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Film Genres: Superhero films

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 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.

Kuhn, A., & Westwell, G. (2012). "Superhero film." In A Dictionary of Film Studies. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 Jan. 2017

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 titles

Finding articles & journals

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

About?

Dartmouth Users: Using Summon from off-campus? You'll need VPN for access to full-text.

A Selected list of superhero films

Find more superhero movies.