The Christian Humanist, Episode #27: Superheroes

General Introduction
– Football season begins
– What’s on the blog?
– An argument about Jaws

Our History with Superheroes
– Crib notes: Only Gilmour was way into comics
– Michial played too many video games
– Marvel vs. DC

Premodern Models of Heroism
– The hero as function of a larger metaphysic
– Greek demigods
– Imperial and national mythology
– A discourse on the supernatural
– The Medieval era crosses the streams
– The virtuous hero

A New Kind of Hero
– Michial prepares a response to the wrong question
– Let’s talk cowboys
– Natty Bumppo rides off into the sunset
– Cowboys as symbols of anarchic freedom
– Abandoning your aristocratic background
– The cowboy code of honor
– Deconstructing the myth

David Rambles
– (GASP)
– The burgeoning market for “yellow literature”
– The birth of Superman/The birth of Lex Luthor
– Science fiction meets detectives

If Anyone Can, the Superman Can!!
– Parsing Nietzsche’s übermensch
– Conflating, then going two-dimensional
– Leopold and Loeb and Raskolnikov
– A response to the Nazis?
– What should the most powerful person on earth do?

The Batman; or, OH, GOOD FUH YOU
– Is Batman a superhero?
– Going dark with the dark knight
– Name that Batman!
– Power vs. time and money
– Adding the pariah superhero

Time to Pick Sides
– Nathan’s bizarre justification of Superman comics
– The tedium of the morally perfect hero
– Breaking the DC false dichotomy
– We choose our favorite X-Men

The Secret Identity
– Protecting loved ones
– Avoiding lawsuits
– Promulgating alienation
– The Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro

Subversions
Watchmen draws out the Nietzschean elements
– Nathan Gilmour, polyanna
– Now we fight about The Incredibles
– Who’s our übermensch?
– With great power comes great responsibility

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Batman Begins. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Perf. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, and Cillian Murphy. Warner Bros., 2005.

Beowulf. Trans. Seamus Heaney. New York: Norton, 2001.

Confucius. The Analects. Trans. Raymond Dawson. New York: Oxford UP, 2008.

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Last of the Mohicans. New York: Penguin, 1986.

—. The Pioneers. New York: Penguin, 1988.

Dead Man. Dir. Jim Jaramusch. Perf. Johnny Depp. Miramax, 1995.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. Trans. David McDuff. New York: Penguin,

The Epic of Gilgamesh. Trans. Andrew George. New York: Penguin, 2003.

High Noon. Dir. Fred Zinnemann. Perf. Gary Cooper. United Artists, 1952.

The Incredibles. Dir. Brad Bird. Perf. Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Jason Lee. Pixar, 2004.

Jones, Gerard. Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Booth. New York: Basic Books, 2005.

Jurgens, Dan. The Death of Superman. New York: DC Comics, 1992.

Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte d’Arthur. New York: Norton, 2003.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller. Dir. Robert Altman. Perf. Warren Beatty and Julie Christie. Warner Bros., 1971.

Miller, Frank. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. New York: DC Comics, 1997.

Moore, Alan and Dave Gibbons. Watchmen. New York: DC Comics, 2008.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One. New York: Penguin, 1961.

The Searchers. Dir. John Ford. Perf. John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter, Vera Miles, Ward Bond, and Natalie Wood. Warner Bros., 1956.

Smith, Henry Nash. Virgin Land: The American West as Symbol and Myth. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1950.

Spider-Man. Dir. Sam Raimi. Perf. Tobey Maguire, Willem Dafoe, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco. Columbia, 2002.

Superman Returns. Dir. Bryan Singer. Perf. Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth, and Kevin Spacey. Warner Bros., 2006.

Unforgiven. Dir. Clint Eastwood. Perf. Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, and Richard Harris. Warner Bros., 1992.

Vonnegut, Kurt. “Harrison Bergerson.” Welcome to the Monkey House: Stories. New York: Dial Press, 1998. 7-14.

X2. Dir. Bryan Singer. Perf. Patrick Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Ian McKellan, Halle Berry, Famke Janssen, James Marsden, and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. 20th Century Fox, 2003.

1 thought on “The Christian Humanist, Episode #27: Superheroes

  1. “without leaving out the Caped Crusader…”

    Sigh. Stupid sentences morphing into their opposites as I speak them…

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