Thanks to all who turned out for the Northeast Modern Language Association’s session on Edgar Allan Poe in popular culture! Now I’m about to present at 11:45 AM Eastern as part of the DC vs Marvel panel. Follow along with this linked slide presentation, and feel free to submit questions there or on Twitter, hashtags #NeMLA17 #S621.
MST3K comes to Netflix in April, tech specs on Nintendo Switch, and a lot of anime news.
Diversity in Fan Culture
Last year at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA), my colleague Mary Ellen Iatropoulos and I were happy to host Lisa Perdigao on our academic roundtable about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This year, for NeMLA’s 2017 convention in Baltimore, Lisa is organizing a panel on rivalries, not just within Marvel Comics but as it pertains to its long-lasting competition with fellow comic book publisher DC Comics.
DC and Marvel have collaborated in the past for crossovers and amalgamations of their fictional universes, revealing the parallels between them, such as Batman and Daredevil (or Iron Man), Green Arrow and Hawkeye, Atom and Ant Man, Superman and Captain America (or Thor)–or just so we could see a fistfight between the Justice League and the Avengers, or watch Superman wield Captain America’s shield and Mjolnir.
This competition has moved off of the comic book pages and onto the silver screen. Whereas Marvel has embraced a fun, eclectic blending of various genres in its numerous film adaptations from Disney and other film studios, DC has remained fixed largely at Warner Bros and has persisted with a grim portrayal of superheroes that has appealed to some fans and irritated many others. It’s even inspired popular web parodies. This shift from comics to film production even resulted in a new bicoastal rivalry: DC Comics has moved to Hollywood, while Marvel Comics stays in New York City.
This CFP also has the potential for presentations not necessarily as to the rivalry between DC and Marvel, but a comparison of how the two comic book companies portray rivalries. How does the rivalry between Superman and Batman differ from that between Captain America and Iron Man? How are metahumans portrayed differently from mutants and inhumans? What is it about superhero stories that perpetuate the idea of rivalries rather than collaboration?
And that’s not even touching upon all of the other works that DC and Marvel have created but which are outside of the superhero genre, such as literary adaptations, The Sandman, Preacher, and Lucifer.
Obviously, there are a wealth of topics for consideration to this CFP, and I strongly encourage interested scholars to submit to Lisa’s session, or to forward this CFP to interested colleagues.
The full CFP is below.
Marvel vs. DC: Civil War?
Northeast Modern Language Association
Baltimore, March 23-26, 2017
Chair: Lisa Perdigao (Florida Institute of Technology)
Deadline: September 30, 2016
Submit 300-word abstracts and short bios online at https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/16494
Released in spring 2016, Captain America: Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice converge on the narrative of a house divided. Marvel’s and DC’s staging of the wars between their respective superheroes is suggestive of a larger battle between the two franchises that dates back to the comics. These two films represent turning points for the companies, as they threaten to disassemble the Avengers and the Justice League as soon as—and even before—they are created. Adapted from the comics, the films’ narratives highlight central tensions within the individual universes as well as the ongoing rivalry between the two companies.
This panel will explore how the concept of civil war plays out within and between the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and DC Entertainment films and television series. Papers are sought that examine individual Marvel and DC works (comics, films, and television series), the expansive Marvel and DC universes, and the relationship between the two rival companies. Possible topics include the difficulties of assembling a superteam in the twenty-first century, the race to utilize new mediums in the digital age, and the conflicting ideologies represented by Marvel and DC.
After an excellent season, the finale for Supergirl is underwhelming.
“Better Angels” is much more subdued compared to last week’s episode, “Myriad.” Last week was more focused on action and suspense: all of National City, including Superman, is controlled by Non (Chris Vance) and the Brainiac unit Indigo (Laura Vandervoort), who have deployed the mind-controlling device Myriad, which can also be used to overwhelm human brains until they explode. Yet in this week’s episode, even before the show’s title card, Supergirl already frees all of National City with a message of hope. There seems not to be even a bit of gentle self-awareness that this is too clean a resolution: Kara (Melissa Benoist) overcomes the mind-control with a message of hope, and Non does not bother to try mind control again, whether on National City or another location.
The benefit to this lighter touch is that it becomes an episode that, in many ways, suits all of Season 1: it allows the characters to decompress from mind control and the ramifications of not just this episode but the entire season, whether that includes Kara and James’s (Mehcad Brooks) feelings for each other, Maxwell Lord’s (Peter Facinelli) currently tense temporary alliance with the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), or Kara’s own conflicted emotions around the traumatic experiences, including the destruction of Krypton and the potential need that she sacrifice her life right now. Yet all of this can be underwhelming for a superhero show: at a certain point, I want superpowered people in capes performing feats no mere human can accomplish.