No matter which comics you read, or movie you see, no one is left untouched by tragedy. Often times it is those events that propel someone’s actions for the rest of their life, and what makes a hero is how they react, how they rise above their pain and make themselves better. The most well-known heroes are born of tragedy like Batman, orphaned by Joe Chill at 8 years old, Spider-Man, lost his parents and then his uncle due to his inaction, Captain America, gets frozen and loses everything he knew and is thrust into a new world, and of course Superman who lost his home planet and is now the last son of Krypton. From comic conventions to hospital visits people use these heroes to inspire and help others, but where does that come from and how does this help?
To get personal for a moment I was in an abusive household as a child. There were times I’d go without food for days. My day to day was marred by the bruises that were hard not to find. I spent up to 10-15 hours locked in a closet with no light and little room and sometimes it was hard to have hope or keep going. One day, I sat in front of the TV and heard the iconic theme that was Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. When they revealed the Batman’s origins. I felt safe, and no longer alone.I was inspired. Inspired to help others like me or far worse than me. And I did it through cosplay.
Many cosplayers do not just attend cons, they visit elementary schools and hospitals with children. That is where our nerd journey started for many of us, as kids. We hope to inspire them as these heroes have inspired us.
The heroes we idolize help us shoulder burdens that sometimes are too great for us to hold alone. Even with the power to move an entire planet with his bare hands, Superman has taken the time to talk to people and tell them that even if they think no one in the world cares, he does, and he believes in them.
I will never forget an event where I was working as Batman, this boy walked up to me, tears in his eyes and hugged me, he whispered thank you. When he walked away a woman who I assumed to be his mother told me that she was actually his aunt and his parents had passed away in a car crash. Batman was the only thing that got him through it. At that moment, I became the thing that got him through it.
Since the time of Gilgamesh, heroes have been meant to evoke the best in us, and cosplayers bring those fantastic worlds to life, the personification of heroes who never lived but have taught and done so much for people all around the world is, for me, the greatest thing that a cosplayer could do.