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Does The World Need Superheroes? - Facts & Infographic

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Does The World Need Superheroes?

I grew up watching 'Superman.' As a child, when I first learned to dive into a swimming pool, I wasn't diving, I was flying, like Superman. I used to dream of rescuing a girl I had a crush on from a playground bully. - Tom Hiddleston, actor (2013).

 

A Heroic History

The 1930s was a difficult time for America. The Great Depression had left people dejected and suffering was taking its toll on public morale. The need of the day was for people to keep their hopes up and fantasy provided an answer. Therefore, the appearance of Superheroes and their comic strips during the 1930s comes as no surprise. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, young Jewish immigrants from New York City fashioned the first comic book superhero, Superman, in 1933 when Siegel came up with the storyline and Shuster drew the characters. It took Siegel and Shuster another five years to get their new masked hero to be accepted by a publishing house. The birth of Superman, Mandrake the Magician, Phantom, Spiderman, Captain America, Batman, and a host of other superheroes soon represented a melting point of fantasy, fiction, mythology, evolving societal values, and law enforcement. In 1939, the introduction of Robin, brought forth the character of the superhero's sidekick, or partner in fighting crime.

 

By 1940, World War II became the center of attention across the world. Superheroes in comic strips also fought in print, nurturing American and Allied sentiments. In 1941, Captain America dressed in American flag colors, became an iconic superhero, fighting alongside American troops. By the following decade, however, superhero comic strips started to wane and television and other cartoons replaced them. While some of them such as Green Lantern were revamped, other popular superheroes such as Batman was nearly killed off. It was in the 1960’s that some of the popular US television networks started to air shows featuring popular superheroes and revived interest in them. The release of Superman and the Mole Men in 1951 (the first full-length superhero movie)and of Batman: The Movie in 1966 saw the popularity of the superhero being regained. The following decades saw the release of many more movies and the move into the modern era of superheroes. Superheroes grew more sinister and grew more humane shades, even as more movies were released where superheroes often collaborated with each other to take on the evils of the world.

 

Superheroes Around the World

USA – Captain America, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman, The Hulk, to name but a few - the USA is the home of many superheroes.

 

Canada – Captain Canuck, the Canadian Comicbook hero, aka Tom Evans, is a Canadian secret agent. He gained superhuman strength from contact with extraterrestrials.

 

IndiaIndian religious mythology is full of Gods coming down to earth, taking human forms and performing supernatural feats to protect mankind. Religious figures endowed with superhuman strength such as Hanuman are treated on par with superheroes. In modern times, a number of comic strips such as Shaktimaan started to highlight superhero characters by using their powers to protect people against evil forces. Indian cinema has also seen hugely popular superhero figures such as G.One and Krissh in recent times.

 

China - Collective Man (Sun, Chang, Ho, Lin, and Han Tao-Yu) is a set of quintuplets who combine their superpowers in the body of one man to fight evil!

 

Middle EastBy 2005, the Middle East started to see the release of AK Comics' Middle East Heroes - Aya (The Princess of Darkness), Zein (The Last Pharaoh), Jalila, and Rakan - some of the earliest superheroes of the region. Apart from portraying the values of good over evil and success following a long struggle, these superheroes are also ambassadors for the strength and dignity of women in the region

 

JapanSuperheroes seem to be just as popular in Japan as they are in the US. The Ultra Crusaders are ever popular giant superheroes who jump to defend mankind against alien and monster attacks. The Kamen Riders are another popular team of bike-riding superheroes who are very popular in Japan. The popularity of the Super Sentai, however, goes far beyond the country with the show having been translated into the Power Rangers series in English. The first Silver Samurai was Kenuichio Harada and the next is his son son Shingen "Shin" Harada. This complex superhero character has shades of both good and evil.

 

Central America – El Santo in Mexico was a popular wrestler who also became a comic book character and superhero. Aztek is another superhero from Mexico. While White Tiger is a superhero from Puerto Rico.

 

South America – Defensor in Argentina are some of the superheroes who have emerged from Latin America

 

Germany – Hauptmann Deutchland, also called Vormund, protects Germany using his super powers.

 

United Kingdom – While many of the quintessentially American superheroes have been played on screen by British actors, UK itself has had a lack of many internationally recognizable superheroes. Knight, Captain Britain, Union Jack, Miracleman, and Zenith have all failed to keep up with the times and leave an enduring mark in the world of superheroes. James Bond, the fictional spy is perhaos the best example of a British superhero to achieve international fame.

 

France – Adamantine, this French superhero can fly, disguise himself and possesses extreme strength and endurance. Asterix and Obelix in the popular comic series are unlikely French superheroes who gain superhuman strength after drinking a magic potion.

 

Israel – Sabraman, (aka Dan Bar-On) is a superhero who fought against the evil Dr Mengele. Sabra, (aka Ruth Bat-Seraph) originally protected Israeli interests, but later emerged as part of an international team of superheroes.

 

Top 10 Superheroes of the World

The following are the top 10 superheroes of all time according to IGN, a popular entertainment website:

  1. SupermanThe most famous and best-loved superhero of all times, DC Comic’s Superman was introduced in June 1938, Action Comic No. 1. Born in the planet Krypton, raised by foster parents in the town of Smallville, Kansas, Superman lives a nondescript life as journalist Clark Kent, transforming only to come to the rescue of people in trouble.

  2. Batman – Introduced by DC Comics in Detective Comics No. 27 in May 1939, Batman is also called the Dark Knight and the Caped Crusader. Billionaire Bruce Wayne transforms into the Batman to answer the call of duty and rid Gotham City of crime and criminals. Apart from being an ace detective Batman is also a martial arts pro.

  3. Spider-ManThis Marvel Comics superhero is yet another global favorite. Peter Parker's earliest appearance in Amazing Fantasy No. 15 in August 1962 as a troubled teenager set the perfect backdrop for his emergence as the Spider-Man. His gawky life as Peter Parker is the perfect antithesis to his larger-than-life image as Spider-Man.

  4. WolverineMarvel Comics superhero Logan or Wolverine was first introduced in The Incredible Hulk No. 180 in October 1974. James Howlett transformed into Wolverine - the nearly indestructible - and later went on to join the X-Men and the Avengers. Wolverine’s troubled emotional psyche makes him a unique superhero.

  5. Wonder WomanIntroduced by DC Comics in All Stars Comics No. 8 of December 1941, Wonder Woman became the perfect symbol of a growing feminist movement in American society and represented the strong, modern woman. Princess Diana of Themyscira or Wonder Woman is a creation of William Moulton Marston, the famous inventor of the polygraph.

  6. Captain America – Introduced in Captain America No. 1 from March 1941, Captain America heads Marvel Universe’s range of epic superheroes. Steve Rogers, a frail teenager transformed initially into Captain America to aid the nation’s efforts to win World War II. His star-spangled shield evokes a quintessential American patriotism as he battles against evil and wrong-doers.

  7. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) – This DC Comics superhero was introduced in Showcase No. 22 from October 1959 and became the first human to join the intergalactic police force as Green Lantern. Hal , however, fell from grace and rose in awe as he turned into the super villain Parallax and killed most of the Green Lantern force before being replaced.

  8. The Flash (Wally West) – This DC Comics superhero became famous as the first Kid Flash and then became the third Flash after Barry Allen. Wally West was introduced in December 1959 in The Flash No. 110. Drawing his energy from Speed Force and attempting to replace his mentor, Wally transforms into the best-loved modern Flash – a true crime-fighter who pushes himself beyond all limits.

  9. The Hulk – First appearing in The Incredible Hulk No. 1 from May 1962, the Hulk is the alter–ego of Dr. Bruce Banner. Through the years, the Hulk’s personality has varied and this Marvel superhero has gone from being a fascinating physicist to a psychotic powerhouse.

  10. Daredevil – This Marvel comic superhero first made his appearance in Daredevil No. 1, in April 1964. Matt Murdock, or the Man Without Fear, was blinded as a child in an accident that also accords him supernatural strength. He ventures out from Hell’s Kitchen in New York to fight crime and avenge his father.

 

Superhero Movies

Superhero movies have been some of the best-loved across the world. While superheroes have been great favorites at the box office for many decades now, some of the top grossing superhero movies were made in the 21st century certifying to their outreach and growth in popularity. The top 10 superhero movies with the highest box office collections are:

 

Rank

Movie

Studio

Worldwide

Box office collection

US Release Date

1

Marvel's The Avengers

Buena Vista / Walt Disney Studios motion Pictures

Marvel's The Avengers:

5/4/2012

2

Iron Man 3

Buena Vista / Walt Disney Studios motion Pictures

$1,215,439,994

03/05/13

3

The Dark Knight Rises

Warner Bros.

$1,084,439,099

7/20/2012

4

The Dark Knight

Warner Bros.

$1,004,558,444

7/18/2008

5

Spider-Man 3

Sony/Columbia

$890,871,626

5/4/2007

6

Spider-Man

Sony/Columbia

$821,708,551

5/3/2002

7

Spider-Man 2

Sony/Columbia

$783,766,341

6/30/2004

8

Iron Man 2

Paramount Pictures

$623,933,331

5/7/2010

9

Man of Steel

Warner Bros.

$662,845,518

6/14/2013

10

Iron Man

Paramount Pictures

$585,174,222

5/2/2008

 

 

 

 

 

Data – Wikipedia.

 

Criticism of Superheroes

In 1954, a book by Dr. Frederic Wertham called “Seduction of the Innocent” emerged as the greatest criticism faced by superhero comic books till then. The book accused comic strips of corrupting children and the youth. In his critique of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, Dr. Wertham accused Superman of being a fascist and Wonder Woman of being unladylike. Batman and Robin were said to promote homosexuality and “make boys gay.” The book very nearly destroyed the comic book industry. “ It led to the creation of the Comics Code Authority by the Comics Magazine Association of America, whereby comic publishers self-regulated their content. Drugs, bloodshed, and gore were banned from superhero comics.

 

According to a study by Professor Sharon Lamb, from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, the new crop of superheroes is a bad influence on young boys. According to Professor Lamb the older generation of superheroes such as Superman stood for a number of exemplary values such as honesty, kindness, and peace. The newer superheroes such as Iron Man, however, depict characters with negative ideas of masculinity, indulge in mindless aggression, and are essentially sexist. Professor Lamb reached these conclusions following a survey of 674 boys between 4 and 18 years of age. According to her these superheroes only served in damaging the social skills of youngsters and adversely affected performance at school.

 

Today's superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he's aggressive, sarcastic, and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity...These men, like Iron Man, exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns.” – Professor Sharon Lamb.

 

In an analysis called "Superhero play: Is it cause for concern?" for GreatSchools.org, the American non-profit website, Pam Gelman says that Superhero play is both natural and inevitable. Instead of worrying if it negatively influences children, parents and teachers must identify it as a great teaching opportunity and impart right values. “Experienced teachers know that superhero play is inevitable and can provide a valuable opportunity for young children to learn about helping others.” - Pam Gelman

 

Do Superheroes Make us Delusional?

Kids need heroes. While parents should be role models for life, superheroes remind a child of the moral compass necessary to navigate a universe fraught with thrills and danger.” - Axel Alonso, Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics.

 

While the need for hope, fantasy, and faith in ideals is certainly undeniable, teachers and parents in many parts of the world are wondering if Superheroes make children and young adults delusional. Through the 1950s a number of children in the US sustained injuries and in some cases even died trying to imitate Superman. Superhero- related pediatric injuries are still being studied in the US.

 

In March 2009, a child from the state of West Bengal, India, accidentally hung himself in an attempt to imitate his favorite superhero. In July 2011, a child in Guangdong province, People's Republic of China, died trying to fly like Superman. His brother sustained major injuries.

 

Do watching movies or television series based on superheroes or even reading comic strips make children rash, reckless, and irresponsible? Do superheroes prompt children to use violence instead of dialogue? While these may be complex questions to answer, they may certainly be worth considering in the context of developing any future superhero characters.

 

Sources

http://www.ign.com/top/comic-book-heroes/1

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonderwoman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiderman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daredevil_(Marvel_Comics)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hulk

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wally_west

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Lantern_(comic_book)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Captain_America

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolverine_(comics)

http://boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=superhero.htm

http://www.mania.com/history-comic-book-superheroes_article_116423.html

http://www.comicvine.com/profile/gambit1024/blog/superheroes-101-a-history/80032/

http://www.hitfix.com/news/pbs-documentary-takes-a-serious-look-at-history-of-superheroes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superhero

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/aug/16/superheroes-role-models-child-psychologist

http://www.greatschools.org/parenting/social-skills/1188-superhero-play-opportunity-or-cause-for-concern.gs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superhero_fiction#History

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Asian_superheroes

http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/20-greatest-Japanese-superheroes

http://comicsalliance.com/stan-lee-creates-superheroes-china-india/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4312547.stm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/10201861/Where-are-all-the-British-superheroes.html

http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/20-greatest-Japanese-superheroes

http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2010/08/study_todays_superheroes_are_b.html

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2013/06/why-are-we-obsessed-with-superheroes/

http://www.beliefnet.com/Inspiration/Galleries/Why-Do-Kids-Need-Superheroes.aspx?p=2

http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/articles/superheroes-impart-lifes-lessons

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-03-22/kolkata/28033511_1_superhero-stunt-city-boy

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2011-07/08/content_12859764.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2083410/

http://www.amazon.com/Superheroes-Capes-Cowls-Creation-Culture/dp/0385348584/

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