Posted by: Doc Comics | March 30, 2010

Paper #2: Superheroes Animated

For your second paper, you should choose one of the many animated superhero movies available and offer your own ideological rhetorical analysis of the class, gender, and race dynamics in the film (with each of the 3 getting a section).  Drawing upon course concepts and readings, and citing at least 3 reviews of your film that critically engage these latent meanings and themes, follow syllabus guidelines for “writing critical essays” to tease out some of the hegemonic and counter-hegemonic elements at work in your animated adventure.  A good place to begin your analysis is with Hart’s critical probes for Fantasy Theme Analysis (and these probes for narrative analysis may also prove helpful) as you trace how closely your movie adheres to Lawrence & Jewett’s Superhero Monomyth using the D.I.E.T. formula. Next, after your description of these prior elements, offer a brief interpretation and evaluation for each of the 3 categories (class, gender, & race) before your conclusion theorizes the ideological messages and hegemonic meanings/beliefs/values/roles being championed in your text.

Several of the Comics News sites on the blogroll offer reviews of animated features, but scanning a simple Google search should yield some potentially helpful critical evaluations that you can engage.  In class I’d mentioned the example of The Incredibles (2004), which got criticized (and celebrated) for it’s conservative class politics, called out by feminists on its gender portrayals, and a shrug for its racial tokenism.  Of course, the REAL point isn’t to dismissively label the movie as political propaganda or apolitical entertainment, but to instead closely analyze which elements are hegemonic, which offer counter-hegemonic innovation or possibility, and finally what ideological persuasive work is ultimately being done through the film to “naturalize” certain presumptions, beliefs, values, and behaviors that foreclose other possibilities.

White Middle-Class "family values" means the Patriarch saves the world, boys are defiant and girls uncertain, and Mom takes care of the baby while the token Black sidekick offers wise-cracking support?

Requirements: 5-10 typed pages (stapled, double-spaced, 12pt font, 1” margins, MLA format, spellchecked & grammar-checked with at least 5 sources) and demonstrate a proficient grasp of readings, concepts, debates, and applicable theories.  Due Wednesday April 7th!

NOTE: for those students interested in an opportunity for extra credit, check the comments section of the midterm post (with SuperNietzsche).



  1. For a couple of examples, here is an article that argues Frank Miller’s Batman in Dark Knight exhibits nostalgia for the Frontier Hero Myth, and here is a review of the Wonder Woman animated feature that digs on some of its gender themes.

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