How Superheroes Have Changed

How Superheroes Have Changed Over the Years

Superheroes have been around for a long time. Since the 1930s – when the first Superman debuted – superheroes and, sometimes just as important, the idea of superheroes continue to grow and become more unique.

These changes are influenced by many things. More personal access to artists at comic conventions brings about better connections and a higher likelihood of ideas blooming. Easier publishing makes getting new stories out to the world in a matter of months now instead of years. Changes in technology greatly help the creation of comics and graphic novels as well as film and TV. These developments have also changed how superhero movies are influential.

Let’s dig a little into how superheroes have changed as well as answer some superhero questions:

  • What are superheroes?
    • Superhero vs. vigilante
    • Superhero vs antihero
  • What makes a villain?
  • How are superhero costumes made to look like their characters in the comics?
  • What is a good superhero for kids, and why are they important to children?

Superheroes In Fiction

The first fictional superheroes appeared in comic books (not to be confused with graphic novels), although many consider the gods of mythology to have been superheroes as well.

The idea of a superhero started with Superman, who had unbelievably strong superpowers and would use them to save the world over and over, protecting innocents and rescuing those in danger. Over time, his story, like so many other fictional superheroes that came after him, expanded a great deal, including adventure after adventure for the ever-growing number of fans.

Soon, superheroes made it to the big screen. These heroes and their countless villains were brought to life, delighting fans of all ages.

Today we are blessed to have such increased technology that these types of movies can be remade with high-quality graphics, allowing us to see aliens, superhuman strength, and even costumes with a mind of their own (such as Iron Man’s nanosuit) all as if it were really, truly happening. These advancements have brought superhero stories, which were mostly told in comics first, out into the light, bringing in new fans daily.

Superhero Costume Design

In the first years of superheroes in film, costumes attempted to be literal while also simple. While what the heroes in comics wore could often be complex, it was difficult to recreate that in real life.

Over the years, advancements have changed how superhero costumes are made and how they look. It is now possible to not only design more intricate costumes, but filmmakers can now use extremely good CGI to create some or all of a costume or character that wouldn’t even be possible in reality.


A Superhero Without Powers

There are many characters in fiction that do not have any extraordinary superpowers, such as DC’s Bruce Wayne (Batman), Marvel’s Clint Barton (Hawkeye) or Duncan in A Grim Trilogy to name a few.

These individuals may have some natural strengths that aid them while they battle bad guys, though. Some may have high intelligence, loads of cash, or the latest technology (or all three, like Tony Stark (Iron Man) to help create suits of armor and super intelligent AI to aid in battle.

So while they might not have superpowers, this doesn’t mean they are less of a superhero.

Superheroes, Vigilantes, and Antiheroes

We’ve discussed superheroes, but there are two other types of hero that exist – and often toe the line between superhero and villain. Let’s take a look at some of the characters from A Grim Trilogy to see the differences between the three.

Antihero vs Hero

Let’s talk a little about what antihero means. It refers to characters who try to help people and do the right thing, but lack important qualities that make the hero good. They are often referred to as “flawed heroes.”

Emma McRae and Isaac Krause are good examples of antiheroes. They are criminals. They work for a crime boss. But both were born into the life, and while they do know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, they feel they are doing the right thing because they know nothing else in their life.

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The first two Grim novels

When the events of Grim Ambition and Grim Judgment take place, they are determined to get out of their lives of crime. But they never turn fully around. Instead, all of their good deeds tend to be out of selifshness – especially seen in Grim Vengeance when they use Emma’s power to persuade the good guys to protect her and Isaac – saving their own lives instead of caring about strangers that could be hurt.

Antihero vs Villain

So an antihero is not a villain (at least not unless they turn into one later on). Villains are bad through and through. They are one hundred percent selfish, and often destructive. They don’t care who gets hurt in their path to winning whatever it is they set out to achieve.

A great example of this is Weston Alexander and his crime boss, Ivan Vance. Both choose the life of crime they live – they thrive in it. Alex enjoys hurting people. Vance sits back and orders others to do his dirty work while he revels in his money and the successes of his thugs.

An antihero may do good things that we might not think are actually heroic, but so do villains. There is a fine line between antihero and villain. Charlie Reed, for example, may think and feel like he is doing the right thing by tracking down and killing all of the Synths, yet it is not only for his own selfish needs but also harming others – the absolute wrong thing to do – but he does it anyway.

Antihero vs Vigilante

Finally, we have vigilantes. These are heroes just like Grim who takes the law into their own hands (other examples are Batman and Daredevil) to hand out justice in any way they can.

Shawn, his brother Jaxon, and his friend Cassie worked together to create the hero Grim to get vengeance on Ivan Vance’s crime ring after Cassie’s sister was murdered by Alex. In the process of going after Vance and his people, Grim also stops muggings, helps people in danger, and does many things a superhero would do. Grim uses his powers for good and for justice, but he ignores the law while he does, killing the criminals he comes across instead of making sure they land in jail.

Superheroes for Kids

The majority of today’s superhero movies are complicated and often violent. However, having the ability to grow up learning from superheroes can actually help shape children’s lives.

There are many versions of DC and Marvel superheroes that are redone for younger children, which can be found streaming on Netflix or YouTube. However, be sure you don’t overlook how many original superheroes for kids there are out there, too!

Watching the good guys fight evil is bound to make anyone cheer, but kids (and adults!) can actually learn a lot of life lessons from superheroes, too. They teach us to have good morals, to help others in need, to look out for each other. Superheroes may be fiction, but they show us why we need to be the good in the world we want to see.

We Need Real Life Superheroes

According to The Merriam-Webster dictionary, a superhero is defined as “a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers.” However, a superhero is so much more than that. And while those in fiction may have superhuman powers, there are many real-life superheroes around us. They are the protectors of the innocent. They are ones who put others before themselves. They are what this world needs more of.

So whether you have extraordinary hidden powers or you help others in need who can’t help themselves in some other way, how superhero are you?

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