Superheroes shouldn’t fight change


Anjali Reddy, Off Campus Editor

One hundred and thirty years after his birth, he lives. How?

Sherlock Holmes, originally based on the story of a forensic scientist, has evolved to become the observant private investigator we know and love today. Sherlock Holmes’ fountain of youth lies in adapting his story to the times: his legacy lives on through Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books, the BBC show “Sherlock,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and “Enola Holmes,” a movie featuring Millie Bobby Brown as Sherlock Holmes’ sister. If it were not for the changes to the classic story, Sherlock Holmes would have lost his relevance long ago.

The concept of changing the classics to keep up with the present is not unique to Sherlock Holmes. In Sean Connery’s version of James Bond, Bond’s masculinity is emphasized by removing the vulnerability from his character. But Daniel Craig, who played James Bond in five films including the most recent “No Time to Die,” exposes the character’s emotions when dealing with grief from other characters’ deaths.

“Star Wars,” which initially focused on male characters, Luke and Anakin Skywalker, chose Rey, a female character, to lead the final trilogy as the movie series gained more female viewership.

After Chris Evans stepped down from his role as Captain America, Anthony Mackie was cast to replace Evans in the upcoming “Captain America 4,” a reflection of our society’s goal to strive for racial representation.

These new retellings hold something for everyone. For those who grew up with the original characters, each rendition offers a modern perspective on the characters they love. For those newly acquainted with these personas, the evolving plots and personalities provide entry points into the classic stories.

Despite their different meanings for the generations, the retellings allow younger and older generations exposure to each other’s perspectives on current times. Younger generations can understand the worlds created by past artists, and older generations can see today’s world through the lens of younger people.

Even if most people do not have the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes, the force like Rey, or the strength and endurance of Captain America, on some level, we can relate to these characters because of their human qualities. As the times change, so do people, and having established characters grapple with current day issues such as race, gender, and identity is vital because these films and TV shows—and their messages—are reaching much of our society. Fictional stories have real impacts: impacts that can immortalize people and messages.