At Other Blog, Charlie Anders loves superheroes in comics, but often finds them disappointing in other media:
I think there are a few reasons why I dislike superhero movies, in particular. One is that even the best ones, like the first two X-men movies and Batman Begins, have a certain self-conscious stageyness about them. Also, screenwriters invariably try to make everything personal, so for example the villain of Batman Begins is the guy who trained Batman in the first place. It’s the story of their relationship, rather than the story of Batman becoming Batman and then encountering evil. Shows like Heroes and Smallville, meanwhile, take the “soap opera” thing from comics without bringing along enough of the themes of duty versus personal life which distinguish the soap opera in comics from the regular kind. (For example, Spider-Man constantly having to choose between his personal life and being heroic.)
The only TV show I can think of which really did justice to the superhero concept was Buffy. Power and responsibility? Check. In fact, Giles pretty much gave the “with great power comes great responsibility” speech in a dozen episodes. Personal life in conflict with heroism? Check. Confronting evil? Not just your former best friend who’s now gone off the rails, but evil that would have been there anyway? Check. Thinking about it, what Buffy had that a lot of these other shows and films feel as though they lack is actual heroism, and a serious examination of what heroism means. I don’t get that from Heroes, at least not so far. I get a lot of babble about evolution, and a lot of scenes where hot chicks kill guys but it’s not their fault, or the guys deserved it.