Ultimately, Alejandro González Iñarritu is right. There are incredible people doing unfathomable things, for real, every day in this world. It’s at the same time an amazing anomaly and as common as mail service or taxes — and those people, doing what they can to survive and thrive, are the real superheroes of our world. They are the ones tangibly making a difference, and they are the closest thing to the fabricated heroes we adore that we actually have in this wild life. When you break that down, it makes sense as to why the writer-director is more interested in centering the lives of those who make real differences, even if it’s just in their own lives and the lives of those close to them: because that’s where real-life superpowers lie.
That said, Iñarritu’s “Birdman” doesn’t entirely shy away from superhero conventions. Obviously, Michael Keaton’s leading man has a past as a superhero actor (wink wink, nudge nudge), but the “Revenant” director’s choice to have his character play with superpowers — and whether or not they are simply born of the mind, a concept that comes into play with power-less heroes like Bruce Wayne’s Batman — is one that stems not from a distaste for the heroes that have them, but from the very inquiry into regular people that he mentioned to Variety.
The meshing of the real and imaginary in “Birdman” is key to the core of its plot and greater emotional life, and without both elements, Iñarritu would’ve failed at the very thing his film succeeds in: showing us that real superheroes, unsuspecting people doing their best to wrestle with the juggernaut of life, will always be among us.