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In M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable, the character Mr. Glass (portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson) posits that the world is in need of new heroes---and this is why David Dunn (portrayed by Bruce Willis) has been imbued with superpower.  According to Mr. Glass, a new era, an era of despair has led to destiny granting these abilities to Dunn in order to provide the world with hope.

            Watchmenseems to prescribe to a very similar notion in why superheroes came to exist in the universe the novel posits.  It deals not only with the era of these heroes' existence, but the aftermath of their lives when they have ceased to be necessary.

            What is it about heroes and superheroes that captivate our imaginations? Not only superheroes, but cowboys, astronauts, spies, even knights and wizards---all have captivated audiences and led to thousands of stories being told about them.  For my paper, I would like to use the text of Watchmen as well as the film Unbreakable to attempt to garner a deeper understanding of what role superheroes play in our culture, and why they have been so influential in media. This will delve into cultural and historical implications of the superhero genre specifically through the use of texts and films that are in a sense meta-statements on the genre itself.

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2 Comments

  1. The thing I like best about your project, thus far, is the way that Unbreakable begins to take you out of a narrowly comic-book approach to the subject of heroes.  I'll confess to not having seen Shyamalan's film but would encourage your efforts in that direction.  I tend to hear some alarm bells going off when I read your third paragraph because it's VERY broad and doesn't yet posit a particular approach to the question(s).  You might as easily go back into the mists/mysts of epic history to trace a history of heroes, right?  So I think a lot of work needs to be done in order to avoid arriving at relatively familiar answers.  To take only one ferinstance, some of your remarks about "eras" makes me think that reading more on Nietzsche's Ubermensch might be worthwhile -- and it definitely would be relevant to Watchmen.  Personally, I'm most intrigued by your phrase "the aftermath of their lives when they have ceased to be necessary," which of course might refer to a sort of archetypal "hero's journey" but from my perspective gets at something a little more about the psychology of why people read comics -- smaller in scale, wistful, a level of identification not necessarily about transforming into a Man of Steel.  Anyway, hard to say more at this point.  If you get stuck, please don't hesitate to drop by and talk.

  2. Unknown User (lb13)

    I like how you begin with the film in this abstract showing how you have begun to deconstruct the premise of this paper. This goes along with the way we have deconstructed much of Watchmen within class. Yet I do not get a specific idea of what you are going to be writing about. How are you going to dual text the two pieces? Are you going to compare contrast? Or are they going to be deconstructed and then reconstructed to present the concept of a hero? Over all I like your ideas and the thought behind them. I'm interested to see where you go with this