Allow me to share with you what I have learned from the documentary known as Superheroes Decoded. This show detailed how the superhero genre evolved and how it tied in to the past century of American history. When Superman and Batman were created, they served as symbols of hope in the wake of the Great Depression and the aftermath of World War I. During World War II, Captain America and Wonder Woman served as propaganda pieces and Wonder Woman later became a symbol of the Women’s Rights Movement. To answer the conformity and resulting discontent of the 1950s and 1960s, characters such as Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and the Hulk were created to serve as role models for the youth of that era. When the Civil Rights Movement took place, Black Panther, Falcon, and the X-Men were created to symbolize and empower the persecuted outcasts of that time. During the Vietnam War, Iron Man was created to represent the war profiteers who were enriching themselves during the war while Wolverine was created to symbolize the veterans of the Vietnam War. As crime rates rose in the 1970s, characters such as Luke Cage and the Punisher were created to symbolize the public’s desire for justice against the growing crime wave. In the 1980s and 1990s, a group called Generation X emerged and they were given Deadpool as a role model. The Kamala Khan version of Ms. Marvel was created to battle the Islamophobia that spread through America in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. With each significant event that occurred over the years, the superhero genre continued to evolve to create increasingly more complex superheroes. For the past century, the concept of the superhero became an integral part of modern American mythology like the Olympians were to Ancient Greece. I am thinking of keeping with this tradition and create my own superheroes who best symbolize the times that America is in here and now.


  1. This was really interesting. I always want to read more superhero/graphic novel criticism, especially so if it’s a bit more academic because there doesn’t seem to be much out there, or maybe I just have yet to come across it

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