The Marvel and DC cinematic universes have created superheroes that benefitted from the US military industrial complex then turned their backs on it. Captain America became a hero from the Army’s super soldier serum in The First Avenger then rejected surveillance overreach by government agencies in The Winter Soldier. Iron Man inherited a vast fortune from Stark Industry’s weapons development then restructured the company to clean energy development at the end of the first movie. Batman’s endless array of tech toys originated as US military prototypes of Wayne tech repurposed for war on Gotham’s crime. Nonetheless, super heroic courage, genius intellect, and god like powers are always depicted preserving the status quo (late stage capitalism with grossly corrupt governments protecting global income inequality as the earth burns) and actively combatting those who strive to fix such problems. For example, Thanos aims to eradicate overpopulation and Killmonger plots to undermine white global dominance by destroying US and NATO military superiority. What can we make of this ambiguity in superhero comics and movies?
I think it would also be interesting to explore what Superman and Batman represent. Admittedly, I'm not very involved in the lore, but much has been made about Bruce Wayne being a wealthy man who, besides fighting supervillians, also stops people who do petty crimes who obviously are way more economically disadvantaged than him. – Emily Deibler4 months ago
Yes exactly! Superman on the other hand has the power to shut down the 100 companies producing 70% of the carbon emissions leading to climate destruction but settles for foiling jewel heists and working as a reporter – Will Nolen4 months ago
Also, we should add Batman's obsession with surveillance and information collection...If I were to tackle this topic, I would definitely bring up Robert Kirkman's Invincible, where the main character is constantly confronted with this ambiguous dichotomy. – kpfong834 months ago
Absolutely kpfong83! Batman's surveillance and his schemes to betray each of his allies "just in case" all echo American foreign policies even with fellow NATO members (as I recall in 2015 the NSA got busted for wire tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel).
– Will Nolen4 months ago
I feel like this is really a question about what's good for individual people vs. some theoretical "greater good." Superheroes like Batman and Superman, from my admittedly limited understanding, seem like what they want is to keep "the peace" by ensuring a relatively stable society in which most people can live normal lives, even if it might leave some members of that society vulnerable in certain respects. Meanwhile, the bad guys you mention have big dreams and big ideas about how to remake the world, but the only way to accomplish these goals is to cause a lot of personal suffering, even to the people they're supposedly trying to help. – Debs4 months ago
I think that you might be right Debs but this superheroic pro-status quo perspective is quite limited in that the definition of who benefits from that "relatively stable society" does NOT include a huge portion of the global population (e.g. the 99% of the population in developing countries, the poor and other disenfranchised in the developed countries- PoC, LGBTQ, poor, etc.). So these superheoes end up reflecting the pov of the ruling elites and their beneficiaries which might explain why many superheroes tend to be white males from middle and upper class backgrounds
– Will Nolen4 months ago
Since the early 2000s, the superhero genre has saturated our screens with no intention of slowing down. And I wonder why this is. Why are Marvel and DC superhero movies the front runners in the current cycle of action cinema? What might be the cultural conditions which boosted the popularity of this genre? Is it simply a matter of evolved special effects adding a more realistic spectacle to the narrative, or does our love of superheroes expose a wider cultural anxiety about the need for national protection (an after-effect of 9/11, perhaps)?
I've always wondered this myself. A great source for this piece would be Robert Kirkman's Secret History of Comics, because viewers see just where these superheroes came from and how they affected society at that time and continue to do so now. Everyone wanted to BE Superman or HAVE a Superman. Marvel comics took a step forward from black-and-white "bad guys" to villains with complex backstories and motivations. I believe that the heart of superheroes continues to be so relevant and prevalent nowadays because we still have that yearning to see good triumph over evil, as well as see these comic book characters come to life. – EJSmall5 months ago
On top of all the factors which you have mentioned, part of me (the optimistic side) believes that the superheroes genre provides a fertile ground for experimentation especially with diversity. Though it is not perfect, superheroes movies tend to make an effort to be inclusive with diverse casts and I believe, rightly or wrongly, that it has contributed to the success and appeal of the cycle of those movies. – kpfong835 months ago
Breakdown and analyse what makes super heroes tick and how they are an inspiration to us mortals. What are philosophical elements behind their characterisation and actions that appeal to an audience? Despite having unearthly abilities, humane qualities of superheroes are what makes them relatable to us. What are the psychological elements their creators have embedded in the stories that help us navigate our own challenges the way these characters do in comics, TV and film?
I think this is a notable and wonderful topic to look at. Why? because while we may feel limited in many physical aspects of our lives, we identify with a superhero in each of us whose imagination and mind has no limits. We are superheroes trapped in physical bodies and whom we identify with is perhaps where we feel the most limited. Superheroes hurl that limitation out the window for us! They are a wonderful way for us to channel our inner strength, power and courage. They provide an identity for us more in line with the truth and for this reason, I love this topic. – MinGHathorn9 months ago
When it comes to things like superheroes like Superman, the Hulk, Iron Man, or Batman, everyone has an idea of their origin stories. But as the superhero movie franchise only continues to barrel forward, how important is it for writers to include an accurate recount of the superhero origins for new viewers? Or does it matter at all?
It matters to an extent. The idea of an adaptation is to provide a new interpretation to something pre-existing. You don't want the filmmakers to exactly follow the comics or else it would be boring. It has to be suitable so it can be translated to screen for a general film audience – cbo10942 years ago
I think to a certain degree people stop caring about the origin story since for some heroes its such commonly treaded ground that its basically mud the next time a reboot rolls around. Spiderman Homecoming skipped it completely keeping the movie fresh and exciting. Of course as an introduction for new viewers it might leave them in the dark, but if you value yourself as a writer you should be able to help ease new viewers in with slight exposition rather than pulling a BVS and shoving it in in the first 2 minutes as a dream sequence. – AMedina2 years ago
As an introvert, I can’t help but think about my hidden talents and gifts. And as an advent comic book reader I couldn’t help to review old comics like Jean Grey from X-men, The Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, and Batman. I’m sure I’m missing quite a few other heroes, but the connections are there and could be analzyed a bit further. For instance, how introverted superheroes are extremely sensitive, intelleigent, powerful, and, potentially, deadly beings/mutants. These superheroes can also encourage people who don’t necessarily enjoy being social that they can explore and utilize their gifts and/or talents and should contribute these ‘powers’ to the greater society.
An extremely interesting topic. It's intriguing to wonder how a hero can be quite introverted, and have a greater effect on the surrounding world as well. It's a point to make that introverted characters may have extroverted personas, kind of like mask or 'another identity' that masks their inner one. Could make them ambiverts or really great actors. I'd want to explore the dynamics of lesser-known heroes as well. – HollyDavidson3 years ago
Essentially, most superheroes are introverts in their public lives in order for them to be able to maintain a balance between their multiple roles. A good topic which would make for an interesting read. – Vishnu Unnithan3 years ago
Comic books, back in the day, were the dose of tiger balm to the congested chest. They were painful narratives that made us think, that put our problems into the perspectives of a false world so a hero could show us they can be solved and the villains of our lives vanquished. Unfortunately, the solutions are solely on the page or on the screen, now with the Netflix series’ of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage, but does that erase the effect they have on us as viewers and readers?
Do the shows take some issues too far? Present them too blatantly or too straight-forward for escapism?
Are they too real and too relevant? Or exactly what we need?
Something else to consider would be whether or not the intention of comic books is still escapism. As entertainment becomes increasingly politicized, the escapism aspect may sit on a balance with a desire to provide political commentary. If you wanted to do that more broadly, too, you could look at the balance of escapism and commentary in modern comic books or their adaptations (like Daredevil/Jessica Jones/Luke Cage), which I feel like is what you might be trying to do.There's an excellent article about Ta-Nehisi Coates discussing his run of Black Panther which touches on this --> http://kotaku.com/ta-nehisi-coates-is-trying-to-do-right-by-marvel-comics-1769418783 – Sadie Britton3 years ago
I think the subjective nature social consciousness makes this a hard question to answer. Comics have always run the gamut from utterly ridiculous to uncomfortably real but a lot of that is in the personal interpretation. Most comics aren't going to be as clear in their messaging as Captain America punching Hitler in the face. The X-Men arose as an allegory for the Civil Rights movement but not every white comic reader in the 60s was thinking "I see, this is like how we treat black people". However black comic readers may have connected with the story in a different way. Jessica Jones and Luke Cage both seemed overtly political but technically were recreations of plot lines that were decades old. When Brock Turner is making headlines, Jessica's inability to consent holds more weight. When Black Lives Matter plays a large part in the political sphere, a bulletproof black guy (in a hoodie) holds more weight. Your environment and your gender/racial/sexual identity change whether you view it as a nice work of fiction or a very political one. – LC Morisset3 years ago
Superman arose in comics in the aftermath of The Great Depression. Captain America was designed to fight Hitler. The X-Men were a brilliant allegory to the Civil Rights Movement. Comic book superheroes were created or rose in prominence when readers saw them fighting their enemies or representing and overcoming their struggles. Although the last 10 years haven’t featured any crises of that scale, superheroes have dominated our media. Has the stigma of comic books simply elapsed and everyone can be a nerd in the mainstream or does the rise of superhero media indicative of a country looking to be distracted?
i don't understand this topic. how is entertainment different from escapism? which represents the way that comics can operate as allegorical or literal consideration of big issues? why does the topic's author claim "the last 10 years haven’t featured any crises of that scale"? how about the global financial crisis / the great recession? how is the rising acceptability of comic books/nerd culture opposed to a society "looking to be distracted"? and again, if the two are indeed in opposition, which is "entertainment" and which is "escapism"? it seems the whole topic is premised on a false dichotomy and an irrelevant preamble. – Richard Marcil3 years ago
I would examine the superheroes & see what aspects of society they represent and check to see how they have transformed in pop culture over the years – BMartin433 years ago
I like the idea you have going. I wouldn't say that the last 10 years haven't featured any crises on that scale though. – Bfitts3 years ago
It's an interesting idea you have going, but I think you should explain your theory more, – shazia3 years ago
Losing a loved one is a life-changing event. In comics, it’s common that the death of a parental figure is the catalyst for becoming a superhero. Batman, Spiderman, and Daredevil are just a few examples. Is there a reason that this plot point continues to be reused? Has it become overused, or is it just an accurate representation of the extremes to which the death of a loved one can push you? (Obviously, we don’t tend to become superheroes, but I’m speaking metaphorically.)
Batman is the only one who has no inherent powers, and was truly driven to that point by the death of his parents.It would also be interesting to see how many villains have this origin, and were driven to deplorable acts by the death of a loved one. – Tarben4 years ago
Explore the relationship between physical/mental/emotional disabilities and powers in superhero history. How and when does a disability create the parameters for the hero’s powers. To further this argument, delve into the role of personifying disabilities as strengths and what effect does that have on those who read comics but live with those disabilities?
Simple examples – Daredevil’s skill set is dependent on his blindness. Whereas Hawkeye’s deafness does not necessarily create the parameters for his abilities. What are the differences to these approaches?
Barbara Gordon/Oracle could also be discussed. – Emily Deibler4 years ago
Sometimes disability is addressed negatively as in the person had a physical limitation or a loved one had a limitation and getting the person healed was a motivation to discover an antidote for the physical challenge. But maybe your take sounds different from what I am writing about here. – Munjeera4 years ago
It's how the character deals and struggles with their disability. In spite of their shortcomings they prove that with resolve and determination anything can be overcome. – RadosianStar4 years ago
While there are an ever-increasing amount of female readers/fans in the world of comics and superheroes, there also seems to be a never-ending supply of chauvinist fans who respond to titles such as Ms. Marvel or Batgirl with hostility, often using such charming phrases as "what is this feminist bullshit?" to describe their feelings. In a medium already hyper masculinized what does this behaviour suggest about comics fandom and its audience?
Maybe also mention attitude toward female cosplayers, creators, and characters.