Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast, and each will wrestle for the mastery there.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
We often learn more about our heroes, by the villains they fight. By the opposing force, we see where the lines are drawn, what monster they, or we, might become if we don’t take heed.
What if I told you, in my best Morpheus impersonation, that those heroes are just fighting themselves. Their outer struggle is often a metaphor for the torments they hold inside, and we relate to these characters because they are often a reflection of the very real, but unseen, onslaughts we’ve had to endure within our own states of mental health.
Spiderman has to wrestle with his selfish desires, his Venom, but even if he saves the day, he often lets down Mary Jane, Aunt May, or anyone else he loves. This is his gift, his curse, and no, it’s not for the faint of heart. There are negative consequences to even heroic actions.
That’s my role, isn’t it? To be the unrelenting failure. ”
-Morbius, the Living Vampire
Morbius, another Spidey villain, represents addiction, and the continuing struggle many go through with it. What if, in fighting Venom and Morbius, he was really just a guy dealing with his own selfish desires and addictions, and in doing so, even if he won, failed to be there for his loved ones anyway? It takes great strength to defeat those monsters, but what if they were invisible. For much of the time, Aunt May and his love interests don’t know he’s Spiderman. For all intents and purposes, he’s just flaking, and it’s this type of judging that people go through in real life every day when they fight their unseen foes.
Even The Flash has to fight The Reverse of himself.
The Reverse Flash actually leaves negativity in his wake. If that’s not symbolic of self-consciousness, I don’t know what is. The Flash, also, had to literally fight himself. Who wins that fight, really? But again, people do it every day, and they lose. Sometimes, winning one battle means being defeated by another. Clark Kent came to that realization via his own psyche in the form of Jonathan Kent in Batman v Superman. He saved the farm when he was a boy, but at what cost? This was something to ponder indeed, considering he then had to deal with Batman, who couldn’t move on until he dealt with his mother issues.
And, while we’re on the subject of people who are a little batty…
Of course, Batman represents order and fighting for justice so that others won’t have to go through what he did, but Batman is also fighting someone who went through a “bad day” and now has the desire to make sure that others hurt in the same way, to teach them a lesson about life. Yes, that’s right, it is himself.
We all want to be Batman or Superman, but with powers, it’s likely most of us would be Deadpool, on a really good day. The Joker represents chaos, sure, but he also represents giving up on humanity with a “screw it all’ attitude, but with laughter. Yes, THIS is the character that I’m probably the biggest fan of. Scary thought, right?
So, if you lose when you win, then how do you win without losing? It’s simple. You make friends with your enemy.
There are positive ways to direct negatives. There are strengths to be found in weaknesses. Just as Arrow in the CW’s DCU made friends with his enemy, Deathstroke, so can we make friends with our faults and find positive ways to direct them.
Addicts are persistent, goal oriented, often creative, and tend to have empathy toward people going through their own struggles because they know what it’s like. Morbius feels like a failure. Sometimes it’s a good thing to let your restraint fail, to let your Hulk smash, in certain situations. Sometimes, it’s good to be selfish or give up with a “screw it all” attitude, especially, if you’re in an abusive relationship.
Until then let that side of yourself out by playing video games, writing, or I don’t know, maybe dressing up like them and acting them out on a stage.
Everyone has a villain within, their Jungian Shadow, but it’s up to us to guide that shadow in the right direction, to make our weaknesses into strengths. It is then that we truly win.
All pictures were taken from https://www.comics2movies.com.au. Check them out, and buy their prints.
Faust complained about having two souls in his breast, but I harbor a whole crowd of them and they quarrel. It is like being in a republic.”
― Otto von Bismarck