Common Masculine Themes of Superheroes Explained in Complex Masculinities: The Superhero in Modern American Movies

Common Masculine Themes of Superheroes Explained in Complex Masculinities: The Superhero in Modern American Movies

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Complex Masculinities: The Superhero in Modern American Movies attempts to encapsulate the essential elements that make masculinities complex by means of mass media. The question of where and why superheroes have held such a salient position in the last decade is aroused when it is media who is the deciding factor in institutionalizing masculinity. When looking at the surface of a superhero movie, dominant hegemonic characteristics are the epitome of the superhero and reflect the roles and values society holds of a “real man”. But, further insight as to why superheroes are constructed as they are, reflect society’s insecurities of real issues the public deals with; the post 9/11 world is relieved when faced with an unrealistic masculine superhero that repeatedly does good. The underlying idea is that media constructs and deconstructs masculinity to fit the needs of society who imbeds these ideas into the norms and roles of what it means to be a man. This article proves to accurately argue this position yet, leaves out that fact that this only points to one side of masculinity and others have their own ideas and interpretations of superhero movies. A greater emphasis on a conflict theorist perspective could aid this article in providing how superhero movies reflect the ideologies of the dominant class and how their interests are being promoted within the superhero figure.

The central question as to what makes masculinity a complex ideology is explained through a means of a superhero. To better understand masculinity, it must be broken down into its origins. The main point the author emphasizes is that masculinity is something that is constructed and created, rooted from society's cultural beliefs. It is never static, in other word...


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...uperhero movies are increasingly put out to explain underlying issues, yet sway us to prefer a specific type of gendered body. Standards of masculinity are constantly being redefining to an increasingly improved version of itself and often push society’s expectations and standards as each generation renews itself. What is “ideal” in superheroes is often unrealistic but, society will keep accepting that as normal and continually want better.

Almost all superhero movies fail to challenge the heterosexual masculinity which is expressed in the heroic characters. The superhero is always the same white, confident, muscular male whom exudes power and sex-appeal to suit audiences and make money for the production. Though the superhero is complex in which he struggles with his identity, emotions and complicated love life, he still captures a one sided view of masculinity.

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