Superheroes And Their Parents / Families

Freud would’ve had a field day with these folks. It’s almost as if one non-negotiable condition for having super-powers to save the world is that one must have ‘family problems’ on an utterly messed-up scale. One could be forgiven for suspecting that if the below individuals didn’t end up as vigilantes fighting for the universe, they’d turn into the opposite.

Check this out:

John Connor (Terminator) — your dad is from the future who died trying to save your mum

Perseus (Clash/Wrath of Titans) — your dad is a god who had a one-night stand with your human mum and who’s got SERIOUS issues with his dad (who also happens to be the biggest baddest Titan of Time); your step-dad is killed by your dad’s brother (who drowned the only family you knew growing up)

Conan — you watch your dad executed via lava

Indiana Jones — your mum died when you were a kid and you don’t get along well with your dad (who was obsessed with a mythical cup)

James Bond — you never knew your parents and the first time you visit their grave people die around you (incl your friends)

Batman — your parents are killed right in front of you, and you feel guilty (because you were afraid of the show and wanted to leave the theatre)

Iron Man — your parents are killed in a car accident and you later try to kill your good friend (Captain America) because his friend was the culprit

Aquaman — you grew up believing your mum was sacrificed to monsters, your dad has been waiting for her to return to him (every morning) for decades

Captain America — your dad died when you were a child, your mum when you were a teen; your father-figure (Dr Erskine) is killed by the Nazis’

Spiderman — your parents were assassinated; and you are (partially) responsible for the death of your father-figure (Uncle Ben)

Superman — your parents died protecting you and blasting you away from your home-planet to halfway across the universe

Thor — your dad banished you (to this craphole called Earth) and stripped you of your powers

Loki — you hate your dad and brother, and later find out that your actual father was a Frost Giant; your mum (not even your real one) is killed

Wolverine — you kill your own dad (whom you didn’t know fathered you, and who killed the father you thought you had) and your mother dies casting you out

Green Lantern — your dad dies in a plane crash

Punisher — your dad (and whole family) is murdered during a holiday

Hulk — your dad is an alcoholic who murdered your mum; later, you’re hunted by your girlfriend’s dad.

Kungfu Panda — your mum dies saving you and you grow up with a step-dad who doesn’t tell you he’s your real dad until years later (when you eventually meet your real dad whose first important act is to lie to you)

Peter Quill / StarLord (Guards of the Galaxy) — your dad is a galaxy-consuming force whose life mission was to have sex with as many inter-planetary beings as possible in order to plant (literal) ‘seeds of destruction’

Gamora (Guards of the Galaxy) — your dad is a mega Titan, Thanos, obsessed with death who replaced your sister’s body parts with technological pieces each time you defeated her in ‘friendly’ battle

Ant Man — you’re divorced and you have a daughter you love but with whom your time is limited

Luke Skywalker — your dad is the meanest Sith Lord in the universe and he chopped off your hand; oh, you sliced off his hand, too.

Han Solo — your father-in-law is Darth Vader and your son kills you in cold blood

Anakin Skywalker / Darth Vader — your dad died when you were really young, then your mum was killed by Tusken Raiders, then fear and anger got the better of you, you tried to kill your father figure, Obi-Wan Kenobi, but got yourself roasted in the process. You finally took on a new mentor, The Emperor, who messed you up even more, you chopped off your son’s hand, hunted your daughter, etc.

Jyn Erso (Rogue One) — your mum dies in front of you and your dad is responsible for creating a planet-killer, and he dies during one of your team’s botched-up missions

Belle (Beauty & The Beast) — you grow up without a mum, your dad is captured by a monster and you take his place as captive for life

Wonder Woman — you don’t have a dad, your mum made you out of clay

Jesus Christ — you’re torn apart from eternal communion with your Father and the Spirit, given earthly ‘step-parents’, then made to suffer and die for people who hate you (whilst being abandoned by your Father in the process)

(That last one was a little Biblical add-on cum icing…)

What’s happening? Are all Hollywood producers also fans of Freud who, by the way, theorized that all of us are forever affected by (unresolved) issues stemming from childhood?

FYI, Freudian theory involves some kind of supra-biological DNA: As children, everybody had to negotiate our entrance into the world of law, order and norms which totally contradict the ‘natural’ libido-driven state we were used to as infants and children. In other words, all adults had to make the transition from Paradise to Rules, and that journey screwed us up psychically. We are all infected with a loss necessitated from ‘growing up’, it’s a wound that never leaves us, a condition through which we experience the world.

Maybe this explains why blockbusters (or even not-so-blockbusters) contain protagonists with inevitable family problems. Because movies are major cultural products, their creators simply cannot help inserting the ‘lens’ of a troubled childhood i.e. audiences may psychically reject Spider-Man if something tragic hadn’t happened to Uncle Ben.

We’re a long way from Little House On The Prairie.

Edu-trainer, Žižek studies, amateur theologian, columnist.