Exploring the Morals behind Vigilante Archetypes

The vigilante archetype in superhero movies push the boundaries of societal rules and morality. Last year, audiences were treated to the release of Marvel’s Venom, Deadpool 2, and DC’s Arrow season 7, and these all have strong vigilante archetypes. These characters regularly circumvent the rules to enforce their own type of laws in the name of justice. But does rectifying violence with more violence solve anything? Does bypassing the local law enforcement when they fail to protect the city make a hero? When an antihero blurs the line between good and evil, serving their own form of justice, where do audiences stop and say “this isn’t heroic anymore.”? Characters to analyze could include (from both Marvel and DC respectively): Venom, Batman, Green Arrow, The Punisher, Deadpool, Wolverine, etc. The article could explore: what makes an antihero, what makes a vigilante, and where heroics breech the boundary of evildoing.

  • This is a good topic. However, I would clarify differences between what is violent, what can be seen as martial arts, etc. – Yvonne T. 3 years ago
  • Very good idea Yvonne T.! Writers could analyze the MPAA rating system (and other motion picture systems) and create a violence rating scale to differentiate what is and isn’t acceptable. Good determining factors could include: whether the violent act only maims or actually kills, whether it was a kick or punch verses a firearm or other weapon, and how much collateral damage was involved in the process. I agree, there is a definite difference between martial arts and other types of violence. However, martial arts did originate to damage opponents in combat, and that type of violence is still violence, although how it’s depicted on screen does matter. There are many scenes in Deadpool 1 and 2, as well as Venom, that could be analyzed concerning depictions of martial arts related violence, and these different levels could be evaluated as well. – M. L. Flood 3 years ago
  • Does the audience stop and say, "this isn't heroic anymore?" Usually, it seems these characters evolve (some a little, others more). So do audiences change their feelings as a story develops? – Joseph Cernik 3 years ago

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