Until recently the superhero has been considered largely an American phenomenon. This edited book collection is designed to open up the realm of the superhero to further debate in a moment of heightened inter-cultural exchange and transcultural production and reception. As part of this series of debates we are seeking to investigate the relationship between American superheroes and those that have been produced in other local cultures.
Superheroes are becoming an increasingly visible part of cultures far beyond American borders. This is in part due to the ways cultures have historically produced their own superheroes in response to America’s screen incarnations of popular comic book figures. From the Fillipino superheroine Darna, who first appeared in film in 1951 and is among the first superheroines, to the Japanese television incarnation of Spider-Man (see: http://marvel.com/videos/watch/563/japanese_spiderman_episode_01), the concept of the superhero has long been a part of global discourse.
This stated, these local, non-American superheroes have, until very recently, been hard to find. We argue that the digital shift in (re-)production, along with the Internet, now allow us as academics far greater access to information about locally produced superheroes than has been possible in the past. Whether legal or grey-market fan-subtitled in origin, the local superhero is becoming increasingly global. Moreover, the American superhero, long dominant in global screen markets is now more prominent than in preceding decades and this has potential consequences outside America that are, as yet, little discussed and understood. We hope that in posing the questions of: whose superheroes are being watched, and by whom?; and, what do superheroes mean when dislocated from their original national contexts?, that we will spark further discussions about global flows in superheroes, and about how superheroes are understood in myriad local contexts around the world.