Proposal: The Rhetoric of Superheroes

Rhetorical Analysis Uncategorized

If you grew up enjoying imagination, there is a good possibility¬†that you pretended to be a superhero at some point in your childhood. There is also a strong chance that you follow the creations from Marvel or DC and if you don’t, I think it is pretty clear that you live under a rock. These two Superhero comic book megacorps have exploded into every aspect of media. You can’t go into a theater, bookshop, or turn on your television without seeing something hero-related. This got me thinking and I had to ask: Why do we need superheroes? Is the ideal of a superhero just for entertainment purposes or do they reach us, as humans, on a deeper level? I think that if we explore the actions and beliefs behind some of our favorite supers, we can reach a new level of understanding about our society.

My knowledge of superheroes, unfortunately, only reaches as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and an almost obsessive following of the DC television shows. I don’t watch many DC movies. I haven’t read any of the comics or novel adaptions but I know a few people who know their way around the comic world. I have a keen interest in looking into the political ramifications of the superheroes. Call me crazy but “Captain America: Civil War” brought up some hot topics and the heroes took some pretty strong stances that ignited¬†a good deal of conversations among the Marvel community. I also would like to look at the progression of superheroes from a feminist point of view. Dangerous waters I know, but I am prepared. I think.

There is a lot to consider for this exploration. I could use this opportunity to have a movie marathon but I doubt that my professors would enjoy me taking time out of the semester. So, I need to come up with a plan of attack. I think I most definitely want to explore the societal impact of superheroes and by doing so I can cover the political and feminist viewpoints. This will also cover the history of Marvel and DC. I can look into some of the ideologies influenced by Superheroes and what archetypes have spurred from the phenomenon.

I found some starting sources:

  1. This article will give me an idea of the “American Mythology” behind supers and what impact they have on America.

Why America loves superheroes

2. While this is an older article, it displays the effect that superheroes have on people and why we as humans feel that we need them.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/05/importance-having-superheroes/328461/

3. This work looks specifically at the political ramifications of superheroes in a post-9/11 America in the popular media.

https://etd.ohiolink.edu/!etd.send_file?accession=bgsu1431964700&disposition=inline

4. This is another article on Supers and American politics, this will ensure that I get multiple perspectives on the political impact.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurence-maslon/superheroes-politics_b_4096780.html

5. This article explores the rhetoric of Captain America. He is my favorite Superhero in Marvel and his very name gives him a platform to speak to our country and the way we handle situations, political or not. He is supposed to embody “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” but does he actually? So many questions to be answered!

https://www.bartleby.com/essay/Captain-America-as-a-Rhetorical-Superhero-FKRECNLK6YZA

I found some images to represent the arguments that the superheroes (and villains) are making. Also, these words stuck out to me in my research

  1. Strong
  2. Role Model
  3. Righteous
  4. Justice
  5. Dark/ Gritty

Ultimately I will be exploring the societal impacts of superheroes, mostly through the works of Marvel and DC. I will be looking at the political impact and the modern feminist heroes.

2 thoughts on “Proposal: The Rhetoric of Superheroes”

  1. I love this idea. I think it is super fun and innovative. You also have a plethora of different types of superheroes to talk about. I would love if you also explored the anti-hero concept and the rhetoric of the villain in conjunction with the rhetoric of the superhero. I think that it would add a lot of depth to your article.

  2. Fantastic idea! You might be interested in covering the weird disconnect between the authorial intent of WonderWoman, mostly sex and body positive ideas, and the interpretations by fans at large and more modern interpretations , turning her into an object of desire and other equally gross stuff.

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