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Superheroes 'On the Couch' tonight at SFU downtown

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Batman? The Hulk? Wonder Woman? Do you have a favourite?

The answer may reveal a lot about you.

The human fascination with superheroes is undeniable and an event tonight at Simon Fraser University explores why we find them so gripping.

“We are discussing what superheroes depict in terms of their social, cultural, political and aesthetic aspects. What does it mean to have super heroism in the 21st century?” asks Hilda Fernandez, a psychoanalyst and associate of the SFU Institute of the Humanities.

Fernandez is one of four panel members taking part in Superheroes on the Couch. She believes superheroes are potent fodder for our fantasies.

“It’s their display of beauty in costumes full of symbolism. Their secret identities bring mystery and their special powers are fascinating. But also their stories — the myth of where they originate — add to the dramatic effect. We can relate to them; they have a vulnerability that engages our fantasies in a very powerful way,” she tells News1130.

Fernandez speaks from the heart. She is an unabashed fan of Batgirl.

“She’s my super-favourite superhero, the one from the sixties. I was so fascinated by her graciousness and her power. It was wonderful and I wanted to be her.”

In a sense, she will be. Fernandez will be in costume for tonight’s presentation as she analyzes the concepts of phallus, fantasy and desire while asking how the depiction of super powerful women has changed in modern pop culture.

The panel will also explore why we are so drawn to the tragic back-stories and ordeals that lead superheroes to ethical commitments to act on behalf of good.

“In a way, it’s re-enacting our fears. In a vicarious way, we can project our darkest desires on them; we can engage in that way without feeling threatened,” says Fernandez.

Superheroes on the Couch is open to everyone. It takes place at 7 p.m. at the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts at SFU Woodward’s in Downtown Vancouver.