People love superheroes. These powerful beings have moved from crushing criminal masterminds to crushing box office records, with audiences lining up for the latest Marvel instalment. Many of these films have sought to portray their title characters’ origin stories, underlining the importance of their beginnings to the audience. The origin story provides context for the motivations and actions of the superhero to audiences. We have empathy for a wealthy playboy billionaire because we know the young boy standing over his murdered parents. We’re proud of the geeky college boy bitten by a radioactive spider as he grows into his superpowers and gets the girl.
I love this particular origin story. A young man drops out of college since his parents can’t really afford the tuition. He drifts aimlessly, occasionally spending time picking apples and returning bottles for money. He drops into classes at his old school, developing a interest in arcane subjects, like calligraphy. Searching for something more, the young man travels to India, living in an ashram for several months. He meditates and trains. Now sporting a monastic shaven head, the young man returns home, meeting a young geek who shares his sense of alienation. As their relationship develops, the geek shows the young man his new invention; an invention of such extreme power that the young man quickly realizes that they can transform the world with this device. He knows that his whole life has built towards bringing this machine to prominence. (more…)