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Superhero Films: A Genre Study

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by

Hayley Valeri

on 9 May 2015

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Transcript of Superhero Films: A Genre Study

Summary of Project

- History
- Defining the Heroes
- Defining the Villains
- Icons
- Binary Oppositions and
Major Themes

Background:
1940-1970's
- Superhero movies started out as televisions serials shown before movies in the 1940's.
- Flash Gordon, Captain Marvel, Zoro

- When those died out, superhero movies became non-existent. (Superhero TV shows remained popular)

- 1966 Batman with Adam West carried the genre. (Originally on TV, but then remastered for the theater.
- 1978: Superman featuring Christopher Reeves and Gene Hackman released by Warner Brothers
- Grossed 300.3 Million and was Warner Brothers' highest grossing film to date

- DC Films successfully led the market with films such as Batman.

- Marvel films could not create any franchises, except for Blade in 1998

- Other non DC and Marvel films: The Phantom, Dick Tracy
Background: The Rise of Darkness 2005-2014
- The success of Batman Begins byt Tim Burton (2005) started a trend of darker superhero films.
- V for Vendetta
- Watchman
- Wolverine
- Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008) is now a staple in dark superhero films.
- Man of Steel (2013)
Marvel Universe: 2008-Present
- Marvel released Iron Man in 2008 and surprised a dark market with a funny, witty, movie.
- This lead to other notable films in the Marvel that mimic the Iron Man format.
- Thor (2011)
- Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
- Hulk (2008)

- All of these movies were leading up to what would be the highest grossing superhero film to date.

The Superhero Surge: Early 2000's
- Marvel became a force to be reckoned with with releses such as..
- X-Men (2000)
- Spiderman (2002)
- This created a surge in superhero movies that hasn't slowed down since.
Notable Films
- Spiderman 2
- X-2
- Fantastic 4
- Daredevil

Superhero Films: a Genre study
Background:
1970's - 2000
The Avengers (2012)
- All the previous Marvel movies have led up to The Avengers.

- The Avengers was able to pack so much action into the movies because the backstories of each hero had already been established in previous movies.

- Post-Avenger movies such as Iron Man 3 and Captain America 2 have had great success and Marvel is slated to release The Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015.

- Marvel has done a fantastic job in making superheros a franchise.
Superhero Flops
1. The Green Lantern (2011) lost $90 million
2. War Zone Punisher (2008) Lost over $20 million
3. Howard the Duck (1986) Only made $962,774
Coming Soon to a Theater Near You
- Ant-Man (2015)
- Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
-Wonder Woman (2017)
- Aquaman (2018)
- Captain Marvel (2018)
- Dozens of superhero movies are slated to be released from now to 2020.
Frye's Five Modes of Hero
Elements
Mythic: Thor, Wonder Woman, Hercules

Romantic: Superman, Wolverine

High Memetic: Iron Man, Nick Fury, Captain America

Low Memetic: Spiderman, Batman, Hawkeye, Black Widow

Ironic: The Incredible Hulk, Scott Pilgram

Masks/Costumes
Secret Identity
Mentor
Sidekick
Sexualization of Women
City/NYC
Lair/headquarters
Traumatic event/loss
Training Montage
Pep/Talk Speech
Defining the Villain
"Every villain is a hero in their own mind"

Often connected to the hero in some way
Struggle with internal conflicts that are often relatable
Some are faced with the choice to be good, but choose evil
Have a hand in their own demise
Unwilling to sacrifice (unlike the heroes)
Masks/Costumes
Secret Identity
Mentor
Nick Fury, Agent Colson, Pa Kent, Jor-El, Uncle Ben, Oden, Frigga
Wiser, with more experience.
Sometimes dies (hard on hero)
Sidekick
Robin, Kato
Generally younger, less experienced.
Sexualization of Women
City (NYC)
Lair/headquarters
Training Montage
Allows heros to hone their skills.
Shows their humanity
Pep Talk/ Speech
Usually given by mentor or leader of group.
Inspires others to take action and save the day

Defining the Hero
Binary Oppositions
- Hero/Villain
-Good/Evil
-Individual/Group
-Secret Identity/Real Identity


Willing to Sacrifice: Sacrificing for loved ones verses for the Greater Good
Social Responsibility..."With great power comes great responsibility"
Often "Rise Up" again (the hero's resurrection)
Origins: a question of maturity, destiny, accident/event or decision
Abilities gained through maturity: something in their biology gave them their abilites
Heroes "destined" to gain their abilities are granted them by a higher authority who chooses them based on birthright (or through some twist they have already had them)
Accidental power gains
Normal people who use their resouces for crimefighting
Produced out of struggle, loss, and familial difficulties
Heroes rise up from the tragedy of loss and transcend their circumstances and become a hero.

- Avenger's- Coulson
-Iron Man vs. Captain America : Set up for Civil War

-Clint and Natasha: Romantic tension
Tension of Group/People
Tension of Group/People
-There are different group roles.

-The six identities of an individual
Why Heroes Fight.
- Freedom for greater good.
-The ones they love.
-Humanity
-The people they are next to.
-Themselves
- Rocket Raccoon: "Why would you want to save the galaxy?

Peter Quill: I'm one of the idiots in it.
Outfits
Women Heroes/love interests are examples of the "ideal woman"
Are secondary to the male
However, this is
beginning
to turn around.
Black Widow, Maria Hill

"with great power comes great responsibility"
"you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain"
Full transcript