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Film Genres

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A short introduction to Superhero films

A cycle of contemporary Hollywood films adapted from comic books and featuring heroic characters with superhuman powers. Superheroes have been part of the hinterland of US cinema since the 1930s, with characters such as Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, and Superman appearing in comic books, newspaper comic strips, radio serials, and television programmes. However, the dedicated, large-budget, special-effects heavy, superhero film is a relatively recent phenomenon, usually traced back to the New Hollywood blockbuster Superman (Richard Donner, 1978) and its sequels. The subsequent success of Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), which achieved a reimagining, or rebooting, of a pre-existing superhero character by combining adult themes, moral angst, and a dark, noirish mise-en-scene with high octane fight sequences, encouraged Hollywood producers to seek out similar superhero franchises through the 1990s. Films such as The Rocketeer (Joe Johnston, 1991), The Crow (Alex Proyas, 1994), and Blade (Stephen Norrington, 1998), struggled to emulate Burton’s success, but X-Men (Brian Singer, 2000), Spider-Man (Sam Raimi, 2002) and a further Batman reboot, Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005), ensured that the superhero film would become Hollywood’s commercially dominant genre in the 21st century (see also computer games).

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2020). superhero film. In A Dictionary of Film Studies. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 17 Mar. 2021

Finding library resources for superheros

To find superhero resources in the Library's collections, you can click on one of the subject headings below:

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book title(s)

Finding scholarly articles & journals

Articles and other writings about superhero films can be found in many publications. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find relevant articles.

A selected list of superhero films

Find more superhero movies in the library's collections.

Keeping up with the journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Film Studies? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's you can download and read the articles you want.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's now available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.