PCA Superhero Film Genre

Evaluating the Superhero Film Genre: Up, Up, and Away
Ryan Lagerstrom, Tyler D. Welch
Independent scholars

Where superhero movie came from, where we are today, future guessing

What is the genre?
“distinguished by a characteristic set of conventions in style, subject matter, and values” Louis Giannetti, Understanding Movies

blueprint –formula, patterns
structure—indiv framework
contract—audience expectations
Rick Altman Film/Genre

Giannetti’s model of genre life:
Primitive stage
Classical stage
Revisionist stage
Parody stage
Cultural death

How does this model relate to superhero genre?

primitive = tropes
classical = canonized
revisionist = questioned
neoclassical = classical and revisionist tropes like
Spiderman, The Dark Knight, Avengers
Spiderman is very bright and colorful. Undoubtedly good hero. Classical.
The Dark Knight much more revisionist movie. Questions hero’s ethics.
Avengers equal blend of two. Classical superhero good v evil and good guys win. But at same time, characters much more flawed. Ironman alcoholic, sleeps around. Hulk desperately trying to restrain his power. 2 have no power.

Revisionist films happen concurrently with the neoclassical stage. Critique is fed immediately into the new films being made.

Parody has jumped mediums. Almost entirely located on internet. Mocked, laughed at, but unlike in 4-stages, it acts as a wink and a nod—We all love this anyway.

Then revisionist 2.0 or mainstream decline or ???

We will not be bereft of superhero films any time soon.
After the neoclassical stage, what will happen?
Revisionist 2.0 more serious, normal human point of view is lost, so maybe adaptation of normal human POV
Mainstream decline May burst the bubble because we’ve seen so many.

Giannetti’s 4-stages of genre theory “does not allow for the theory’s growth beyond the parody stage”

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