Posted by: Doc Comics | April 24, 2010

Superheroes & Post-9/11 Politics

“I would say that America’s response to 9/11 was more conditioned by its obsession with superheroes than vice versa,” observed Prof. Kaufman of Harvard University; “Our view of who was responsible for 9/11 and what to do about it in some ways resembled a superhero plot where a single evil genius imperils America.”  This view echoes the critique of Lawrence & Jewett on the American Superhero Monomyth, but superhero comics are also increasingly reflexive in how they navigate these weighty social issues related to post-9/11 politics. Notes an IO9 survey of post-9/11 Sci-Fi: “Mark Millar’s Civil War comic book series (2006-7) dealt with what happens to the superheroes of the Marvel universe when Congress passes the ‘superhero registration act’ and forces all heroes to be tracked in the name of fighting terror. Hero fights hero in this response to the Bush Administration‘s efforts to track Muslims and other ‘undesirables.'”  This brush between superheroes and real-world political tensions made Civil War controversial for some and relevant for others.

As one commentary observes: “the politically inspired stories of the [Global] War on Terror era have been remarkable not only for their ubiquity and sophistication, but also in the way they have exposed — and sometimes exploded — the political ideas embedded in the superhero genre itself.”  Not unlike what the Wachowski Brothers did in updating the V For Vendetta film to reflect Bush-era anxieties, Millar’s Civil War provokes discussion of incredibly important beliefs, values, and policies that cut to the core of American values.

Was/is Tony right? Some think in an era of lawless terrorism, he has a valid point.


As always, cruise the comments for input, insights, and updated links to outside source material!


  1. “Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy—and a Mess. Can the Movies Fix It?”

  2. Political pundits on Civil War: Iron Man Was Right

  3. “Marvel’s Civil War and its Politics, Explained.”

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