By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics

Why Smart People Like Superheroes

Smart people like complex things, and the fictional universes of our superheroes are probably the most complex fictional universes created by man. I believe this is one of the main reasons that superheros are so popular with intellectuals, nerds, and smart, academically inclined young men, in real life and as parodied on the half hour comedy, "The Big Bang Theory."

Our comic book superheroes exist in two fictional universes: the DC universe that started with Superman in 1938, and Marvel Universe that really got started in in 1961 with the Fantastic Four.

The Marvel Universe also includes a few characters the company created in the early 1940s, the most famous of which are Captain America, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. In you are not familiar with Namor, he is very similar to Aquaman, but Namor was the original and Aquaman the copy.

So the DC Universe has been adding characters, stories, and other ideas for over eighty years and the Marvel universe has been doing the same for over sixty years. In recent decades both companies have been publishing dozens of twenty page comic pamphlets a month.

The incredible depth and complexity of these comic book universes also helps to explain why the superhero craze in the movies and TV has lasted over two decades. There are always more heroes, villains, and other characters to explore.

Another genre that has thrived in part because of its complexity was the Western. The West in both real life and fiction had many competing groups and interests. The writer could explore the relationships between cowboys, indians, the cavalry, county sheriffs, territorial marshals, railroads, stage coaches, the pony express, wagon trains, miners, prospectors, town's people, gamblers, saloon girls, white bandits, Mexican bandits, farmers, sheep herders, and more. Complexity can keep a genre fresh.

But I digress, superheroes appeal to smart young men in part because their fictional universes are in some ways the most complex, though not the most sophisticated, fictional creations of human culture.

So with that mystery solved perhaps you were wondering why The Big Bang Theory" mostly has references to DC rather than Marvel superheros. Click it, and check it out.

Last edited August 26, 2015

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