Superhero News Lately: Cruises, Jail Time, and More!

What’s going on this week in superhero news? And, more to the point, why should we care?

A lot happened lately in superhero news and it takes a critical academic lens to understand why that news matters to us, or should. But academic language is so overwrought and inaccessibly pretentious.

And that’s where I come in!

Every day I will sift through the news cycle for interesting items of conversation within the superhero genre and, via the magic of embedded links, bold and italicized text, and SPUNK I will try to make it clear how and why the news we skim over every day deserves a little more pause for thought. Remember… journalism is a superpower, too.

  • The National Retail Foundation ranks superhero costumes as trending more popular than princess costumes, Forbes reportsWhy does it matter? Gendered costumes are a recent imposition and they fundamentally other children.
  • io9 ranked the best parody superheroes and it’s surprising which beloved superheroes started as parodies of other superheroes. Why does it matter? Parody is an important and protected form of critical political and social commentary. With superheroes becoming a powerful dialectic conversation in our culture today, parodying them is helpful and necessary to that conversation.
  • Superhero cruises are becoming a thing, according to this press releaseWhy does it matter? There has been much concern over the commercialization of superheroes. Superman was originally written to be a socialist paragon… the genre has come a long way since then, as a bastion of capitalism and market greed under Disney’s evil empire.
  • Artist Hannah Rothstein examines traditional culpability for the superpowered in her series, “Superhero Mugshots.” Rothstein is reported in interviews as expressing that her series is about “motivating an analysis within ourselves on how we choose to perceive things… how do we choose our heroes?” Why does it matter? Art is a litmus test for how a person sees the world. Art is the way that we express our culture and has the power and potential to help shape that culture into a better — i.e. a more positive, constructive, successful, and respectful — place.
  • Maybe you’ve seen the so-called “separate but equal” line of DC Girls products and media…  Why does it matter? While it’s pivotal to understand that femininity and feminism are definitely not mutually exclusive, there is something condescending and infantilizing about the “pinkified” versions of superheroes this new line offers  — remind anybody of anything?
  • So why was 1986 the most important year for modern comic book history? Well, Vulture makes a decent case. Why does it matter? People romanticize the work and the creators of golden age comics, but in actuality the comic art of that time reflected a fundamentally racist, sexist, homophobic and overall problemagized and socially unsafe climate. A**holes like Stan Lee are lauded. There is more to superheroes and comics than their beginning, and we can make them something better.

  • Actors from TV superhero shows create a cohesive and heartrending cast for well-rated short film Sidekick. Why does it matter? Indie superhero movies give us a more rounded genre and represent the non-branded (er, less-branded) representation and reflection of our popcultural, psychosocial atmosphere.

  • It might be going a little far to see one step in the right direction and call it “a new era”, but ok sure. Why does it matter? Superhero movies and the people who make them are extremely sexist, even now under so much media scrutiny. Where’s that new era we were just talking about…? 

  • The Doctor Who Christmas Special this year will be superhero-themed, Cinema Blend reportsWhy does it matter? Comic book culture took Great Britain by storm, and many of the biggest influencers in the industry came from the UK; that relationship is important to understanding the landscape of comics culture today. 

  • Wonder Woman was chosen as Entertainment Weekly‘s most powerful superhero (based on a systematic algorithm of their creation.) Why does it matter? Wonder Woman is a feminist icon — her name alone evokes something viscerally valiant. 

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