Superheroes You Should Love: Episode 1

Bonus Episode:  Superheroes You Should LoveScott sits down with Leslie Foster and tries to get to the bottom of our love of superheroes.

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This Week’s Investigation:  Superheroes You Should Love!

  • The Superhero Media Crossover Project, by Butcher Billy
  • 0:00-5:47:  Scott’s Intro!  We have always had our heroes.  In the 1940’s, however, we had the birth of a new kind of hero:  The superhero.  We’ve had had radio plays, TV shows, and movies dedicated to those who fight for truth and justice while wearing brightly colored tights.  It’s been 70 years since those caped crusaders showed up, and we’re still flocking to the theater to see them thwart dastardly deeds with derring-do.  Of all the genres, trends, and fads to have come and gone since World War II, why have the superheros not faded from glory?  What makes them so persistently relevant?
  • 5:32-6:16:  “Superman [Sunman Prototype]” can be found here, and the story behind it can be found here.
  • 5:54-28:03:  Leslie Foster and Scott discuss the origins of the superhero, as well as some of the themes, ideas, and subconscious draws of the superhero genre.
  • Misfits
  • Hellboy
  • 24:38-26:37:  Why don’t superheroes like guns?
  • 27:00-28:55:  Leslie discusses his current project, Until We Have Faces.
  • 29:00-31:02:  Outro!

Comments

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Writer. Day Dreamer. Narnian.

Comments

  1. Douglas says:

    Just started listening to this series and am wondering if you know or know of Christopher Knowles who wrote Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes which touches on some of the themes you are discussing here. I am only into the first interview so maybe he is brought up.

    You can also search his name on iTunes and find at least the Binnall of America podcast interview.

    I have yet to get his book but it is on my list. I mostly buy used books so it is a bit of a hunt. If I don’t find it at a good price soon I will probably order it from Amazon.

    1. Scott says:

      I have not read that book, but I’ll look it up. I’m making my way (still) through Grant Morrison’s “Supergods,” which I can’t recommend enough.

  2. Douglas says:

    I’m still only into the first interview but looking at the topics, “Why don’t superheroes like guns?” the first idea that pops into my mind is: The same reason a 6 year doesn’t like training wheels after he learns how to balance on his bike.

    But I will have to listen for your insights.

    1. Scott says:

      I like your theory. Let me know what you think of mine when you finish the episode.

  3. Douglas Ratcliff says:

    Listening to your response as to why superheroes eschew guns led my thinking into other areas. I know you are a Doctor Who fan but what about Torchwood? My thinking leads to mild spoilers for the first two seasons.

    I’m not recommending the first two seasons of Torchwood it’s just that if you plan on watching them what I would pull from them might spoil some things for you.

    1. Scott says:

      I’ve had a hard time getting into Torchwood. I’ve started season 1 several times and often end up losing interest. That being said, I have seen “Season 3,” Children of Earth, and think it’s some pretty phenomenal sci-fi. I love it so much, I come back to the show every now and again, but I’ve never been able to stick through it.

  4. Douglas Ratcliff says:

    Okay, well then I will include mild spoilers for the first two seasons of Torchwood.

    You talk about how most Superheroes draw the line at killing and I agree with with that but I would say most American heroes draw that line. I grew up in the days before cable. We had three major networks, one independent UHF station and PBS.

    One of the things this meant is old TV shows from the 50s and 60s were constantly rerun and Sunday morning after church WTMJ our local NBC affiliate in Milwaukee would show The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Sargent Preston of the Yukon, and the East Side Kids. While I don’t remember Sargent Preston and Cisco as well, I do remember they were all pretty well armed but eschewed killing or even firing their weapons if it could be avoided.

    In the late 70s or early 80s, we got The Incredible Hulk with the late, great Bill Bixby (who also heavily influenced me as the early 1970s Magician) and a handful of pilots and failed Marvel superhero shows such as The Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, and, perhaps, the best of them all, a pilot for Doctor Strange. And what bothered me about many of these adaptations is, if there were bad guys, they used guns. There were no real super villains to step forward and challenge these heroes, except Doctor Strange who had Nightmare, or a character a lot like Nightmare. In most of these cases, the good guys didn’t use guns but the bad guys did. And it would exasperate me from the POV of a comics book fan.

    So, what I am discovering from exploring this topic is that guns are almost incidental. The Punisher is a very damaged psyche but he was a weapons expert and I don’t know that you can really put him in the hero category. I don’t quite remember his back story but didn’t the Kingpin or some other mob murder his family and he went on a revenge spree? I think he was also inspired by the Death Wish movies of the 70s and 80s so right there you had the Punisher in a way that worked maybe if the movies stole more from Paul Kersey and didn’t try to make the Frank Castle into a hero it would work better. In fact, I pretty much only remember the Punisher and Spider-man hanging out and Spider-man trying to help Frank to stop killing people.

    Finally, I would like to make an observation on the first two seasons of Torchwood. While The Doctor never ever (well almost) used a gun, Torchwood was a very different show and I found it interesting and exasperating that whenever the team’s life was threatened during the first two seasons, they always froze up. It took the ersatz American hero, Captain Jack Harkness, to come barging in through the door with guns a-blazing to save the hapless Brits who faced down interdimensional monsters with nary a flinch yet feared guns. I thought it was both rubbish and an interesting comment on how at least Russell Davies sees Americans.

    Hopefully this is cogent and you enjoy my observations half as much as I enjoy the podcast.

    1. Scott says:

      Those are some fantastic observations! Thank-you for taking the time to share them!

      While I haven’t seen a lot of Torchwood, I can say that the mindset you describe definitely evident in Doctor Who as well. In the two-part opener of Series 6 (the ones that introduced The Silence), The Doctor is in the White House and is nonplussed by everyone pointing a gun at him until someone reminds him that these are Americans and immediately he throws his hands in the air, “don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!”

      It’s definitely an interesting topic. Especially now having seen Iron Man 3, a movie in which the heroes have no problem killing the bad guy. They use guns, rockets, and whatever else is at their disposal. Guns are definitely a tool that can be used for good or ill, depending on whose hands the gun is in, but it definitely seems — as you pointed out — that they are often in the hands of bad guys in our TV shows. I wonder if it was on purpose or on accident? Perhaps knowing they were going to be spending a chunk of the episode’s budget on the Hulk’s costuming or Spider-Man’s wall-crawling effect, they didn’t have the money to bring some of the villains to life and so, in order to level the playing field, they gave the bad guy a gun. I don’t know. It is interesting, though.

  5. Douglas Ratcliff says:

    If you haven’t already seen it, check out Superman vs. The Elite on Netflix. I think it is my favorite animated adventure of any available on Netflix. And while nothing to do with the gun discussion, it does delve into some very interesting discussions of America and Britain’s view of each other debated via superheroes.

    1. Scott says:

      I own that movie. I love it and you’re right, it does have something to do with this conversation.

      That story was written to explore the role of a classic hero in an anti-hero worshipping world. Superman has often been panned by critics as a big, dumb, blue boy scout. In that story we get the writer’s answer as to why heroes should never cross that line. If these superpowered demigods killed everyone that didn’t line up with their ideals, they would become fearful tyrants. They would become the villains of the story.

      Maybe that’s why they don’t carry guns but the bad guys do. Bad guys are willing to kill someone who doesn’t go along with their plan.

  6. Douglas Ratcliff says:

    Just so.