Superheroes Understood:

How and why we imagine Superheroes in the first place

Robert Xavier Burden (San Francisco, CA), “Holy Batman,” 2013.
  • The paintings of Andreas Englund (Stockholm), for example, present legendary heroes in ordinary circumstances: carrying bags from the grocery store, swelling out a leotard with a senior-citizen paunch.
  • The sketches of Hannah Rothstein (San Francisco) make a point about the behavior of Superheroes; the titles to her series of mugshots suggest that if they were regular folks, they would be charged with “Indecent Exposure,” “Trespassing,” “Reckless Endangerment,” “Disorderly Conduct,” and the like.
  • And the artists of the Foto Marvellini Collective (Milan) provides antique photographs of Batman’s ancestors–quite dashing in their pointed-ear costumes–that might hang in the caped wonder’s living room or den.
Foto Marvellini Collective (Milan)
“Minerva Valencia,” photo by Dulce Pinzon.

To most people, Superheroes are just superior beings with masks and powers who dash around, protecting others and defeating the villains. However, what most people don’t realize is that without their masks, Superheroes are regular people just like us. They have to conquer “everyday villains” that come with having jobs, relationships, families, and feelings.

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Writer/critic/professor/journalist: children’s literature, culture, film, travel. Seven books, 100's of essays in NY&LA Times.

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Jerry Griswold

Writer/critic/professor/journalist: children’s literature, culture, film, travel. Seven books, 100's of essays in NY&LA Times.