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Author Topic: Academics on Superman  (Read 3111 times)
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Supermanica Council
Council of Wisdom
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« on: September 28, 2006, 12:57:39 PM »

Awhile back, the Chinese magazine "That's Beijing!" interviewed a trio of academics about Superman in advance of the new movie.

Their responses have now been collected in completed form by Gene Kannenberg on his blog.

Very interesting stuff with lots of history and insights into the "myth" of Superman.

1. Pete Coogan, author of "Superhero:The Secret Origins of a Genre"

2. Ian Gordon

3. Gene Kannenberg

Everything you ever wanted to
know about the classic Superman:
The Encyclopedia of Supermanic Biography!
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Council of Wisdom
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2006, 03:28:40 PM »

Quote from: "Pete Coogan"
Additionally, Superman, or the superhero in general, stands as a metaphor for America's position in the post-Cold War world. Superheroes embody a vision of the use of power unique to America. Superheroes enforce their own visions of right and wrong on others, and they possess overwhelming power, especially in relation to ordinary crooks. They can project power without danger to themselves, and they can effortlessly solve problems that the ordinary authorities cannot handle.

It's interesting how superheroes seem to be such a peculiarly American phenomenon, and the idea that they are the personification of a peculiarly American outlook on how to use power is interesting and not suprising. Their great power is ultimately benificent because they're the GOOD guys that have a very unique role and purpose.

There was an interview with Steve Englehart in the late seventies where someone asked him if he believed Batman was a fascist. Stainless's response was something along the lines of, "Batman's not a fascist...Batman's RIGHT!" Which fit Steve Englehart's view of Batman being a sane man in an insane world, a view that in and of itself is very American.

When mentioning superheroes around the world, he didn't make mention of the Philippines, however, which would really benefit his case of superheroes as being an imported extension of the American way of looking at ourselves; the Philippines after all, was a former American colony and it happens to be where superheroes are really big, just like imported American baseball is the sport of choice for Japan, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.

By the way, I love the loaded question expressed here to Ian Gordon:

Quote from: "Interviewer"
Why do you think Chinese superheroes are historical (eg. Song Dynasty's Yue Fei) or are figures from legends (eg. Sun Wukong from Journey to the West), while American superheroes from the 40s and 50s come from science fiction or fantasy?

Do the Chinese really think of their own historical/mythic characters as being similar to American superhero characters?

"Wait, a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
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Superman Family
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2006, 07:59:03 PM »

Quote from: "JulianPerez"
There was an interview with Steve Englehart in the late seventies where someone asked him if he believed Batman was a fascist. Stainless's response was something along the lines of, "Batman's not a fascist...Batman's RIGHT!"

Yeah, yeah, that's what they all say.

But most versions of Bats are pretty low on the fascism scale. He may punch people out or break into their houses, but he rarely if ever causes anyone permanent harm, and even locking them up he leaves to the police.

Actually, I imagine an alternate universe Batman who pretends to be a crimefighter but actually goes around sabotaging competitors or others who get in the way of Bruce Wayne's business interests. That, in my view, would mirror American behavior in the cold war (or the war on drugs, or the war on ter-rists, or whatever the next war will be....)

As for non-American superheroes, I'd say quite a few Japanese characters ought to qualify. Sailor Moon comes to mind.
Super Monkey
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2006, 09:38:50 PM »

non-American SUPER-heroes

"I loved Super-Monkey; always wanted to do something with him but it never happened."
- Elliot S! Maggin
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