Introduction

Mass media is able to shape our opinions and dialogs in ways we might not even know. This is why I find it necessary to analyze popular films and the ideals perpetuated by them. Over the course of this blog I will be analyzing the authoritarian ideologies that I find in superhero films. Superhero movies have been the dominant movie genre for more than a decade. Disney has turned Marvel into a money making machine. However, what values do these films promote? A lone hero, or small group of heroes, acting outside the law as judge, jury and executioner. No one elected Tony Stark, or Captain America. Superheroes act alone with no oversight. Oftentimes heroes view laws as an obstacle to overcome. They abide by the principles of “might makes right”. Violence is the means by which they accomplish their goals. The values promoted in superhero movies are at odds with the ideals of representative democracy. Over the past couple decades there has been a rise in authoritarianism. People all around the world have looked to a lone “strong man” to lead them. We have seen the rise of authoritarians like Vladmire Putin, Narendra Modi, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and former US President Donald Trump. Mr. Trump was elected at a time when the public fascination with superheroes was at an all time high. People had been conditioned by superhero movies to look for a lone savior to save the day. The heros in these movies often remind me of when Trump said “I alone can fix it”. I want to examine the connection between authoritarian values and the values promoted by superhero films.

The superhero film genre provides an interesting insight into the values we support. Superhero’s are meant to represent the best in our society. They are meant to be models in which we are meant to mold our selves. However, the superhero does not make for a good role model. The role models in a democratic-republic should share the ideals of a democratic-republic. In this sense the role model should use diplomacy instead of violence, and should be accountable to the public. Each blog post will end with a discussion of a movie that promotes the values of a democratic republic.

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