Biff! Bam! Kapow! Superheroes are AWESOME! Just ask any kid!

But sometimes I wonder what these ‘good guys’ are really teaching my son.

My kids are MAD for superheroes. Yep, we’re THOSE people with the kid at the supermarket dressed in full Superman costume. Or Gecko from PJ Masks. Or even a bit of both. Because when it comes to superheroes, you can never get super enough, right?

My littlest is 3 and currently in full superhero worship-dom. If he’s not running at ‘super-cat boy speed’, he’s ‘super sticky splatting’ some imaginary villain. And who wouldn’t love to be a superhero? They’ve got super powers, cool costumes and always win the fight against the bad guys! I love seeing him have so much fun dressing up and playing pretend.

But sometimes I wonder what these ‘good guys’ are really teaching my son. And, apparently, it’s not all good news.

Boy in PJ Masks gecko costume

Good guys gone bad?

I wonder about superheroes because somehow playing good guys and bad guys always seems to end in someone, real or imaginary, getting hurt. Despite our clear family rules about not hurting others, when my son is in full superhero mode, he often kicks and hits others, complete with sound effects. It’s as if a key part of being a hero is hurting someone else. He’s pretending to be the good guy – so why is it that the ‘good guys’ go bad?

Well it seems that the answer might be because superheroes are violent – even more violent than the villains they overcome. Superheroes might save the day – but the way they do it isn’t by being a ‘good guy’.

Too much kapow

New research into superhero movies has shown that heroes commit way more acts of violence than bad guys. And their violence is a lot more serious than ‘kapow’ – the ‘good guys’ win with their fists or with lethal weapons. They fight and they bully – two things we constantly tell our kids NOT to do. Even worse, they torture and murder. When did it become ok for good to win by being evil?

Lead researcher John Mueller says the data suggest good guys aren’t so good after all. Researchers studied 10 superhero movies featuring kid favourites including Superman, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the Avengers.

The good guys committed 2,191 total acts of violence, compared to 1,724 for the bad guys

“This is important because so many kids are looking up to these superheroes as positive role models and people they want to act like,” John says.

We still love our super heroes

Don’t get me wrong. In our house, we LOVE superheroes. They are very cool, super powered defenders of good and they create a lot of make believe fun. I guess for me it’s about being mindful about what I let them teach our kids. Helping others and saving the world are awesome. But I don’t want my kids idolising ‘good guys’ who use violence to get their own way.

And with bullying a major issue facing our kids, I don’t think hurting others should ever be cool, for heroes or villains. So we still love our superheroes – but we talk about the good they do AND that the way they do it would never fly in the real world.

Looking for a hero your kids can idolise? Check out why Samuel Johnson is our real world hero.


I love my three country kids - and all things writing! Like most mums, I wear lots of hats - writer, children's author, organisational psychologist and the pairer of the odd socks!

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