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Superhero films

Page history last edited by Cher McDonald 2 years, 2 months ago

The Batman EffectComic book Hero Films and American History

American comics are primary resources that reflect the politics and social concerns of a particular moment in time. Created by the authors and illustrators of DC Comics, superhero comics came about in the late 1930’s, during a precarious time in American history. Reeling from the financial devastation of the Great Depression and fearing the growing threat of a worldwide war, US citizens welcomed the entertaining antics of biggerthan-life characters who dared to look evil right in the eye – and defeat it. The early DC Comics superheroes of the late 1930’s and 1940’s battled the devils of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and an invading Japan. When not battling warring nations, the superheroes of DC Comics were busy saving imperiled citizens and fighting crime here on the home front. These characters gave Americans a distraction during desperate times; they offered readers inspiration and served as models for coping with adversity.


The comics continue to shadow American society’s challenges in the new millennium. After 9/11, Congress passed the PATRIOT Act, which authorized US surveillance of its citizens. Many Americans bristled at this law, feeling it was an invasion of privacy. In an obvious parallel in 2007, DC Comics superhero Captain America pushed back against a law that he felt was an abuse of basic civil liberties– the Superhero Registration Act, which required all superheroes to register their secret identities. The parallels between Captain America’s disenchantment with an overzealous government and the American public’s outrage at government overreach in a post 9/11 world are very clear.


Respond to the following questions in a 1-page, double-spaced response submitted via Canvas.

Analyze the movie you watch and answer the following for the main character(s) of the film


Brief introductory paragraph:

1. Alter ego/occupation – Who is the hero when not fighting crime? What does your superhero’s alter ego do for a living?

2. Powers / Abilities – what special gifts does your superhero possess?

3. Origin story – What is your superhero’s back-story? What led him or her to become the crime-fighting crusader that he or she is? (you will probably have to look this up)

4. Are people of color represented in the story? Are they part of the good guys or the bad guys?


Most of the focus of the essay should be on the following in 3 questions:

5. How does your superhero represent the history of the decade in which they were first created/written in?

6. In the movie that you watched, who is the enemy? Is that enemy different from the traditional enemies your superhero typically fights?

7. Is this movie a reflection of current American society and/or politics? Why or why not?



Films that fit the criteria for the assignment:  This is only meant to be a list of possible films, there are certainly others that would do just as well, or better.  This list of films are NOT recommended by me and you should choose one that you are comfortable watching, with appropriate content and rating.


  • Superman, 1978
  • Batman & Robin, 1997
  • X-Men, 2000 
  • Spiderman, 2002
  • Batman Begins, 2005
  • V for Vendetta, 2006
  • Iron Man, 2008
  • The Dark Knight, 2008
  • Hancock, 2008
  • Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011
  • The Amazing Spider-Man, 2012
  • The Avengers, 2012
  • Man of Steel, 2013
  • Captain America: Civil War, 2016
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2016
  • Wonder Woman, 2017 
  • Spiderman Homecoming, 2017 
  • Black Panther, 2018 

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