The Age of Superheroes

The incredibly successful Marvel Studios has contributed nearly twenty box-office-topping films to the modern age of superheroes.

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The incredibly successful Marvel Studios has contributed nearly twenty box-office-topping films to the modern age of superheroes.

Caitlyn Truong, Photojournalist

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Moviegoers excitedly flock to the cinema for a number of reasons: to munch on buttery popcorn, to experience surround sound speakers, and most commonly, to watch the newest action packed superhero movie. Superhero films and works have always been a common theme throughout the centuries. In the recent years, however, superhero movies and franchises have dominated the box office. Why does everyone, in one way or another, find themselves watching characters fly around in capes and save the world?

While physical film may be a newer innovation, stories relating to heroes have historically always been abundant. Nearly the entirety of ancient Greek mythology, for example, is composed of heroic tales, from the twelve feats of Hercules to the defiance of Psyche to the strength of Theseus. Ancient Greek and Roman mythology and stories were told primarily to communicate morals and promote worship to the gods in order to achieve greatness similar to their heroes.

Heroes can extend to any ordinary figure who is selfless and courageous. Superheroes, specifically, are regarded as beings with enhanced physical capabilities protecting masses of people. The most famous superhero who comes to anyone’s mind is Superman, the Man of Steel with freeze breath, flying abilities, super strength, and more. Superman has appeared in countless forms portrayed by numerous different actors. Most superheroes are based on DC comics or Marvel comics created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. DC comics include Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more; Marvel comics are attributed with Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and more.

At a more contemporary viewpoint, the modern age of superheroes arguably began at the very beginning of the twenty-first century with Fox’s release of X-Men in 2000. In 2002, Sony released Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire. Fantastic Four began in 2005, and Iron Man was released in 2008 by Marvel Studios. While largely criticized in their day, these comic book based films quickly became fan favorites for years to come.

These franchises have expanded beyond prediction, with over eight movies in the X-Men series and nearly twenty movies under the extremely successful Marvel Studios. Marvel Studios’ latest film is Avengers: Infinity War, a movie combining over fifteen major heroes and eighteen movies into one jammed pack story which has already beaten Star Wars: The Force Awakens for largest opening weekend.

The success and popularity of superhero films may be explained by a number of reasons. Perhaps comic-book fans enjoy a tangible, dramatic portrayal of their favorite heroes, or perhaps envisioning a world where ordinary people can be given extraordinary superpowers is simply entertaining. Watching good overcome evil is always satisfying, and the addition of an upbeat soundtrack and witty quips only increase appeal. Jessica Miyahira (10), an avid Marvel fan, comments, “I love superhero movies because watching goofy, relatable characters defeat their enemies with these amazing powers will never fail to be fun and entertaining.” While every person’s reason for watching these films may vary, at the end of it all, superhero movies have certainly reached a prime age in the twenty-first century.

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