In the dream, I wasn't wearing a garish costume or battling a stereotypical, two-dimensional villain. Instead, it all seemed real -- the setting was my neighborhood, and the powers I had (flying, super strength, mindreading) felt as tangible as walking and eating and breathing in the waking world.
When I awoke, details of the dream were still swimming around in my thoughts, like memories from an actual event, or like the reaction after watching a really enjoyable movie.
That led me to think of the current state of the superhero genre in film and television. The last truly great superhero movies that I saw were the original Iron Man and The Dark Knight, both from the summer of 2008. A bunch of comic book adaptations are scheduled to come to the big screen in the coming months and years -- Thor, X-Men: First Class, Captain America: The First Avenger, Spider-man 3-D, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Superman: Man of Steel, and many others -- will any of them be any good?
Television is an even bigger question mark. There arguably has not been a good superhero TV series in a long while, maybe since the first season of Heroes, a show that declined in quality surprisingly quickly. Other lackluster heroic programs included Bionic Woman and the current No Ordinary Family. Some more are on the way -- Syfy's Alphas and NBC's The Cape. Will either of them capture audiences' imagination?
If this is truly the golden age of the live-action superhero genre, I hope it hasn't passed its peak. A good heroic tale makes me feel like a kid again, and it is a mythic form that can tell a lot of stories relevant to our time. If only they can live up to our dreams.