Hero - A person who is admired for their noble and courageous qualities, usually at the benefit of others.
Before you get going on on how people should look up to real heroes, you need to chill out. Right now anyone who is labeled a hero is quickly praised, processed, and/or penalized. In our 24/7 world, the person we praise today, is often forgotten or scorned tomorrow. We rarely have figures in our culture who endure a time-tested examples of being true heroes. Politicians are out because they are prone to the brutally cynic nature of politics these days. Any athlete that is well known enough to a massive hero, probably got there because his corporate sponsorship team put him there. Technology figures like Steve Jobs, who are praised for their innovation are quickly lambasted for their relentless drive. I think everyone can agree that we love to look for chinks in the armor, hell it's almost a national pastime. If only we could have heroes that can't be corrupted (or be free from skeletons in the closet).
That's where the superheroes come in. Long before big movie budgets made comic books come to life, I mean, technically way before comics, we had myths about great heroes who we could look to as ideals to strive for. Our current crop of modern heroes is no different. In his spectacular third outing
Ultimately these super-hero films are resonating with a natural longing for the spectacular hero. More than any other factor (actors, directors, budgets, continuity between films) Marvel excels because they recognize that longing for traditional heroes and stories and they provide that. The upcoming Superman film "Man of Steel" looks like it's on the same wavelength as well. So while people may scoff at super-hero films and say they're just to sell toys, they need to realize that they're scoffing not just a history, but at their own longing for something better.