Transformation of an image of American superhero

Approximate reading time: 64 min.
A link to the article will be sent to you on e-mail:
Enter your E-mail:

“The cultural work done in the past by gods and epic sagas is now done by laundry-detergent commercials and comic-strip characters…”

Roland Barthes


From the earliest times people loved stories about heroes. Just enough to remember ancient Greek mythology: deeds of valour of Theseus and Herakles, stories about Odysseus and Achilles etc. In all world cultures still exist their own heroes, myths, tales, legends, epic poems, eposes about heroic deeds. Sometimes heroes appear to be not people, but “gods”! Then, as a rule, these stories are a part of some religious teaching. And, perhaps, this connection to religion is far from accidental.

In considering the given problematics one should ask one question: “Which function in a society’s culture carry stories about heroes? Are these stories a pure entertainment or they play some other role?”

Taking into account the fact that stories about heroes exist in all cultures, their necessity is obvious. People are attracted to such stories, and if earlier these were myths and tales, now as heroes may act quite real characters. Mane people gladly learn biographies of their idols, watch autobiographical movies about how a person became famous and make a success of something. Even in modern history already on such groundbreaking stage of development of culture we still need heroes and look for them either in real life, or in imaginative worlds. But what do we need this for? Can it be true, that we are interested in life of a completely strange person, whom we are not even acquainted with? Is a life of some media person is really more important than our own?

In order to understand what do we need heroes for, one need, in the first place, to answer the question: “Who is a hero? What distinguishes a hero from the rest?”

In the simplest view a hero can be described as:

A hero – is a person, having a certain list of qualities, which separate him from the overall mass of people, raise him, let him handle super complicated tasks, bear the bulk of responsibility of global scale, loaded onto him.  

Now “heroes” often call people, having such list of qualities, which allow drawing a confession from the society, i.e. to become rich, successful, popular, and influential. Here it is enough to give an example of such people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and many stars, which are pointless to list in view of their mass character. And really, who does not want to attain all that achieved these people? Come out books about their life from “success story” genre, in magazines often published articles about how they made way towards their dream, in social networks constantly gleam posts with their quotations and thoughts. Should not this support the expressed earlier thesis, that we still need heroes?!

In a hero description we said, that a choice of a list of qualities, characterizing him, is not accidental, but answers certain purposes. Why we want to see namely these qualities in a hero, but not the other? Answering this question is a key to understanding, why we even need heroes. We need heroes, because we strive to imitate them. A hero – is some ideal without fears and complexes, defects, without all that burdens us, weights down. This is a description of what we need to aspire to, what we need to comply with. The society will praise those qualities, which are able to beat a path to what it (society) considers valuable and important.

If now society values success, popularity, power, money, than it is oblivious that heroes will increasingly become singers, musicians, actors, heads of some big companies and projects etc.

American heroism 

So, now we have found out, who heroes are, and why the society needs them, and also, which influence they render on culture in general. Now let’s look at the question of an American heroism. Why it takes that much interest? The USA – is a very young country in comparison to Europe, Russia and many others. If counting from the moment of signing the Declaration of Independence – from the 4th of July 1776, the history of the USA as a country counts a little more than 200 years.

In spite of Russia or Europe, where the history of heroism goes back generations, where there is its own ancient culture, architectural and literature monuments, which reflect a certain heroics, formed throughout millenniums, America has not been gone through such a long period of culture establishment.

Of course, counting that the population of the USA has not appeared out of nowhere, and the most part of it compose immigrants from European countries, then, inevitably, an American culture has been introduced a part of European values and archetypes.

However, there had been a lot of nationalities, which populated the territory of North-American continent, that’s why, being around long enough, developing capitalism principles of the society building, totally new culture has been formed in the USA, which has nothing in common with its former European birthplace.

In this culture its own heroes started to appear, in which a big role played comics – drawn stories or strip cartoons. The name “comics” itself come from the word “comic”, which means “funny”, and in the beginning of its appearance comics carried only humor character.

The situation completely changed in the 20th century, when the first real superhero with a simple and charactonym name Superman, i.e. a super human, has appeared. A drawn story about Superman has been published in
June 1938 by DC Comics company, and this date is commonly believed to consider as a Golden age of comics in the USA. Then emerged a dark hero Batman. Then the comics industry, having felt the flair in societies’ hopes, starts to rapidly develop. Other superheroes appear: Flash, Spider-man, Captain America, Iron man, Hulk, Dr. Strange, Ninja Turtles etc.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 1 Transformation of an image of American superhero

Totally for the period of the only one golden age have been created about 400 superheroes – an idiosyncratic analogous of a pantheon of  ancient Greek’s gods.

Why comics have happened to be so popular in the US? Indeed illustrated journals with drawn stories failed to be spread all over the world. And the rest learned about notorious American superheroes only thanks to big budget picturizations.

Namely the revived on TV screens stories about people with superpowers made plots of comics popular all over the world. Now schoolers in every point of the planet (excluding entirely poor and backward regions with extremely low level of life, where there is no television and internet) are perfectly aware about “their” heroes: Spider-man, Flash, Superman, Batman etc. Cinematograph has presented comics a new lease of life.

Capitalism – is not the fairest system of society’s organization. That’s why a superhero appearance, which fights against injustice, defends the weak and poor – is a natural result of society’s processes. Remember Robin Hood’s story from Sherwood Forest? Its appearance has become as a result of answering by the poor population of England on permissiveness and greed of royal grand people. Namely because of this Robin Hood became such a popular character, and it does not matter, whether or not ballades about him are an invention.

An American society, in which from year to year contradictions increased, needed its heroes. But where one could take them from? The story of the new country appeared on a map, counts not so many years. It is worth to turn a bloody past and find heroes on the war between South and North? Stirring in historical events raised many questions considering the oppression of the “colored’ part of the population of the USA. When the question about equality with the whites had not even appeared on the agenda, the entertainment industry of the US worked for the white population, that’s why it was easy to film westerns and make cowboys heroes, who not only could in masterly fashion shoot from revolvers, but also killed Indians.

Now, as judged at least by media industry, the US elites in conditions of formed “equality” of all citizens in the country want somehow to erase the level of difference between the white and the black in broad layers of population, to preach tolerance (“12 Years a Slave”, “Django Unchained”, “Fences”, “Finding Forrester” etc.).

For the society’s union, again, its heroes are needed, and the appearance of drawn super humans – it is like a life-saving straw in a similar situation, and it does not matter, that they – are unreal, indeed superheroes have been created, in the first place, for children. By a precise account mainly the children should become the main consumers on comics’ content; mainly the children will receive perceptions of justice, morale and heroism from the drawn persons.

The adult generation someday will be replaced by the younger, raised on completely different examples (images) and values. And this young generation in the USA has already been brought up, and superheroes for many of them still are being idols: many collect rare comic editions, some figures of the superheroes have collector’s value and cost a lot of money etc. I.e. for the US society at the given moment a superheroism – is one of the fundamental categories, absolutely being a part of a worldview of an average American. In a virtue of a global character on spread on the Hollywood products the rest of countries do not stay on the sidelines of this tendency.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 2 Transformation of an image of American superhero

The main conclusion here: taking into account, that superheroes of comics are an important part of the USA culture, they are a reasonably good instrument of influence on this culture. Their artificiality, their absence in reality makes them also a very convenient instrument, since images of heroes are enough moldable, and authors of the stories about superheroes can easily transform them, thus creating new role models.



What images of superheroes were initially like? Which enemies they fought? Initially comics’ heroes fought criminality, sought justice, defended weak and helpless etc. The hero’s image corresponded some etalon of morality; this was what he differed from the rest. He never strived to use his superpower harmfully, in his vested interests, even if he had difficulties in everyday life himself, in common non-heroic life. For example, Peter Parker, known as the Spider-man, often had financial problems, but he never had a though of robbing a bank or a casino, using his superpowers, and then fight injustice in non-poverty. Moreover, many heroes use a mask. Therefore, they hide their real face, stay incognito. Many of them do not look for fame, at that make really heroic deeds.

As a rule, minor problems end up with major issues: according to a plot some suprecriminal-evildoer or a threat appear, which can destroy the whole world or erase the humanity from the Earth’s surface. This way, sooner or later a superhero has to take on his shoulders a global level of responsibility: now he is responsible not only for saving his country or city, but the whole humanity. This adds one interesting quality to an American worldview: many Americans believe in some uniqueness of their nation, in its mission, think, that they can easily interfere in inner business of other governments. And they do so, in the first place, on the basis of their ideals, following their models to emulate, with a belief, that they carry on piece, freedom and justice for all humanity, that they are able to solve and solve global problems.

Obama about the “exclusiveness” of the American nation

At least, if in the USA’s elites takes place malice, then simple citizens of the USA, coming from the formed culture, are being easily pursued in benevolent intentions.

Another very important specialty of heroism of the USA – its individuality. A superhero – is almost always a lone person, who all alone fights a war with criminality. Often according to the plot the situations gets to the bone: the only one single superhero is able to save the humanity or Earth from death.

The idea of individualism is mainstream in western worldview, that’s why it is absolutely being expressed in the USA culture and those products, which this culture reproduces. Here we should mention a piece of work of American writer Ayn Rand, who all her creations devoted to a destruction of collectivism morale, altruistic idea of self-abnegation and serving a society. Superheroes of American comics to different extent also carry in themselves this idea of individualism, being the main concept of western (American) worldview.

The next typical trait of American heroism – are ways of contradiction to a situation at hand. All superheroes act, if expressed in managerial terminology, on a power priority, i.e. literally fight with criminals and enemies. Superheroes, as a rule, do not strive to sort out causes of a situation at hand and liquidate the source of a problem itself.

For example, Spider-man fights with different superevils-mutants, same as he is. The Spider-man and all his enemies came into the world thanks to a corporation, which carries on dangerous scientific experiments and developments, finances suspicious fanatics and explicit psychopaths. Why don’t destroy the corporation itself, and then criminals will simply stop to appear? But the Spider-man does not strive to find the source of the problem – he stubbornly continues to defeat the superevils.

The crime in Gotham, where acts another famous superhero – Batman, is also due to certain factors. In the city is observed serious class lamination with an essential attribute of corruption of elites, where the rich entertain themselves at official buffets and live a careless life, and the poor barely make two ends meet.  Of course, one needs to fight against crime, but I’m sure, that Bruce Wayne could do much more at his peaceful field, than the Batman, creating work places with worthy salary, aid funds to the poor and other socially unprotected categories of citizens, developing the city and its infrastructure, financing education, and the main thing – gradually changing the system in general, in order there has no such lamination on rich and poor been reproduced.  But there is no such positive activity – only endless fights, explosions and chasings.  What is indicative, mainly this brightly framed with expensive special effects power opposition is the most memorable for children during such films watching, with results of the study: Superheroes teach children of aggression and violence witness for.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 3 Transformation of an image of American superhero

Perhaps, this is one of the main plans of creation the superheroes: the attention of society is being sidetracked a solving really existing problems, offering to fight with symptoms, but not with the disease itself. If getting really deep into a conspiracy theory, then, probably, the content about superheroes – is a part of a huge plan of forming a completely new worldview, which carriers will never get an idea or a though, that a society is arranged somehow incorrectly, that there is some social injustice exists, exploitation of a human by a human.

Transformation of an image of a superhero in films

Despite all the listed disadvantages, till present time American superheroes had, as it has been already said before, positive qualities, the main of which – is an etalon of morality. The heroes, who had superpower, have always been ready to selflessly fight with enemies, defend peaceful citizens, at that showing courage, bravery, valor and even generosity and respect towards their enemies.  They have always been ready to give their opponent a chance on redemption.

However, lately, this etalon of morality has become slightly changed, overgrowing new unladylike for superheroes characteristics.

Hancock 2008

The first robin in this meaning was the movie “Hancock”. In beginning of the film a completely different hero appears in front of us, which till the recent time has not appeared in similar stories. Hancock – is a vagrant, who has lost hope and any interest in life, he is bored and all alone. Morning until night he drinks alcohol and even deeds of valour makes with a bottle in hand. His methods and ways of treating people often look caddish, contemptuous and cruel. He at ease destroys into splinters different buildings, even when the situation doesn’t require it, because he absolutely does not care, how much the reparation is going to cost, and in general on that it has been built by people. He is constantly has booze breath, urine and vomit. Of all people Hancock hardly can pretend on an etalon of morality.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 4 Transformation of an image of American superhero

It would be stupid to leave him the same throughout the whole film, that’s why across the whole rules of drama Hancock should have become a good guy. As a result he becomes like that, but a completely different image, which like a superhero can be has already “broken the mold”. Indeed, and why we got used to the fact, that a superhero – is some ideal? He can be a rather common human with the expected vices and weaknesses, with which he, same as everybody else, desperately wrestles. Sometimes he overrides them, and sometimes they override him.

Now Hancock – really is a superhero. He wears a special suit, tries to be polite, and to correspond his status of a superpower owner. But, as known from stock-exchange industry science, if a trend line is broken through, the trend movement will follow inevitably. In the case with a superhero image this theory demonstrates its efficiency.

Iron Man 2008

This guy in an iron suit has also made some corrections in superheroes’ perceptions. Before him most of the superheroes, appeared on TV-screens, preferred to stay incognito, acted secretly, tried not to attract too much attention to their persona, avoiding popularity and not demanding appreciation for their deeds of valor. At bottom, many superheroes needed a mask namely for that…

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 5 Transformation of an image of American superhero

Remember Batman. A comparison of Batman and Iron man is proper, since they are both rich, own huge corporations, both don’t have superabilities, but use various technologies and latest scientific developments for realization their superheroic ideas.

However Bruce Wayne in life – is a very private person. Not only enemies, but also many friends (and even beloved) do not know, who hides behind a bat’s mask, and he tries to keep a secret as much as practical. The same can’t be said for the Iron Man. Tony Stark, controlling an enclosed suit, – a famous and outrageous personality. He loves popularity, PR and is not going to hide, what he does, since this can serve the good turn in creation his attractive image and the image of his company. He does not mind using the image of the Iron Man for generation of profit.

In such a manner, in the etalon of a superhero appears a new trait – an aspiration to popularity and success. Now the hero does not want to hide, is not trying to run from attention of a society, on the contrary, he meets it halfway.

Watchmen 2009

This film has presented to our attention the whole group of superheroes, completely different from habitual to us Batman and Superman. Let’s give a brief characteristic to some of them in order to demonstrate, which changes happened in people with superabilities archetypes’ in this movie.

 Transformation of an image of American superhero


The hero wears a mask constantly. It is made from bandages, on which appear stains, resembling the stains from psychological test of Rorschach (where the name comes from), which already adds to this character some image of psychopath and paranoid. From the flashbacks we learn a little from Rorschach’s past.

His mother was a prostitute and hated her own offspring, that’s why other children had been mocking on him. However, Rorschach could hit back, showing peculiar cruelty and sadism towards his offenders. For example, in one of the fights Rorschach snapped off with his teeth a piece of meat from a guy’s check, who made fun of him.

According to the movie’s plot, he finds himself in jail. Since Rorschach participated in the capture of many criminals, the local crowd regards him not very friendly. Those, who have been put in jail by Rorschach, threat to revenge him in the cruelest way. However, Rorschach – is the hero, who grew in a violence environment, that’s why on every cruelty he is ready to answer with even more cruelty, from which even absolute evildoers are starting to shiver. His cruelty is constantly being excused by violence and hatred, overflowing the world of people.

The Comedian

This character is presented in an image of an unprincipled cynic. He constantly smokes cigars.

In one scene he beats up another hero from the group of “Watchmen” – Silk Spectre – because she refuses him in sexual relations.  Having fairly beaten up a girl in a rather explicit heroic costume, the Comedian is going to rape her, but another hero from the “Watchmen” stops him.  And this character fights with criminals, killer and abusers???!

In other scene, the Comedian, participating in the Vietnam War, with a smile on his face burns alive an unarmed Vietnamese, who is unable to resist, since he had just lost his leg.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 7 Transformation of an image of American superhero

After the War he meets a Vietnamese pregnant girl, which whom, as it seems, the Comedian had sex during the military operation. After a short conversation a girl hits the Comedian with a mouth of a crashed bottle, and he kills her for that (IN A PREGNAT STATE).

In of the scenes the Comedian with an insane lusty passion rushes to quiet protestants, claiming to prohibit superheroes and bring policeman back. The Comedian with a smile of his face beats up peaceful citizens: men and women.

Silk Spectre

The only one representative of femininity in the “Watchmen”. By her initial appearance looks rather like a woman of easy virtue.


This character from the “Watchmen” is the cleverest. His idol, an example to follow is Alexander the Great. Ozymandias, admiring his antique hero, says: “His viewing a united world had been unprecedented”.

Ozymandias positions himself as a defender from malice, humanity emancipator from an imposed hatred and war with each other for a place in the sun. However, He is not quite the one he representing himself to be. Closer to the end of the film we learn, that Ozymandias has another idols – pharaohs. The word “pharaohs” is the password to his computer, and the energetic plant, built in the Antarctic, outwardly repeats ancient Egyptian constructions – pyramids.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 8 Transformation of an image of American superhero

Ozymandias himself compares the put up plant with the Karnak – an Egypnat village, where the biggest temple of an ancient world is located – the Temple of Amon-Ra. Scientist and engineers, who helped with the building of his “new temple”, Ozymandias kills, calling them “slaves, who had been buried alive together with pharaohs and their secrets”.

From the hero’s biography: “During the travel to the Near East he realized, that Alexander the Great had been just a pale imitation of Ramesses II, who became the new hero of Veidt. Coming back to America, he got a pseudo name of Ozymandias (an ancient Greek name of Ramesses II). Source

In one of the scenes Ozymandias sits in front of many TVs. A similar image appears on the screens not for the first time. In the second part of the famous trilogy “The Matrix” Neo meets a similar character – a great architecture or in another words – a geometer, or the god of masons – an all-seeing eye on the top of the pyramid.     

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 9 Transformation of an image of American superhero

Which methods this pharaoh or the god of a new era is going to set a peace on Earth? On a monument of Ramesses II, stated in the center of the building-electric plant, the following lines are written:

“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

He starts to kill the unwanted superheroes. The sacrifice of his big game becomes the Comedian and Moloch. The reactor, which building has been declared as a creation of a new free source of energy, in reality should turn into a bomb of the newest generation. Erasing from the surface the biggest cities such as Moscow, Hong-Kong, New-York, L.A., and blaming in it Dr. Manhattan, Ozymandias is going to set peace on the planet. Now the humanity has a new, more dangerous enemy, in order to fight with whom they should get together – one of the many gods.

Dr. Manhattan

Dr. Manhattan is one of the key characters of the story about the Watchmen. The former superhero Hollis Mason writes a book, where calls Dr. Manhattan a dawn of superheroes, and later compares Dr. Manhattan with a god. Dr. Manhattan himself says literally the following: “The cleverest man on Earth is no bigger threat to me, than the cleverest termite”. Another phrase, pointing at all might of this character: “I can change everything, except for the human nature”.

I.e. Dr. Manhattan represents a totally new living creature, a life of completely new order. He can be compared to a mythical “gods” or titans, in which people believed throughout a significant period of their history and, seemingly, the mythology of which have artificially been supported with the upper level of chain of authority.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 10 Transformation of an image of American superhero

He participates in the Vietnam War, and mainly thanks to him according to the plot America wins. Dr. Manhattan himself, feeling his might, also gradually undergoes some changes. When the Comedian kills a pregnant girl, doctor does not stop him. The Comedian concludes, that doctor does not care for the humanity, with whom he loses the connection. Dr. Manhattan keeps silence, because he agrees with him. The doctor himself claims the following: “I’m tired of the Earth. I’m annoyed to mess around in intricacies of their lives”.

As a result Manhattan at first leaves the Earth and nests on the Mars, and then leaves our galaxy at all…

The main idea of the film, voiced by Ozymandias, is notable: “The humanity is only able to get together against a common enemy or a threat. Only based on hatred and lie it is able to solve all its disputes and contradictions and build peace”. But is it really, that the world can be built on the basement of hatred and lie, on a threat of death, on a universal fear?

The Green Hornet 2011

Britt Reid – a son of an affluential media magnate, the owner of an independent newspaper. When became an adult had learned spending his father’s money on different hanging-outs, preferring drunken parties and on the pitch girls to self- esteem and professional growth. He does not feel ashamed at all to hide from life behind the success of his affluent parent. Britt is not going to study something, since he is quite well with the situation at present.

A new character appears in his life named Kato. Kato came from Shanghai. Britt‘s father employed him – he looks after rarity cars of Mr. Reid. From the very beginning Kato, despite Britt, has all necessary qualities of a superhero: he is knowledgeable in technique, projects and creates various devices, including weapon, has good skills in close fight and extreme driving. On the backgrounds of him Britt – is just an infantile child, who constantly needs to be taken out from different woes.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 11 Transformation of an image of American superhero

They start their adventures with cutting-away the head from father’s monument, saving several people from street bandits and shifting away from the police. They finish the successful “operation” with a habitual celebration with alcohol, cigarettes etc.

After these events an interesting dialogue takes place, which half-opens a curtain of a future image of the superheroes:

Kato: We saved people’s life, and they chat about this head. How we will become superheroes, if we are considered to be criminals?
Britt: So. Think about and tell me, which STUPIDITY is always unites all superheroes?
Kato: Tights.
Britt: No.
Kato: Hat.
Britt: No, Kato. That everybody around knows, that THEY – ARE GOOD GUYS, that THEY – ARE HEROES. Right? And evils only left to crumble harmless people, and now they have a hero in sights. And this is the way it is in all movies, in all comics. Everywhere. And this is VERY STUPID. And now imagine that a bad guy thinks, that a good guy – is also BAD, now he won’t be able to treat him like that. HERE IS WHAT WE ARE GOING TO DIFFR: WE WILL REPRESENT EVEILS, BUT WILL ACT, LIKE HEROES.

Kato: But then both the police and bad guys will try to kill us. 
Britt: But we don’t even live. Guess what, I’m serious – both of usflush down the toilet all our potential, at that you more, than I am… Not death we should be afraid off, BUT THAT ONE NEVER GET A CHANCE TO LIVE BALLS TO THE WALL.    

And the first thing, which our heroes go for… No, not making good deeds, preparing from future fights with evil. They proceed for popularity. Britt claims from the company, which he inherited, to write about vandals, who cut the head from his father’s monument, on the newspaper’s front page. He names a new “superhero” the green hornet, since his father died from the bite of a bee, at that comfortably using benefits and the heritage, which he has left him.

In one of the scenes Britt says Kato the following:
– Take my hand and say, that you will go with me in search of ADVENTURE.

So, his main goal was and still is an adventure, taking pleasure from life, fun, but not saving people, fighting with criminals etc. at all. Despite other superheroes, fate does not make him to take the burden of responsibility for other people, he just wants to “live balls to the wall”.

While Kato creates a new super automobile for real superheroes, Britt acts like a publicity junkie: shows off in front of the mirror, puts on different variations of masks, gets busy with his future image, which will be shown on front pages of glossy magazines.

Further in his superheroic adventures Britt acts like a child, who totally does not understand, how he had appeared to be here, and that all around lethal risk is waiting. He – is not a superhero, he – is a human, who is trying to give an imitation of a superhero.

One time he awkwardly uses a weapon and gets into coma on eleven days. His Chinese partner Kato puts a nappy on him. This moment is very symbolic, since it demonstrates all incapacity and childish doltishness of a newly-qualified fighter from malice.

A scene of fighting of Britt with his partner Kato is also interesting, as a result of which a nameless Chinese helper alongside with Britt falls a couple of times, despite having a masterful command of combat and ability to wipe the floor with about ten bandits at a time. At that Britt shows his childish egoistic contumacy, opposing to his professionalism. Therefore, a totally new for a superhero behavioral template is being demonstrated – infantile contumacy, which allegedly can compensate a lack of competence.

Finally, Kato continues to make the entire job for the Green Hornet, and Britt, getting a swelled head of a superhero, successfully continues to parasite under diligence and unselfishness of his partner. Besides, Britt always demonstrates some silliness, often bordering by a total freakiness, which is also a rater typical element of the American cinematograph propaganda.

American Hero 2015

The film, which did not attain special popularity and love from the audience, but continued a traced line in changing the character and the image of a superhero. Already the name of the film says a lot: we will be shown not some abstract superhero, but namely the American one.

Meet Melvin. He can move things by the power of thought and has rather developed intellectual abilities to memorize numbers of any complexity, read serious literature, listen to classical music and play the piano.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 12 Transformation of an image of American superhero

However, our superhero was unlucky to born in a poor and unfortunate neighborhood. The surrounding, in which he grew up, friends make him quite a different hero, than the one we are adjusted to see on TV-screens.

Instead of trying to somehow get away from that rotten hole and make his talents useful, Melvin, so as his friends, prefers to live fast, loosing himself in constant parties with alcohol, drugs and uncontrolled sexual relationships.

His lifestyle leads to a destruction of his marriage. The court decides, that he is not allowed to see his son and to approach to his ex-wife less than 100 yards.

The hero’s day passes in search of money to spend the evening wacky. Sometimes he with friends arranges performances on the street, where he demonstrates his abilities, in doing so he earns chicken-feed and spends them on drugs.

Despite an absolutely destructive way of life, on the inside Melvin – is a good guy. Many people speak well of him. He helps his disabled friend, who came back from the war in Iraq. He goes to church. Once he helped one old woman, who had destined for perish in her own house during the Catherine hurricane. Melvin came on her pleas for help, led her to a safe place and restored her house after the hurricane.

Many people from his surrounding tell him about the necessity of changes in life, that he needs to apply his talents advantageously, but Melvin, comparing his superabilities with an anomaly, refuses from the offered him responsibility. He is reserved on solving personal problems and contradictions.

Once he quotes Maupassant, this quotation, probably, is close to him, since it characterizes him as a personality: “Talented and smart, but lazy. Is able to understand everything and even achieve something. Nevertheless, he tended to enjoy life as an observer”.

His son is the only motivator for changing. Only if sober and more responsible, Melvin will have an opportunity to see his son.

Therefore, we face a totally new picture of a superhero – a consumer. The hero does not want to be a hero, does not want to solve social and governmental problems, but wants to enjoy “a simple human happiness”, reserving on solving his domestic problems. And really, why a superhero, appeared to be in such surrounding, must become good? Why he, like others, can’t become a drug-user and an alcoholic? Why can’t he be like everybody else? Why his superabilities should be necessarily demanded?

Within that narrative an American comic hero stops making any useful function, since the hero quits being a hero and does not have those qualities, which characterize him. He becomes a common person with his oddities and problems, complexes and disadvantages, which prevent him to show his heroism in this world.

Deadpool 2016

The whole analysis of this picture is presented in the article “Deadpool”: Is Killing Funny? We will only quote several quotations from the given article for understanding the image of this superhero:

“The main character was the bounty SORT team member Wade, who has already murdered 41 people. «I’m just a bad guy who gets paid to fuck up worse guys» according to him. Wade fell in love with the strip dancer Vanessa (the happy life of two spouses is shown as the non-stop sketchy scenes with the surprising range of perversions)”.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 13 Transformation of an image of American superhero

“More or less, you can see the perversity thesis during the whole film mostly in the short scenes and in characters’ dialogues. Let us start with the most hard-line moment of all. During the one of scenes describing «romantic relations» of Wade and his partner, you can see a very sketchy one where they changed their roles”. According to the plot he voluntary took part in such episode. I.e. DEADPOOL – is a SUPERHERO-PEDERAST. Or one considers that it is okay to do it one time?

“Wade ordered the cocktail named «blowjob» coming to see his friend (barman). Wade called his enemy Francis or «baby» and sent him love letters which were written on the dead bodies. The camera focused on the main bottom of the main heroes and other males (including the naked ones). Besides, Wade is not lazy to discuss any male body and genitalia. It is obvious once looking at the film poster. Deadpool is wearing skintight red suit with female purse, turning his back and holding his bottom”.

I think any comments would be unnecessary here. The difference between Superman-1978 and Deadpool-2016 is colossal and tangible. The Deadpool – is far from an ideal, he does not carry moral landmarks and is not an example to follow. The given character is rather – a carrier of tolerant ideas, propagandist of violence, sexual perversions and ass humor.

Suicide Squad 2016

It is notable that in the given picture one may observe one similar to the movie “Watchmen” plot line: in the beginning of the movie we see the death of the Superman, which metaphorically may mean the death of a certain example of a superhero and its replacement by completely different images. The same idea has been demonstrated a little bit earlier in the “Watchmen” – a hero-god was replaced by heroes of a completely new type.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 14 Transformation of an image of American superhero

What images are being offered to us instead?


Deadshot – is a hired assassin, who is boasting about that he had never had a single misfire. According to the story of comics he becomes Batman’s enemy and then gets into a jail. Having served time in jail, he starts to work as a hired assassin. The prehistory of this character is the following:

Once his father attacked Floyd’s brother and also had wanted to beat up the whole family, and Floyd tried to shoot him for his own gun, however, instead of the father he accidentally kills his brother. After this excusable homicide Floyd swore that he will never overshoot again. (Source:

So, pay attention, he does not refuse to use weapon as a tool of problem-solving, does not throw the gun horror-stricken, since its usage led to his brother’s death. On the contrary, he is going to use weapon further, only first he needs to bring to perfection a skill of killing people. Who is guilty, that he became the way he is in the end? His father? Or after all he made his choice himself? Does fighting against violence serve an excuse of even greater violence?

Deadshot completely neglect human’s life. In one comic he even decided to blow up a kindergarten.

And according to creators’ of the picture “Suicide Squad” point of view, this hero still can serve for the good of the humanity, at least under the fear of death.

Harley Quinn

Harley Quinn – a character, known by the Batman’s universe. She – is Joker’s ally, an evil, fighting against Batman. Also according to comics she is in good relationships with the Poison Ivy and the Cat-woman.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 15 Transformation of an image of American superhero

Harley Quinn used to be a gymnast, and then entered a university to become a psychiatrist. She did not really want to kick ass at studies, that’s why she seduced teachers, by which subjects failed. Then she starts working in a psychiatric center Arkham , where she works with the most complicated maniacs-killers in order to make her name (not for the sake of threating them). Further she has been allowed to work with the very Joker, and he makes her fall in love with him. This is how Harleen Quinzel from not very good girl becomes a very bad one.

Several facts from her biography:

  • Harley helped Joker to realize his plan of kidnapping and blowing up several dozens of children.
  • Amongst main Batman’s enemies participated in the plan of Hush and Riddler for killing the hero.
  • She came back to the clinics for treatment. Together with many villains ran away during the organized by the Secret society of Super Villains total prison break throughout the planet.
  • Once the villainess got into Hell, where she held the revolt of death evils, then she got goat of demon Etrigan and he expelled her back on Earth.

Etc. And she also can and must serve the humanity…

El Diablo

The story of this character starts with the bank robbery by him and his best friend. But Chato (this hero has been called like that once) catches a bullet from his best friend and gets into a hospital. This betrayal seriously touches Chato. In a hospital, where he is, Chato meets Lazarus Lane, who offers to absorb a ghost of El Diablo. Taking over an ability of pyrokinesis, fire possession, Chato decides to have a bone to pick with the traitor and burns his house. Having realized too late that in the house have been women and children, he surrenders to the policy and accepts a death penalty. But Amanda Waller saves him by offering to atone Chato’s sin. Having entered into the suicide squad in 2011, Chato Santana makes difficult missions for the government.

And you may see, this character is not quite simple.

Killer Croc

Has an enormous physical strength and endurance. Scaly skin is able to protect even from the shot from a large-caliber weapon. Also has good smell. And a little peculiarity: Croc – is a cannibal, i.e. he eats humans.

And he is also a member of a squad, which has to save the humanity. Probably, after such deed of valor he will be forgiven of all his crimes and let alone, warned that it is forbidden to eat human’s meat too often.

Opposition of superheroes

Another subject, which one would want to touch separately, – is the subject of superheroes’ opposition. The thing is, that lately in the cinematograph has appeared a one rather alarming trend – to confront good superheroes with each other.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 16 Transformation of an image of American superhero

So, Batman fights with Superman “Dawn of Justice”, the iron man joins the opposition with the Captain America. In the society’s culture a new idea is being implemented:

«We all perfectly know that superheroes defeat all their enemies. The result of any fighting is predicable. But we have never compared good guys between each other. And who is the strongest one, the bravest one, the most courageous etc.”

Therefore, we are being offered to observe with interest, how superheroes instead of fighting with evil beat up each other for 2 hours, playing the game of chicken and getting to know, who has the most right world and justice perceptions, how one needs to save the humanity and what is needed to be sacrificed.

This artistical device of confronting has a very important informational message, bedimming a little in targeting of superheroes. Now the activity of the superheroes is starting to cause some doubts: “Have the superheroes always acted correctly? Can’t their actions lead to even greater tragedies? Can’t they sincerely be mistaken, be used blindly?”

The superheroes opposition – is a question of their necessity. Does the society even need such heroes, who can’t make clear for themselves, what the truth and justice is, who can’t agree with each other? Do we need despots, who by their own view will try to correct mistakes and solve the humanity’s problems, defeat this society’s flaws?

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 17 Transformation of an image of American superhero

Obviously, the subject of superheroes’ opposition can’t have any effect on culture of those nations, who consume Hollywood’s production. More than that, it touches the backbone of any society – the question of initial categories of morale: justice, honor, truth, freedom etc. Demonstrating on an example of people with superabilities, that understanding this very morale can be very blurry, the society is being led to widened moral borders, admitting in culture such things and happening, that earlier have not been allowed. Indeed, even the superheroes can’t make sense, what is right.


What conclusions one may draw from the said above? The first and the most important outcome, which we have to repeat from one article to another, from one material to another, that all created media content – is not simply an entertainment, but also information, which is able to affect minds and the culture in general. In this meaning comics’ heroes acts as characters of a new era’s mythology – the ear of mass media. They make deeds of valor, confront evil, put us in magic worlds, where abilities are endless and the good always wins the bad, but at the same time this very “good” is being more and more hardly distinguished from the bad.

Through happenings, through actions, completed by the superheroes, in the first place, children identify those norms and moral patterns, which one needs to copy and correspond. That’s why anyone can’t be a hero. The hero – is an etalon, and one needs to always remember that. Admixing the hero some untypical traits will inevitably affect the self-awareness of the society, people’s behavior and thinking.

In this context the American cinematograph gives raising concerns. So, the heroes of the myths of the modern era become alcoholics, drug-users, egoists, dreaming about fame and money, and also explicit villains and fringe groups. Here in mind involuntary appear myths of Ancient Greece, where the pantheon of “gods”, semi-gods and heroes also in a great extent represented characters, which made immoral deeds. As likely as not, all these Ancient Greek mythology, which echo still actively appear in our life, have been used in such times with the same goals, that today the world through products of the main “dream factory” is being intruded the cult of the superheroes with their intrigues, dramas, quarrels etc.

transformatsiya obraza amerikanskogo supergeroya 18 Transformation of an image of American superhero

Separately, one may want to highlight the Deadpool – a hero, who, most likely, has given a start of a new superheroic wave, descended sexual perversions. Chances are, counting at those tendencies, which are being observed in the mass media’s environment, aimed at dehumanization and destruction of a family institute, we will soon be able to see on TV-screens even more perverted “positive characters”, openly propagandizing pederasty and other nasty things.

Also it stands to mention that all movies in this article are being put in a chronological order, which allows to track the direction, in which the modern art about the heroes from comics is moving, to observe, how “heroes’” characteristics, their behavior, perception of justice, of the good and the evil etc. are changing.

The “Suicide squad” (the name also speaks for itself), the “Watchmen”, the “American hero” offer a completely new concept of a heroism. According to this concept the superheroes can be simple people with their advantages and disadvantages, with their flaws and vices, they also may do bad things along with the good, can be explicit scums and criminals. If only they do their job of saving the society, and how – is not so important. Their motto – “the ends justify the means”.

Oleg Searching

Translated by Daria Egorova

To stay updated with the latest news and help to promote this information:
Join us on Facebook | Subscribe to YouTube channel | Click "Tweet" on Twitter
And do regular reposts. Thank you!


Leave a comment

Log in with: