To what extent does the changing representation of super heroes reflect society’s attitude towards masculinity?

A protagonists/heroes role in every movie is to connect with the audience, they have to invest in the character whether it be excitement, intrigue, lust, sympathy or any other emotion it doesn’t matter what matters is the audience is invested in the character. With the constant evolution of the media different eras of stereotypes for these heroes have passed, some have been more successful than others but were these sudden changes in super heroes reflecting the current events in society and in turn how masculinity was looked upon by society?

A hero can be defined as a ‘person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for their brave deeds and noble qualities’. To fit the definition it seems anyone could be a superhero, however that tends not to be the case as these heroes have to have something special that makes the audience connect with them, in the late 70’s into the early 80’s the movie industry was booming and grossing more money than ever before and one thing was consistent, the representation and appearance of the male hero. A fascination of muscular, larger than life males took place taking over not only the sports world but all grounds of the media including movies. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme among others dominated the red carpet all portraying buff, strong and brave super heroes in some of the highest grossing movies ever at this time. They all possessed enormous amounts of charisma and always had the audience emotionally invested, the talent of these heroes can’t be diminished by putting their success down to their physical appearance but soon a new era of super heroes was going to take over and the muscular physiques began fading out…

Societies romanticizing of men with muscular physiques was reflected in all forms of media and especially movies throughout the 70’s and 80’s but in the early 90’s a scandal would take over America and muscular physiques went from being romanticized to looked down upon and American heroes of the 80’s were publically spotlighted and many had their images chopped down by the media due to a drug which had garnered much negative attention, steroids.

 

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4 thoughts on “To what extent does the changing representation of super heroes reflect society’s attitude towards masculinity?

  1. This is a very interesting topic, although the title is very misleading as you are not talking about super heroes with super powers but action heroes. My suggestion is to slightly change your title

  2. A good start, you should focus more on the changes made over the last few decades rather than describing in detail the essense of the original ‘masculine’ superhero. Try talking about superheroes having everyday problems, personal and family issues, and how they can relate to the audience without the need of strength.

  3. Really great start. I would go on to talk about how superhoeros don’t just have to be adults too. Fims like Kiss-Ass bases children as the superheros and the main protagonist of the film isn’t at all represented as very masculin.

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