I was a big Spider-Man fan growing up. Peter Parker was always portrayed as a good kid who had greatness thrust up him. He did his best to help others and that usually meant sacrificing his personal happiness. The one big time he indulged his personal agenda led to the death of his uncle. In the recent crop of super heroes movies, this attitude is best exhibited in Captain America: The First Avenger. Steve Rogers pushes himself not for his own glory, but to serve others. The heroic nature of the super hero was due to willingness to sacrifice.
In a recent episode of Marvel’s Agent Carter I recognized a switch which I hope doesn’t become prevalent, but I have a suspicion that it is and I have failed to notice it. It appears that Agent Carter becomes the super agent that she is not because of a desire to serve, but as the ultimate expression of herself. It is what she is “meant to do.”
I’ve always seen super heroes as what we strived to be. So while Spider-man and Captain America pointed us to service and self-sacrifice; Agent Carter points us to self-actualization. One view points us toward vocation the other self.