About a year ago, Cameron Bennett’s dream of becoming a real-life comic-book hero came true. On his way to see the local premiere of Get Out at the AMC Palace 9 with some friends, the Texas Wesleyan student wound up rescuing a man and a woman from the wreckage of an overturned car.
“Honestly, I didn’t really think about it,” Bennett said. “My body just moved on its own, and by the time I knew what was going on, I was already at the car pulling people out of it.”
The then-sophomore criminal justice major became a superhero through selflessness rather than acquiring superpowers.
“I never thought something like this would happen because you don’t hear about regular people, who aren’t already famous, doing things that superheroes do,” Bennett said. “If I have the power to take action, I have the responsibility to do so.”
After the accident, Bennett began thinking more about others and their various struggles. From there, he combined his passion for superheroes with his desire to give back by volunteering. That’s when he began dressing like his favorite Marvel Comics character, Spider-Man, and volunteering at schools and children’s hospitals to both entertain and inspire.
“Cameron Bennett is the living embodiment of a superhero,” said Eddy Lynton, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at Wesleyan.
Cary Adkinson, who shares a comic book-themed office with Lynton, said he’s had several discussions with Bennett about everything from their mutual interest in comic books to more complex issues such as the lasting long-term effects of bullying. While walking out of his dorm room the other day, Bennett explained that his love of comic books and desire to be a superhero himself may stem from his fair share of run-ins with bullies in high school.
“I’ve always had a love for superheroes,” Bennett said. “Reading comics and seeing different superheroes overcome bullies gave me the encouragement to be like them.”
Bennett said superheroes do more than just go around punching bad guys. Sometimes a hero does something like go to a “doughnuts with dad” school function dressed like Spider-Man for kids who may not have a father figure.
“It makes me happy to see the joy it brings to peoples’ faces when they see one of their favorite heroes coming to visit them or just talk to them,” Bennett said.
Bennett, Adkinson said, “embodies everything we hope all our students do in terms of realizing they should be obligated to help others.”
Bennett plans to continue volunteering. “After the incident, donning the suit felt more like symbolism for myself and for those who knew what I did,” he said. “The symbol that I become for people when I’m in the suit is was one of tenacity and courage.”
While he’s studying criminal justice, he eventually wants to work directly for Marvel as the first actor of color to play Spider-Man onscreen. Just like in the comics.