I, like most Americans – have been part of the superhero film movement the past 10 years or so.
For as long as I can remember – I’ve been a Batman fan. In fact – you’d probably be surprised to know that I have almost 200 Batman action figures – in their original box. I have a t-shirt that says,
“Be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman”.
Then the Marvel movies started coming out. I had a brief romance with Tony Stark, aka, “Ironman”. Inwardly however, I most identified with Bruce Banner – the quiet nerd who was forever bullied, secretly hiding an internal rage monster.
I enjoyed getting lost in the movies. I like many people worshipped these larger than life characters who ran out with their various genetic mutations and billionaire toys to save the world. I thought they were awesome incarnations of our best possible selves. Something to be aspired to.
A few months ago though, I realized how wrong I was.
I decided that the best superhero of these movies, was the least venerated…the weakest of them all.
A man with no superhuman abilities.
If you’re not familiar with him, Saturday Night Live expressed the general sentiment of the population with this popular skit, mocking his “in-abilities”.
Hawkeye shoots arrows. When he runs out of arrows – he hits people with his bow. Uses his fists.
He’s just a guy.
But before he was an Avenger, he was already a superhero.
He was a dad. And a good husband. (we first learn about it in this scene).
I’m 46 years old. In the past 10 years, I’ve seen about 2 families a year…people that I’ve known for a long time, split up. About 90 percent of the time, it’s because the guy….the dad, the husband, loses his ******** mind.
Gets a promotion, or a raise at work.
Goes to the gym, starts working out….getting noticed again.
Gets a PM from an old girlfriend on Facebook Messenger.
Gets noticed by a co-worker at lunch.
Offers a warm shoulder to another woman at church who needs consoling.
These are all very real things that I watched happen in slow motion before my very eyes. Each time, a pockmarked minefield….an emotional wasteland left behind for their wives and children to navigate through and across the rest of their lives.
)Sometimes it’s not that simple. I get it. Things go sideways. My own father was divorced and remarried. He left his own wake behind him…something he regretted up until his own death.)
Most of the time though, lately – it’s that simple.
It’s gotten where I can predict which couples are headed towards the reefs and rocks. Which ones will make it out the harbor into the ocean beyond.
If you think hard about it – you probably know a few of those couples yourself. And despite everything and anything you can think to do or say to the person…it amounts to throwing feather pillows at the Titanic, as it heads towards the iceberg.
Hawkeye is the only Avenger with a spouse. And kids. And a family. In spite of all the garbage he brought to the table – all his history, and everything he does and will do every day…he comes home and keeps his promise. Keeps his kids and wife safe.
Ask him what his job is. It’s his family.
Ask him what his first responsibility is. It’s his wife’s heart. Then his kids. Then saving the world.
Hawkeye will never have his own movie. (Stark got 3. Thor got a bunch too).
Hollywood glorifies the glitz and the sex and the flirting and the toys and newness.
You know what’s harder than throwing a magical hammer at something evil?
Loving your wife when you don’t particularly like her that day. Or know you don’t exactly deserve love, reciprocated.
Apologizing to your kids when you’ve behaved like an ass**** in front of them. Finding ways into their lives, and reassuring them that they are loved unconditionally.
Someone told me once that being a husband, and a father – was assuming the responsibility of a “keel”. A keel is the part of the sailboat no one sees. It sticks down under the boat, and prevents it from overturning when the wind hits from the side.
A keel smooths the journey. Absorbs the blows. Provides stability and direction.
Sometimes, being a keel sucks.
But I watch these guys. In their red cars, with their freshly minted pectoral muscles and 35 year old 2nd generation models. Laden in body spray…lying to their lawyers and most anyone else who’ll listen. There’s nothing about that decision I can understand. Zero.
I keep waiting to see the “happiness” everyone talks about – the happiness they say they deserve. It just seems really really empty on the other side of that fence. The brokenness they had before the fall, carried across the posts with them to the next iteration of dysfunction.
I want to be a Hawkeye. There, I said it.
Not a Batman (argh….200 figures!!!!) or an Ironman or a Superman. (Maybe a Batdad?)
We have enough of those guys, I think.