Buildings break down as two of the most powerful beings fight in the city. Sonic booms and Earth shattering clashes ring out across the world. Blow after blow, punch after punch, the hero struggles against a villain that threatens the city itself. To save the city and millions of lives, his final hit destroys and eviscerates the villain, but now he has done the one thing he promised he would never do: take a life.
Superheroes’ stories have a basic component to them. They all have a black and white narrative where the hero is fighting against some evil force that’s trying to take over the world. This type of superhero narrative has been used for generations at this point and will probably keep being used until the idea of heroes are gone, but in more recent years, Superhero media that explore the morality of superheroes are getting more recognition and becoming more popular than shows that stick to the same formula of good and evil.
Invincible is one of these morality questioning stories. Written by Robert Kirkman, Invincible is a story about Mark Greyson who through his heritage, gets superpowers and becomes a superhero to fight crime. He eventually learns that fighting crime isn’t the only thing a superhero has to struggle with. This show easily diverts itself from the normal superhero narrative by just having the brutality of some of these superhero fights. In some of these superhero shows, you never see the superheroes get beat up or killed by the villian, but in Invincible you see that in all its honesty from the start and it gets even more brutal as you reach the end of the series. The characters of Invincible are greatly written to have the reader or watcher question the morality of some characters. An example of this is Mark Greyson, or Invincible himself. Throughout the comic morality changes from just trying to resolve situations by talking it out to deciding to kill the villain if they can be reasoned with. He struggles with this morality of either killing villains or talking to them because he realizes some villains are just people who are trying to make a change to the world in their own way or just trying to save somebody they care about. Mark does eventually overcome this challenge, but he also recognizes it as something he learns to make the right decision in his life. This shows his growth from being a normal teenage boy to a full on superhero ready to make the right choices in life.
To have a Hero be corrupted by their own greed,lust and laziness is a very dangerous and intriging thing to have in a story. The Boys, written by Garth Ennis, is a superhero tale which has a very interesting turn. Instead of the heroes in The Boys being the prime example of good and saving people, they are primarily selfish and at times evil. Most of the superheroes use their influence and power to fulfill their wants and desires. Sometimes this comes at a cost with endangering people or even outright killing people to get what they want. The protagonist of The Boys is Billy Butcher and he despises superheroes (with good reasons too), but his actions affect all superheroes. In his eyes it doesn’t matter if you’re a superhero with good or bad intentions, if you have powers you’re just a villain. This black and white outlook on superheros makes the show and comic book more intriguing because either side isn’t morally right and no one is truly a hero in this series.
So why are these two comic book turned shows so popular now? It’s really because the broken morality in these stories make the characters in these shows more relatable and more realistic than most superheroes. Superheroes are supposed to be an idea of something, the idea of justice, the idea of doing good, the idea of doing the best to your ability. These still exist in both of these stories but the writers coat them under the idea of realism and make the idea of justice undetermined and as confusing as it is in real life.