If you ask someone of my father’s generation who Thor or Loki were, you would get this for an answer. “They were ancient Norse gods.” Ask a young person that question now and you will get a twenty-minute history of the Marvel movies, the alternate timelines involved in the Infinity War, and a treatise on why Loki really isn’t so bad.
Are people learning more about Nordic history in school? I doubt it. So what happened? In one word…. Comics.
Whether it’s the old gods of Asgaard or the newer heroes of Gotham and Metropolis, what surrounds us are, I can maybe get away with calling, Supermen.
Why does it feel like we are living in an age of mythology?
We live in a moral grey zone and hunger for the certainty of knowing who the heroes are. Is it any wonder that young people seek out heroes and myths in an age that deifies the pragmatic, and the profitable and if we’re honest, dismisses ideas and ideals as childish fancies?
Marvel, DC, and the anime companies have all have tapped into this need to sit and hear the hero saga’s, to know once again why it is worth suffering through the darkness to make sure the light returns.
Robert Heinlein, the grandfather of modern science fiction, had an explanation.
“…you would have made a banker or lawyer or professor and you could have worked out your romanticism by reading fanciful tales and dreaming about what you might have been if you hadn’t had the misfortune to be born into a humdrum period.”
Heinlein, Robert A. “Tunnel in the Sky”
We live in an era where exploration is done, the world has been mapped, travelled, and factory farmed. There is no wild west, there is nowhere, outside of fiction, for young minds and hearts to peer into the darkness and ask the big questions.
What is right and wrong? Does it matter if I do the right thing? Can I make a difference?
These are the questions that make us human.