Why watching superhero movies can be good for your mental health

Superhero movies keep us on our toes, but when you look closer you’ll know it’s not just about entertainment! While telling the story of a hero with superhuman powers to protect people from a villain, there are important life lessons that superhero movies ultimately share 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 many superhero films that have been created, many of which are inspired by the characters from Marvel and DC comic books. They take us on an emotional rollercoaster ride with deaths, friendships, love and fierce battles between superheroes and supervillains… well, sometimes it’s superheroes versus superheroes! All these stories and characters help us learn life lessons.

A 2016 study published in the International Journal of Narrative Therapy and Community Work found that conversations about superhero movies and comic book protagonists helped members of a peer support group. They helped them not only be the heroes of their stories, but also find strength, meaning, and purpose in their difficulties.

What are the mental health benefits of watching superhero movies?

People mainly watch movies for entertainment. The way a movie affects a person’s mental health depends on the type of movie one watches, says Dr. Ashish Gambre, Consultant Psychiatrist, SRV Hospitals. They can serve as a source of entertainment, relaxation and inspiration, but can also influence emotions and perceptions. For example, a comedy film can improve your mood and reduce stress. A sad movie can help you release your emotions. But how do superhero movies promote mental health? Let’s see!

Watching superhero movies is good for your mental health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

1. Motivation

Watching superhero movies can motivate and inspire the audience. It can encourage viewers to pursue their goals and believe in their own abilities.

2. Stimulate the imagination

Movies can stimulate imagination and creativity, especially when watching superhero films, the expert tells Health Shots.

3. Help you be smarter

Superhero characters demonstrate cleverness and are good at problem solving, encouraging viewers to find solutions to complex problems. Take Iron Man or the Hulk, who always come up with unique ways to defeat the bad guy.

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4. Strengthen family ties

Because superhero films target a broad spectrum of age groups, they help strengthen family bonds because they can be enjoyed together. Additionally, even the storylines of the film have family as an integral part. For example, it was Bruce Wayne’s parents who were murdered in front of his eyes when he was a child. That tragedy was a major reason for him to become a vigilante and save the people of his city of Gotham.

Overall, superhero movies tend to have the same impact on children as they do on adults. It helps build their self-confidence, educates them about right and wrong, and promotes the importance and value of teamwork. The superhero characters act as role models for the children, notes Dr. Gambre.

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Superhero movies take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

What is superhero therapy?

The power of superheroes is so strong that even experts support superhero therapy. It is a concept of taking stories or characters from famous books, TV shows, films and video games and integrating them 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 moves toward their values ​​by learning to accept negative and unhelpful thoughts and feelings and helping them relate to a fictional superhero who has overcome many of their own struggles and challenges. This helps a person become their own version of a superhero in real life.

Side effects of watching superhero movies

As with anything else, too much of anything is not beneficial.

• Excessive viewing of superhero movies can lead to negative consequences, such as unrealistic expectations and desensitization to violence.
• Watching movies all the time can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and decreased physical activity.
• The violence and action in such films can increase aggression in some viewers.
• Children can imitate the superheroes’ stunts and suffer major injuries.

While you can watch superhero movies all day, just as Captain America can fight bad guys “all day,” it is crucial to be moderate when consuming movies to maintain a healthy mental state.

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