“There is a superhero in all of us, we just need the courage to put on the cape.”– Superman
Everyone has a story, and everyone has a moment in their life that changes their entire world. This moment can be a great moment full of hope, and optimism. This moment could also be full of pain, and tragedy. For me, my life was changed by the latter, around five years ago. I experienced the lowest of lows, and thought that my life would be a perpetual moment of darkness forever. To me, and my mental illness, there was nothing in my life that had a purpose. Each day was a neverending episode of my depression and anxiety fighting over my brain. Until one day, when I discovered the cinematic world of DC.
A Glimmer of Hope
All my life there was a constant, superman. Growing up my father was the biggest superman fan ever, me being a close second. One day, I decided to watch “Man of Steel (2013)” dir. Zack Snyder, I took it to my parents house and with my father we watched it together for the first time. As we sat and watched I remember thinking I’d never seen superman portrayed in such a way. He was the most powerful being on earth, but he had constant doubts about himself. From a young age Clark struggled with who he was, and why he was so different from everyone around him. Growing up Clark was treated poorly by kids his age, and although he could’ve used his powers to make the bullying stop he didn’t.
“You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun, Kal. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”– Jor El, Man of Steel (2013).
It wasn’t until Clark reached adulthood when he figured out who he truly was, and the potential that he had. Throughout the film you see Clark on a constant journey of self discovery. But all the while he still is trying to hide who he is to those around him. Seeing an all powerful being such as Superman have doubts, be insecure, and many times struggle with simple things that humans do made me feel like I can accomplish wonders. Clark discovers that he has incredible gifts, and that he can bring hope to the world. This helped me with my mental illness in ways that I never really thought existed. I felt that if Superman of all beings, could overcome feelings of self doubt then I could to. At the end of the film you see Clark discover who he always wanted to be, a hero with a purpose. I, too, also discovered that although I have struggles, and insecurities that they don’t define who I am, that there’s still more to me. Clark made me feel hopeful for the first time in a long time.
Brooding, ruthless, and damaged. Bruce Wayne in “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)” Dir. Zack Snyder, was the hero I needed at the time. There was something different about this portrayal of Batman. He showed his trauma, he didn’t try to hide it. Every aspect of his life was consumed by the loss of his parents. We see a hero that hasn’t processed the pain, we see a hero who doesn’t trust. Throughout the movie we see Bruce have to face the fact that his PTSD (Post Trumatic Stress Disorder), isn’t going to subside no matter how many of his rogue gallery members he defeats. Hearing the name of his mother being uttered by someone he’s trying to destroy stops Bruce right in his tracks. And although this scene is mocked hand over foot, this is something that those who suffer from PTSD connect with. It takes Bruce back to the most painful time in his life, the last word he ever heard his dad speak. When those who suffer from PTSD are brought back to this time it’s almost as if time stops. There’s nothing else in that moment other than utter panic, and you can physically see Bruce step back and stumble when Clark says his mother’s name.
“Men are still good. We fight, we kill, we betray one another, but we can rebuild. We can do better. We will. We have to.”– Bruce Wayne, Batman v. Superman (2016).
Seeing such a moment in a movie was monumental for someone who suffers from any type of mental illness. Bruce showed that even those who struggle the same way he does, that you’re still worthy of having a life outside of your mental illness. By the end of the movie we see Bruce teaming up with Superman, someone he thought was his enemy in the beginning of the movie. Bruce showed that no matter how damaged someone is, they still have a purpose, they still are allowed to make connections with others. Your trauma does not define you, and having damage just comes with being a hero.
A Woman Like Me
Every aspect of Diana Prince exudes empowerment, and she’s an inspiration to men, women, and everyone in between. She is the protector of innocence, and brings those who seek to destroy worlds to justice. Diana leaves the only life she has ever known to save the world, to save people she has never met. Yet, all the powers that Diana has, and all the confidence she holds, she too isn’t perfect.
“I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind; but then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learnt that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves—something no hero will ever defeat.”– Diana Prince, Wonder Woman (2017).
In “Wonder Woman (2017)” Dir. Patty Jenkins, Diana comes to Mans World to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. She defeats the God of War, and in doing so performs her sacred duty. Although Diana did what she was born to do, she took a tremendous loss. Diana loses the first person she ever loved, and throughout her cinematic appearances in the DCEU, it still travels with her. She is never able to shake the loss of Steve Trevor. Diana eventually walks away from mankind for reasons undefined in the DCEU, but she returns when she is needed most.
Diana showed me that no matter what, or who you might’ve lost that your life still needs to go on. After losing a tremendous loss of my own I put my life on hold. I stopped answering phone calls, I never replied to texts, and I spent most of my time alone. It wasn’t until I faced my loss when I realized that I can help those like me. Diana showed me that there is a lesson to every loss, and that those losses make us stronger than we know. She showed me that no matter what has happened to you, there is someone out there who needs you.
Although I, along with many others, still suffer from depression and anxiety I will forever be grateful for the lessons, and the heroism shown from the DC cinematic trinity. These characters were an escape for me, and helped me in the darkest time of my life. Clark gave me hope, Bruce showed me to trust in others, and Diana gave me the courage to keep going.