We need a superhero

Thirteen of the 15 highest-grossing films of all-time are superhero movies. And there is reason behind it.

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Every superhero film is woven around an identical plot: someone with exceptional abilities is locked in a deadly struggle with a villain. The good guy wins, though it's not easy, and so everyone lives happily ever after.

Despite this predictability, or possibly because of it, people around the world love these films. As The National reported yesterday, 13 of the 15 highest-grossing US films of all-time are about wizards and superheroes, and another is Skyfall, the latest James Bond film. (Is Commander Bond a superhero? He certainly has the power of longevity.) The only film on the list based on real events is Titanic.

The list is testimony to the power of fantasy. The problems in a moviegoer's real life, after all, may be less severe than an attack of giant robots or evil wizards, but our real problems are not so easily and quickly solved, either. Nor can we enjoy popcorn while we tackle them.

Some experts say escapist films tend to do well in hard times. Interestingly, all but two of the 14 top earners were produced between 2009 and 2013 - when the global economy tottered and real-world hopes faltered.

But the real appeal of these films lies in what they offer: a mix of escapism and hope, plus a chance to admire something larger than ourselves.