You can smile at superheroes, find them stupid, demonize them because they dominate the big screen. But one thing you can definitely do with them or their authors not accuse: that they did not have the problems of the world in view. Superheroes are often born for one reason only: to master situations that move society or that are overwhelming for humanity.
Captain America, for example, took on the Nazis as early as 1941, knocking out Hitler on the cover of his first comic book. The X-Men were invented in the early 1960s by Stan Lee as a metaphor for the civil rights movement: a group of militant outsiders who oppose public marginalization. And Captain Planet was conceived in the early 90s to make young people aware of the growing environmental pollution and to motivate them to take initiative.
Captain Planet, Earth Hero
Wait a minute: Captain who? Yes, exactly. Anyone who is not transported into the global pop culture memory by elaborately produced blockbusters is virtually nonexistent – at least far away from the US borders, where comics are still far more important than in Europe. Only the supernerds among the 90s kids remember the cartoon series hero with the green hair and blue skin who fights environmental villains together with the planeteers.
Captain Planet (1990) (German) | Retro themes
For years comic experts have spoken of the fact that superheroes should expand the spectrum of the world’s greatest threats. Anthony Lioi, professor at the Juillard School in New York City, said in a 2016 interview: “The superhero narrative has long been about apocalyptic doomsday scenarios. The nuclear threat has preoccupied an entire generation. Now the focus is gradually shifting to climate change . “
Thor and the oil company
As an example, Lioi cited the recently published comic book “The Last Days of Midgard”: an adventure of the god of thunder Thor, who fought against the corrupt oil company Roxxon in the booklet – an easily recognizable allusion to Exxon, the company that In the late 1980s for the serious oil spill in Alaska was responsible.
The enemy is sitting in the cinema seat
Why the eco-superhero is stuck in the infamous “Development Hell” of Hollywood is unknown. It is possible that the threat of “climate change” does not offer potential donors enough escapism options. After all, the dangers that screen superheroes eradicate are often so unrealistic that you can’t help but forget about everyday life. Climate change is man-made, so the enemy is sitting in the cinema. And who wants to be reminded that posting a Captain Planet hashtag is not enough to save the world?
On the other hand, the agenda of superhero stories has long been a more or less subtle call to action: be it the courage to emancipate “Wonder Woman” or the Black Lives Matter theming in “Luke Cage”. So it really is high time to hear the lyrics of the Captain Planet song in Dolby Surround. Because there it says quite clearly: “Take part! The salvation of our earth / only happens with you!” But it would be good if the song wasn’t interpreted as trashy as it was back in the 90s.
Captain Planet – Intro Theme
Save the world for a moment …
The thought creeps up on you every day that a bit of saving the world is currently very popular. KulturWelt wants to know what pop musicians, historians, philosophers, artists, sculptors, superheroes – and maybe Silicon Valley – can actually do AND DO to save us all from the yawning abyss.