Your comment brings up a question: when did Good v Evil stories with the Good Guys Winning actually start (at least in the western tradition)?
The bible and the myths ancient Greeks & Romans (and the plays of the Classical Greeks & Romans) are filled with not quite good people doing sometimes good things – but often not – and sometimes winning – but often losing. Fast forwarding the Shakespeare, you see the same pattern. In the fairy tale genre, Red Ridding Hood comes close to pure Good beating Evil, but ‘the lumberjack’ is more of the deus ex machina and in any case not a ‘main’ character. (and the rest of the Greater Grimm Metro Area collection is a very mixed bag for clearly defined Good and Evil)
Some of the answers we came up with after the cut… but leave your answer in comments!
Trumwill’s guess was:
I wonder to what extent this is an American thing? American optimism and such? I don’t consume a whole lot from elsewhere.
I’d go back to the Victorian Era. When children stopped dying when you looked at them the wrong way, suddenly, you could stop telling cautionary stories to children (don’t talk to strangers or you’ll die, don’t touch other people’s stuff or you’ll die, don’t get lost in the forest or you’ll die, don’t go above your station or you’ll die), you realized that you could (indeed, had to) start telling stories that had moral lessons above and beyond the “thou shalt nots”.
For that, you needed beatitudes. “Do this and you will get rewarded thusly.”
Much more uplifting. Indeed, they sold like hotcakes.
You can’t discount the Christ story, since he’s the archetype for Supes himself. Prior to the New Testament, even the best of the best and the biggest and baddest (Moses, David, Samson) screwed up royally, and paid dearly.
Are we on to something?
Spitball a guess in the comments. Or, hey, treat it like an open thread.