Superheroes have remained relevant in popular culture for almost a century, with Superman having first emerged in 1938. These costumed and often superpowered beings have always offered a form of escapism for readers. They’ve also given hope that bullies and bullying can be overcome.
Many of the world’s best-known superheroes have faced bullying at some point, with Peter Parker having famously dealt with fights and name-calling in school. The creators of these characters realize they have a social responsibility to tackle such issues, and themes of bullying are always at least implicitly included within the storylines.
Bullying is an Issue That is Getting Worse with Technology
There are now more ways than ever for people to enjoy superhero themes, and the genre has blown up in cinema since the Marvel Cinematic Universe achieved mainstream popularity in 2008. The crime fighters aren’t just available to comic book “nerds” anymore: instead, these beloved comic book characters are now accessible to everyone.
In the same timeframe, bullying has transcended its former boundaries, and there are now countless ways for people to become victims of abuse. As this infographic from ExpressVPN highlights, with widespread access to the internet globally, the web has opened up new forms of online abuse and harassment. Increasingly, we are finding that people need to be taught how to be able to stay safe online because of this. While there’s a lot being done to raise awareness of basic preventatives such as never sharing your live location details or filtering certain triggering keywords from your comments, it would certainly help if mainstream entertainment was doing more to combat cyberbullying as well.
With superheroes having tackled issues of bullying in the past, it wouldn’t be surprising to see writers introducing new storylines to raise awareness of cyberbullying. This form of abuse is spreading, and people need to know that they are not alone. For some youngsters, seeing the sensitive issue of cyberbullying contextualized within their favorite movies could help to understand more about what exactly cyberbullying consists of and how to confront it.
Marvel Superheroes United for a Special to Stamp Out Bullying
Aside from storylines that focus on issues of bullying within the comics, superhero creators sometimes release special edition offerings that are designed to raise awareness. Marvel Comics is known for having done this in the past.
Back in 2014, Marvel Comics released six special covers for National Bullying Prevention Month. The artwork on display featured the likes of Spider-Man, the Avengers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. The one-of-a-kind comic included tales of superheroes being picked on, showing that anyone can be a victim of this form of ill-treatment.
The campaign from Marvel generated a lot of buzz, and it also inspired other, similar drives across popular culture. One of the primary aims of this sort of movement is to let people who are being bullied know that there’s help out there for them. They can contact support lines via telephone or reach out to parents and teachers.
Many Villains Were Bullied – This Highlights the Detrimental Effects
Superheroes have often come up against bullies in comics and movies, but they aren’t the only ones who have had to deal with this problem. In fact, many of the most famous supervillains were victims of abuse before they turned to lives of crime.
Some of the best-known bad guys to have been bullied in their younger years include Doctor Octopus, Wilson Fisk, Mr. Freeze, and Harley Quinn. It’s clear that comic book writers believe that experiencing this can be so damaging that it leads people down bad paths later in life. This is a message to bullies, who could see it and realize the pain they are causing.
Superheroes are so engrained in our society that the writers of their stories almost have a moral duty to address issues like bullying. Luckily, Marvel and other big names do a lot to draw attention to the problem.