During the height of the New Atheism shout contest Richard Dawkins used to quip that Christianity had reduced the number of gods from hundreds down to one, and he all he wanted to do was go one god further. However, it seems that the current spate of superhero films reveals a hankering to reverse that trend. The same instincts that gave humanity Zeus, Poseidon, Hermes and Pluto, are the same instincts that give us Hulk, Batman, Superman, Antman, Wonder Woman, Black Widow and Black Panther.
Part of this is the hankering for a decent story.
By this view, the world (or let’s use the word ‘universe’ so beloved of the genre) of monotheism is too sterile, too virtuous, too consistent to permit any good stories. However with a pantheon of heroes you can have capricious gods, amoral gods, vengeful gods, strong gods; bound by a noble sense of duty and justice, eager to wreck vengeance on behalf of deceased family members (usually a parent). You can get them attacking each other, finding out if there is anyway that Batman would have a chance against Superman, or if Spiderman’s web was stronger than Captain America’s shield.