Once a garish, juvenile embarrassment, superheroes have escaped from the margins of Western culture to become the dominant paradigm for blockbuster entertainment in our moment. In 2019 alone, Avengers: Endgame (dir. Anthony and Joe Russo) pushed the record-breaking tradition of the hyperpopular Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise to its highest heights yet, becoming the number one highest-grossing movie of all time after taking in $2.79 billion at the box office—while the muted, cerebral Joker (dir. Todd Phillips) became the single most profitable superhero film ever, grossing more than $1 billion on a tiny $60 million budget, perhaps inaugurating a new type of middlebrow superhero film in the bargain through its calculated pastiche of critically acclaimed dramas (especially two of Martin Scorsese’s early works, Taxi Driver  and The King of Comedy ). Scorsese (who was for a time attached to Joker as producer...
Comics Grow Up
Gerry Canavan is an associate professor in the English Department at Marquette University, specializing in twentieth- and twenty-first-century literature. An editor at Extrapolation and Science Fiction Film and Television, he has also coedited Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction (2014), The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction (2015), and The Cambridge History of Science Fiction (2019). His first monograph, Octavia E. Butler, appeared in 2016 in the Modern Masters of Science Fiction series at University of Illinois Press.
Gerry Canavan; Comics Grow Up. American Literature 1 June 2020; 92 (2): 357–368. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-8267780
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