Saturday, July 30, 2011

End of Call for Papers Period: Early Observations

As we draw to the close of our Call for Papers Period (on Sunday 31st July), we thought this would be a good opportunity to summarise some of our findings, and to assure you all that we will be continuing to post entries about the project, and about superhero texts. 

While it would be easy to assume that superheroes have travelled the globe beginning from American origin points, this has often not been the case, as shown by early examples of non-American superheroes like the Mysterions in Japan or Darna, from the Phillippines, one of the world's first superheroines (see our earlier posts for more on these superheroes). Even the marketing, merchandising and adaptation processes we see so often in relation to blockbuster American franchises have be mirrored within local global cultures (see our earlier post on Sailor Moon, for example). Moreover, the blockbuster superhero productions from America also have their world cinema counterparts in high profile Bollywood and Chinese films in particular (see posts on Mr and Mrs Incredible, and information about Ra.One and Krrish).But there are also independent, low-budget versions of the superhero being made within world cinema, for instance Griff the Invisible from Australia, or La Mujer Murcielago (see earlier posts for more).

World television, too, has produced some exceptional superheroes ranging from Bananaman to Misfits in the UK alone, covering the gamut from children's animated television to more gritty adult shows. Television provides  perhaps the best examples of imaginative re-workings of the idea of the superhero for different local contexts, with animation providing the potential of grandeur and scope; with the sitcom providing ironic reinterpretations of the superhero; with soap operas and dramas creating a space for super-families on screen and with television series giving a longer life to these varied interpretations than would ever be possible in a film (or even film franchise).

In these ways, then, we believe that superheroes do not just follow "the American Way", but interact with culture in complex, challenging and exciting ways that speak to our changing understanding of contemporary globalisation; a globalisation that includes as many local, national inputs as it does American.

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