Despite belonging in the same category of the hero archetype, both Beowulf and Sir Gawain lack certain aspects that explain the foundation of superheroes in today's comic books and movies; for Beowulf, relatable humanlike attributes and Sir Gawain, superhuman strength. However, when both poems are put together, they each provide extremely important building blocks in establishing the superheroes we identify with today, one who possesses unnatural power, and who is empathetic and selflessly opposes evil. With Beowulf providing the building blocks for superhuman power, and Sir Gawain the human qualities of the hero, as well as both works reinforcing the importance of villains, the modern conception of superheroes, particularly Spiderman, is born.
Strength is without a doubt one of the most important foundations that the heroes of epic sagas and the modern equivalent of super heroes are built around. Although Beowulf proclaims his mighty strength and unshaken bravery in his recollection of his sea adventure where he defeat nine sea-monsters during his swimming race against Breca (Heaney 529-81), he backs his claim by personally demonstrating his strength during Grendel's attack, .
The captain of evil discovered himself .
in a handgrip harder than anything .
he had ever encountered in any man.
on the face of the earth. Every bone in his body.
quailed and recoiled, but he could not escape (Heaney 749-53).
Here, the author uses a strong description that allows the audience to grasp the degree of Beowulf's monstrous strength. He is not one of the strongest men-he is the strongest man on the face of the earth that Grendel has ever encountered. This image of a giant monster unable to shake a man off resembles our image of modern day superheroes with their abnormal strength. Spiderman, as we know from the movies and the comic books, obtains his superhuman power from a genetically engineered spider. We first see him demonstrating his strength against Mary Jane's boyfriend, where he easily dodged the onslaught of punches and ended the fight by gripping onto the bully's wrist and knocking him out with a single punch (Raimi 2002).