Reflections on Heroism

Recently, I caught up with Miraculous, a series about two teenage superheroes in Paris. I hope this isn’t surprising, but I completely fell in love with the series. All those who know me and those don’t shouldn’t be terribly surprised given that I’m currently writing a serialized novel about a superhero. I love heroes whether they’re superpowered or not, and I’m happy to get to explore that in my own work.  

My interest in superheroes doesn’t end at admiring a (probably) mask-wearing character stopping crime, but rather continues on to me wondering how being a hero impacts the character positively and negatively. I love stories that explore this, and I feel like Miraculous is doing this in an amazing way.

Between all my commitments it’s hard to find time to watch/read new series so watching Miraculous was a treat. While I impatiently wait on season two, I’ve decided to reflect for a moment on heroism.

In Crimson Demoledor, the main problem that Miguel faces is his city’s rising crime rates. As such, he decides that he will become a hero in the same vein as his deceased role models. I won’t give away future events for CD, but one interesting topic in the superhero genre is the hero’s sense of personal responsibility towards their society. Quite a few heroes don’t start off feeling that weight of personal responsibility, but over the course of their stories that sense develops within them. While I have not read every single superhero story available in the mainstream stories I have read this is a recurring theme. So, that lead me to wonder a few things. Is this personal responsibility what makes someone a hero? Is a hero someone without flaws, meaning that they have gone beyond humanity? What is a hero?

In my opinion, a hero is someone who has not given up on the world, and believes that they can bring peace to the world through their direct actions. However, a hero is also still a human/mortal being with flaws. Becoming a hero doesn’t make someone flawless nor automatically selfless. Heroism has to be an active process, a choice that the person makes above other options.

In Miraculous, Ladybug and Cat Noir have one huge goal besides saving Hawk Moth’s newest akuma-possessed victim. Their final goal will be taking Hawk Moth’s miraculous so that no one else can be transformed by his powers. I find it fascinating how Ladybug and Cat Noir have the same end goal as Hawk Moth, yet the realization of their goal won’t cause damage like Hawk Moth’s goal potentially would. However, that’s a topic for another post.

Ladybug and Cat Noir’s heroism is one of the key parts of the series that I adore. I also adore Miraculous due to their willingness to actively develop Ladybug and Cat Noir both in and out of costume.

Firstly, we have Marinette’s development from the origin episodes to Volpina that makes me incredibly happy, because I love the emphasis on her lack of perfection being a cause of a lot of conflict. In the origin episodes, Marinette tries to reject being Ladybug before eventually accepting the role. However, this doesn’t instantly transform her into a better person. Throughout the series and especially in Volpina when her actions push Lila towards Hawk Moth, Marinette is presented to us as a teenage girl. As such, Marinette is allowed to express more than positivity and is allowed to be arrogant, jealous, or mean to others who may or may not deserve it. By allowing Marinette to be more than a mouthpiece for justice, she becomes more sympathetic. I love watching this show because Marinette is allowed to be flawed and is shown to learn from her mistakes.

Secondly, there is Adrien. I could write an entire post on the differences in his personality when he’s Cat Noir versus Adrien, but I won’t. Instead, like with Marinette, I love that Adrien is allowed to be a teenager. Specifically, I love that the series does not focus on Adrien as just Marinette’s love interest, but as a character in his own right. Adrien has been fleshed out and given his own concerns outside of his relationship with Marinette/Ladybug. We have a few hints of Adrien’s life before Plagg entered it, but from what the origin episodes showed us the inherent goodness in Adrien’s heart despite his circumstances is nothing short of a miracle? One of the clearest examples of Adrien’s growth is how his relationship with Chloe has shifted from “tolerating” to “calling her out.” Additionally, we can also see this shift when Cat Noir points out Ladybug’s arrogant behaviors and their impact. Adrien was shy at first, but through channeling his freedom as Cat Noir, he is coming closer to letting his public persona mask fall.

What I love most about Miraculous is that Marinette and Adrien are developing alongside each other. I appreciate that we get to see the impact both of them have on one another’s development be that positive or negative. Getting to see  these characters with their flaws who are still heroes is such a treat. A character who has no flaws is not realistic and wouldn’t engage their audience at all. A perfect person doing perfect things perfectly is boring. I love reading and watching characters who I can sympathize with.  

When we explore what lies beyond the hero’s mask, what motivates them, and what urges they have to fight against to do their job, that’s when I feel most connected with superhero stories. I’m really glad to have found that in Miraculous.