Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society

Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society

Danny Fingeroth

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 0826415407

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Why are so many of the superhero myths tied up with loss, often violent, of parents or parental figures? What is the significance of the dual identity? What makes some superhuman figures "good" and others "evil"? Why are so many of the prime superheroes white and male? How has the superhero evolved over the course of the 20th and early 21st centuries? And how might the myths be changing? Why is it that the key superhero archetypes - Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, the X-Men - touch primal needs and experiences in everyone? Why has the superhero moved beyond the pages of comics into other media? All these topics, and more, are covered in this lively and original exploration of the reasons why the superhero - in comic books, films, and TV - is such a potent myth for our times and culture.

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notes: "Walter Baumhofer, Doc's first and foremost cover artist, was requested to make the Man of Bronze resemble Clark Gable as much as possible." Again, the influence of movies on the creation of a popular fictional character who would in part inspire another, to-be­ more-famous character is seen. "The source for the essence of Superman and his development," con­ tinues Steranko, "was influenced by Philip Wylie's striking novel, Glad­ iator. Published in 1930, it served as a blueprint for

traumatic, science-based calamity. These are the heroes, of course, of the Batman school. Besides the trau­ matized Bruce Wayne, they include Daredevil, the Punisher, Elektra, Wolverine, and, second in significance only to Batman himself, the In­ credible Hulk. What makes Batman so different from Superman is that his character is formed by confronting a world that refuses to make sense . . . madness is a part of Batman's special identity, and [his] obsessive character links him with his enemies

to the non­ ironic, straight-ahead portrayal of these characters. Today, even "mainstream" superhero comics are veined with decon­ struction and revision or, at the least, massive doses of irony. Yet these very elements help keep the medium from a renewal of mass accept­ ance. It's a tough nut to crack. It's like going to a high-school reunion where everyone expects you to be just a grayer, slightly paunchy version of who you were decades before. You can't do that-why would you want to? People

Lantern, 14, 60, 103, 120 Grotuu, 123 Gunsmoke, 33 H Hammett, Dashiell, 43 Happy Days, 142 Hardy Boys, 143 Harry Potter, 101, 111, 140 Harry Potter (books and films), 110, 112, 116 Hawkgirl, 60, 103 I N D EX 1 88 Hearst, William Randolph, 42 Hercules, 24 Hercules (series), 93 "Hero Guy" (Sesame Street), 169 Hero with a Thousand Faces, The (Campbell), 38 Hitler, Adolf, 19, 29, 166 Howard, Leslie, 49 Hulk (animated series), 127 Hulk (film), 124 Hulk, the, 19, 113, 119, 121 -27, 129, 130, 132,

relatives grow older­ even die, eventually-but the superheroes are always there. If they age at all, it's extraordinarily slowly. We learn and grow-we change from - experience. For the most part, serialized fictional characters do not. This is at once a great strength and a terrific weakness for them. A great story can be defined as a story in which characters come into conflict-physical or psychic-and through dealing with that conflict grow and change. Ishmael is a different character at the

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