The Broken Hero

Posted Jan 24 2012, 8:00 am in , , , , , , ,

It’s after nine p.m. Monday night and I realized that I had no blog post for today. Nada. Usually I have something at least drafted, even if it’s just a title and an opening paragraph. But it’s been one of those weeks where a lot has been going on (mostly good) and I’ve been wrapped up and the blog faded from my mind at least temporarily. So I went to my handy file of ideas. (You have one of those, right? Things you find and say, “I might use this one day.”)

Anyway, I came across this post from November that explains why Batman is the greatest superhero. Now, I’ve never been much of a comic book reader, but I’ve always liked superheroes. Especially Batman. I grew up watching reruns of the 1960s TV show. All of my kids have played with the action figures and watched many versions of the Justice League. In fact, my youngest daughter absolutely loves superheroes. For a long time, Batman was her best friend (invisible as he was to the rest of us).

At a party recently I was talking to a friend’s husband and we chatted about all sorts of stuff, and I discovered my inner geek peeking out. We talked Star Wars (new and old) and super heroes. During the conversation, I mentioned that Batman had always been my favorite because he was just a regular guy but had that mysterious bad boy image. Who could resist?

Then, my friend mentioned that Batman was damaged goods, which made him a bad choice. Which got me to thinking. Some people might call Batman an anti-hero (which I talked about here). Maybe they’re right, but for me, he’s a broken hero or a tortured hero.

I love to read about a broken hero. There’s something about watching him fall in love and healing whatever is wrong with him that is so completely satisfying. I know a lot of readers love a tortured hero.

The why of it got me wondering. Because really, those guys tend to be total downers. They’re not uplifting or hopeful or even funny most of the time. They tend to be cold and distant, caught up in their own twisty dark side. Why the hell do we like them?

Maybe it’s because as women, we’re supposed to be nurturers. We want to care for those that are hurt and the tortured hero is nothing but deeply scarred. In having a hero that is so damaged, it makes it easier for the reader to become emotionally invested. I think that another part of it is that these guys tend to be alpha – take charge, do what needs to get done. I always find that sexy.

As much as they are always in control, it’s so much fun to watch them lose control as they fall in love. I think that’s where the hope lies. That love is possible even for these men who seem (and believe themselves)┬áto be totally unloveable. And finally, there is great satisfaction in knowing that the heroine is the one who rescues him.

The last great tortured hero I read was John in Inez Kelley’s Sweet As Sin. I talked about it a couple of months ago. If you love a broken hero, you’ll love him.

Who was the last broken hero you read and loved?



3 responses to “The Broken Hero”

  1. My husband’s a big graphic novel fan and we talk about this often. He feels that being “broken” is the only way for a superhero to grab us. In his opinion, it’s why Superman is less likeable than Spiderman and Batman. Clark Kent (until his Smallville incarnation) was just too perfect. He was a super-being right from the beginning.

    All good heroes are “wounded” in some way!

  2. Debra Kristi says:

    People need to be about to relate. They can’t relate to perfect, because none of us are. I agree with what Debra said. Love the post Shannyn.