Many of the stories you still see today are inspired directly and indirectly from various myths. For the 2015 A-Z Challenge, I'm going to share mythology from all over the world - myths that are familiar and obscure.
Beowulf is an Old English epic poem, but it's author is still a mystery. Scholars believe it was written between 700-1000 A.D. Most of the superhero elements you see in comic books can be traced right back to Beowulf, the hero of the Geats.
In the poem, Beowulf helps the King of the Danes, Hrothgar, defend his people against a horrible creature called Grendel. Grendel is supposed to be a descendent of Cain, and he's an ugly trollish looking monster. I guess Hrothgar and his soldiers are partying too loudly, and Grendel comes to shut them up by eating them.
Beowulf arrives to help out King Hrothgar, and in his first fight with Grendel, he rips the monster's
Beowulf and his men go after Grendel's Mommy, but our hero is dragged under the lake where she seemingly is beating Beowulf. He grabs an enchanted sword, cuts off her head, and then find Grendel where he beheads him too.
After a big party, Beowulf goes home and eventually becomes king. His kingdom is threatened by a powerful dragon. King Beowulf defeats the beast, but he's mortally wounded. He eventually dies from his injuries, and his people mourn their king and their greatest hero.
Despite this epic poem being over 1000 years old, readers are still attracted to fantastic stories of heroes defeating villains. Of good overcoming evil. Of larger than life characters sacrificing their lives for the good of their people.