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Why superheroes rule the screen

Stan Lee professes no deep and analytical insight into the human soul. “I’m not a psychiatrist,” he begs off. “All I know is, the good superhero movie has got action, suspense, colourful characters, new angles — that’s what people like.” Michael Cavna reports.

world Updated: May 12, 2011 01:37 IST

Stan Lee professes no deep and analytical insight into the human soul. “I’m not a psychiatrist,” he begs off. “All I know is, the good superhero movie has got action, suspense, colourful characters, new angles — that’s what people like.”

The latest wave of Hollywood superheroes is gathering force as it rolls in this summer. Thor’s domestic opening last Friday will be followed by X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern and Captain America: The First Avenger.

The superhero film is still as unstoppable and resilient and globally enduring.

Lee believes passionately that many people like their superheroes to have depth, to have vulnerability, to have flaws — to be vexed beneath the spandex.

“My theory about why people like superheroes is that when we were kids, we all loved to read fairy tales,” said Lee.

“Fairy tales are all about things bigger than life: giants, witches, trolls, dinosaurs and dragons and all sorts of imaginative things. Then you get a little bit older and you stop reading fairy tales, but you don’t ever outgrow your love of them.

“Superhero movies are like fairy tales for older people,” said Lee. “All those things you imagined — if only I could fly or be the strongest — are about wish fulfillment... And because of that, I don’t think they’ll ever go out of vogue.”

(For additional content from The Washington Post, visit www.washingtonpost.com)