I recently watch Marvel’s latest Avengers: Endgame with my friends. I like the storyline, and all the action sequences, above all Marvel’s characters, are grouped up in this movie. We all know that the Endgame is the last movie of its Avenger’s franchise, and it is evident pretty much in every scene of the film. Many lead characters are now dead or getting old, which gave us the impression that the future marvel world will now be in the hands of new generations of heroes. However, I am not writing this article to provide you with my reflections about the Endgame movie. Instead, I observed people’s reactions during the end credits of the film. Everybody was like crying or waiting for the post-credits clip, usually included in the MCU movies since 2008. The audience’s emotional behaviour made me read some researchers and ask why we get so attached to the movie’s fictional characters?
The media psychologist Karen-Dill Shackleford, PhD, believes that more casual fans might think it’s strange to be attached to fictional characters. However, basically, it’s completely natural to have such an emotional bond with the fictional characters.
She highlighted that storytelling is a medium through which a narrator touch upon such ideas that are important to general people, makes them connected to a story and its characters. That’s why people often might have even felt more empathy for an account and the aspects involved in the story who do such things that we usually do in our daily lives.
According to Dr Dill-Shackleford, this phenomenon of our relationships to fictional characters is called Para-social Relationships, or one-sided relationships with the media they watch and hear. Although a character can’t talk back to them, it engages people and makes them sense the emotion going on in the movie. The feeling of attachments become so real to some people that it starts bringing them joy or cheer them up after a rough day. This feeling of affection could be a sign that you’re capable of a lot of empathy.
There is not much hard science out there that explain why some people tend to be highly passionate fans while others are more casual. Researcher Debra Kissen, PhD, a member of the ADAA, believes it might have something to do with how deeply we probe into things in our lives in general. She asserted that ‘people who have more of a tendency to dig deep into things might have more of a tendency to be experts and dive deep while others take more of a wide view’. That attachment and para-social relationship can also happen with celebrities, who, in a way, are arguably fictional characters to us: We know the image they present in public, which may or may not 100% align with who they really are, and we guess at the rest.
So, it’s expected to be highly attached to a fictional character or a celebrity, so long as it doesn’t become an obsession that takes over your life. Anything in the extreme is hazardous to health and life, including feeling and emotions 🙂