2015: The World Unbound
Heroes and Superheroes
Questions to Discuss
- Are there different kinds of heroes?
- Do different societies have different views on what a hero is?
- Are heroic decisions rational decisions?
- What is the so-called “hero’s journey”? Does it apply in real life or just in fiction?
- Is there such a thing as a “villain’s journey”?
- Is heroism a personality disorder?
- What is an antihero?
- How is an antihero different from a villain?
- Are there villains in the real world—and, if so, do they know they are villains?
- Is a superhero just a hero with superpowers?
- If you were a superhero, would you keep your identity a secret?
- In real life, do villains ever think of themselves as villains? How about in fiction?
- How is a hero different from a leader? Or are they the same?
- Is society biased in favor of male heroes? How about superheroes?
- Are there enough stories about women who are heroes?
- Does it mean something different to be a heroic woman than a heroic man?
- Can the superheroes of today be compared to the gods of the ancient world?
- Are superheroes portrayed differently in different media?
- Are superheroes more popular than they used to be? If so, why?
- How different would our world be if we knew that superheroes existed?
- If we were to discover people with special abilities living among us, would we celebrate them—or fear them?
- Are superheroes ultimately an American creation reflecting or serving American interests?
Origin Stories: Calling All Heroes
- Prometheus Unbound: Heroes of Ancient Civilizations
- Medieval Heroes: Long Live the King (and the Rogue)
- The Golem, the Monkey King, and the Original Superheroes
One for All: Understanding the Hero
- The Heroic Mind: Insights from Psychology
- The Hero in Society: Insights from Anthropology and Sociology
- The Monomyth and the Hero’s Journey
With Great Power: Superheroes of the 20th and 21st Centuries
- Emergence in Comic Books
- The Comics Code Authority
- The Social and Historical Context of Superheroes
- Ascendance of Film Franchises
- Role of Superheroes in a Postmodern World
Can We Be Superheroes? The Science of… (Examples)
- Enhanced Vision | Exoskeletons | Human Flight
- Invisibility | Rapid Healing | Strength and Super-strength
- Super speed | Telepathy | Telekinesis
- Teleportation | Time Travel
Additional Terms to Learn (Examples)
- Achilles’ Heel | Archetype | Byronic Hero | Comicon
- Bystander effect | Epic | Everyman | Fatal Flaw
- Great Man Theory | Hero Worship | Hubris
- MCU | Paragon | Pulp | Risk-Seeking
- Sidekick | Trope | Villain | X-Altruist
Additional Superheroes to Research (Examples)
- Astro City | Wild Cards | Squirrel Girl
- Batman | Iron Man | Ms. Marvel (2014)
- Captain America | Superman | Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Goku | Captain China | Wonder Woman
- X-Men | Spiderman | Sylar
Additional Questions & Cases to Discuss (Examples)
- Would Superman have been a Soviet hero if he had landed in Russia instead of Kansas as a baby? In other words, to what degree does the fate of a superhero depend on nature versus nurture?
- Should it be a goal of well-functioning societies to "destroy as many opportunities for heroism as possible"?"
- Why do some people sacrifice themselves to save others, while others stand back and hope for the best -- or run the other way? In other words, what is the psychology of heroism?
- Are Byronic heroes more popular than traditional heroes? Are they more desirable?
- Are there genetic and personality similarities between heroes and villains?
- Do Thomas Carlyle’s six types of heroism still apply today? Do they omit any kinds of heroism that have become prevalent in the 20th and 21st centuries?
- Can animals be heroes too?
- Should superheroes be more ethnically and culturally diverse?
- Did 9/11 jumpstart a new era of interest in superheroes? How long will it last?
- Are superheroes the Greek gods of today’s world?
- Why are there so few notable British (and non-American) superheroes?