so enjoyable that they set me wondering whether there’s more to the average comic book adaptation than meets the eye.

The Dark Knight Rises and its peers are entertaining spectacles (perpetually re-bootable ones at that) but actor Tom Hiddleston says we shouldn’t write these post-modern mythologies off as over-blown popcorn cinema. They might just have something more nourishing to offer.

In an article for The Guardian’s Film blog Hiddleston appeared to take a refreshingly philosophical view of superhero movies as this generation’s morality tale. ‘It’s the everyday stuff of every man’s life, and we love it’, says Hiddleston. ‘It sounds clichéd, but superheroes can be lonely, vain, arrogant and proud. Often they overcome these human frailties for the greater good. The possibility of redemption is right around the corner, but we have to earn it’.

My favourite super-hero has to be Batman, precisely because he’s not really all that super. Neither is he especially heroic. He’s your average eccentric billionaire playboy (on the outside at least).

Bruce Wayne’s super powers are his ideals, what he represents for the people of Gotham. Less man of steel, more man of the people. His responsibility to the people as a symbol of hope gives the caped crusader the courage to fight the good fight in spite of his limitations.

“Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up”, his father instils in him from a young age. The virtue of perseverance through adversity is what I find most encouraging and particularly inspiring in Batman. Of all the heroes in the comic-book universe, his plight seems to me to be the most relatable to our own. 

Ronan Wright is a graduate in Film Studies from The Queen’s University of Belfast. As well as contributing to MercatorNet as a film critic since March 2011 he has run Filmplicity, a Belfast-based film...