Why superhero movies tell the same story

Justice League is on trend with salvation (and our 60-second verdict)

How many superheroes can you cram into one movie? Trying to rival the success of The Avengers and X-Men, Justice League unites Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and other superpowered crimefighters.

Even with such a stable of (caped) crusaders, the loud and brash Justice League struggles to make a dent in the overcrowded arena of superhero movies. As the solid yet tryhard capers unspool in predictable fashion, Justice League replays what all lycra-clad adventures focus upon.

What we’re left with when we boil down every superhero movie ever is the same story over and over and over again.

Justice League is stuffed with references to humanity needing to be rescued from destruction. Like all other superhero movies, it recognises something about the human condition that views salvation as a necessary requirement. Somehow, from something, we all need to be saved by someone greater than ourselves. And just like every character from Spider-Man to Thor, Guardians of the Galaxy to Wolverine, salvation for humanity in Justice League comes in the shape of superpowered beings able to take an almighty swing at villains.

To our rescue on this occasion are Batman and his merry men (and Wonder Woman), a bunch of ridiculously gifted individuals who sign up to be our saviours.

Oddly, as the Justice League goes about protecting the planet from some silly intergalactic baddie called Steppenwolf, they treat their mission like it’s a job. There doesn’t appear to be a more compelling or compassionate reason to come to our rescue than they have the skills, stamina and slinky suits. If they got a better job offer somewhere else, I think they might actually take it and leave us to fend for ourselves.

While it’s nice to think that some superhero will save us from peril, it’s disappointing to note how Batman and his gang only seem in to the job just as long as, well, they are in to it. For all of Justice League‘s talk of hope, it’s pretty hard to cling tightly to some saviours who could well slip away.

“Heroes remind us that hope is real,” explains Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in Justice League. If that is true, then superhero movies would be a signpost to real hope of salvation. But if the Justice League aren’t exactly saviours we can rely upon on, where will we find the real hero of our life story?