Superhero movies keep us away, but look closer and you’ll know they’re not just for entertainment! While telling the story of a hero with superhuman powers to protect people from a villain, superhero films end up sharing important life lessons with fans. As fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe prepare to see Brie Larson return as Captain Marvel in The Marvels, out November 10, let’s take a look at the mental health benefits of superhero movies.
The Marvels is one of several superhero films made, many of which are inspired by characters from Marvel and DC comic books. They take us on an emotional roller coaster with deaths, friendships, love and fierce battles between superheroes and supervillains… well, sometimes it’s superheroes versus superheroes too! All these stories and characters help us learn life lessons.
A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work showed that conversations about superhero movies and comic book protagonists helped members of a peer support group. They helped them not only become the heroes of their stories, but also find strength, meaning, and purpose in their struggles.
What are the mental health benefits of watching superhero movies?
People mainly watch movies for entertainment. How a film affects a person’s mental health depends on the type of film they watch, says Dr Ashish Gambre, consultant psychiatrist at SRV Hospitals. They can serve as a source of entertainment, relaxation and inspiration, but they can also influence emotions and perceptions. For example, comedy can improve your mood and act as a stress reliever. A sad movie could help you release your emotions. But how do superhero movies improve mental health? Let’s see!
Watching superhero movies can motivate and inspire audiences. This can encourage viewers to strive for their goals and believe in their own abilities.
2. Spark the imagination
Movies can help spark imagination and creativity, especially when watching superhero movies, the expert tells Health Shots.
3. Help you be smarter
Superhero characters demonstrate intelligence and problem-solving skills, encouraging viewers to find solutions to complex problems. Take Iron Man or Hulk who always find unique ways to defeat the villain.
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4. Strengthen family ties
Since superhero films appeal to a wide range of age groups, they help strengthen family bonds as they can be enjoyed collectively. On top of that, even the plots of the film are an integral part of the family. For example, it was Bruce Wayne’s parents who were killed in front of him when he was a child. This tragedy was one of the main reasons why he became a vigilante, saving the people of his city, Gotham.
Overall, superhero movies have the same impact on children as they do adults. This helps build their confidence and educate them about right and wrong, and foster the importance and value of teamwork. Superhero characters serve as role models for children, notes Dr. Gambre.
What is superhero therapy?
The power of superheroes is so strong that even experts support superhero therapy. It is a concept involving the use of stories or characters from famous books, television series, films and video games and their integration into evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy. It helps people with mild anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, says Dr. Gambre. It evolves toward their values by learning to accept negative and unhelpful thoughts and feelings and helping them interact with a fictional superhero who has overcome many of their own struggles and challenges. It helps a person become their own version of a superhero in real life.
Side Effects of Watching Superhero Movies
As with anything else, an excess of anything is not beneficial.
• Excessive viewing of superhero films can lead to negative consequences such as unrealistic expectations and insensitivity to violence.
• Watching movies all the time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and reduced physical activity.
• The violence and action in such films may increase aggression in some viewers.
• Children can imitate stunts performed by superheroes and suffer serious injuries.
Although you can watch superhero movies all day, just like Captain America can fight bad guys “all day,” it’s crucial to exercise moderation when consuming movies in order to maintain a healthy mental state.