Superhero Films: A Fascist National Complex or Exemplars of Moral Virtue?

Journal of Religion & Film

This paper deals with the “why” regarding our collective desire for superhero narratives. My goal is to build on the many definitions of a superhero and find a framework that we as scholars can use to evaluate how superhero films present inspirational moral virtue and not zealous nationalism of any kind. In the process I want to address the problems with some of the scholarly work done on the connection to superheroes and heroism both historically and immediately after 9/11, particularly those who have argued that American superheroism is a fascist myth, and show how the recent evolution of the superhero genre in film gives us much to learn from. Therefore, superheroes do not create a fascist national complex but are instead popular because they create and revolve around inspirational virtue, such as those Mark White used to describe Captain America. All superheroes are inspirational because of these moral virtues: courage, humility, righteous indignation, sacrifice and responsibility, and perseverance. These virtues may be applied differently, but their role in defining superheroes transcends individual characters. Therefore, regardless of who we side with in Captain America: Civil War and Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, we do so because we see these virtues realized within the world of superheroes.

Recommended Citation

Yogerst, Chris
“Superhero Films: A Fascist National Complex or Exemplars of Moral Virtue?,”
Journal of Religion & Film: Vol. 21
, Article 37.
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Since April 01, 2017


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