A staple of the superhero genre is the tendency to concoct these elaborate scenarios where "good guys" end up having to fight each other for some reason. This is often framed as a way to resolve their interpersonal issues before they can go beat up the “bad guys” and save the world. The ultimate macho pissing contest. Who’s the toughest tough guy of them all? How do superheroes make friends? By punching each other. How do you resolve conflicts, big and small? By punching each other. Whose plan will be followed? How is trust built among teammates? Face-punching can accomplish all this and more. We need to raise questions at the model of male bonding and friendship-building by way of violence.Do we? OK. If you say so.
Back before The Avengers were household names, superheroes were the domain of geekdom, and particularly “geek guys” who, to some degree, felt personally ostracised and disillusioned by the ideals of stereotypical tough-guy manhood in mainstream culture. Despite being made to feel subordinate to concepts of hypermasculinity, many geek guys have nonetheless embraced superheroes that embody hypermasculine traits and values. They tend to idolise those ideals despite being alienated from them as individuals. This self-identification with hypermasculinity is no doubt one of the factors in the rampant misogyny that plagues the comic book industry and community. The particular brand of superhero masculinity represents a popular conception of what it means to be a “real man,” a conception that is not relegated solely to the realms of fantasy. Hypermasculinity manifests everywhere in our culture and can be seen reflected in politics….ZZZZzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzz….
Eh? What? Sorry, I must have drifted off there for a bit.
I’m awake now! Pray carry on, Jonathan!
One common reaction I encounter whenever I bring up these questions is….A solid punch on the nose? No?
… the concern that there's no way to create exciting dramatic tension or conflict in movies, other than resorting to violence as the ultimate resolution. Of course, that’s not true, as evidenced by one of the most exciting and intense pictures of the year, The Martian. A remarkable thing about that film is that it contains absolutely no violence or killing. All problems are solved through science, cooperation and human creativity. And yet the filmmakers behind The Martian managed to create a widely successful, thrilling, edge-of-your-seat blockbuster. Given the current state of the world, we could certainly do with a hell of a lot more heroes who solve complex problems with innovation and ingenuity rather than by punching each other in the face. Perhaps it's time to move on from these tired masculinised concepts.*sighs* ‘The Martian’ is as much a fantasy as superheroes dukin’ it out. They are all fantasy. They are entertainment. Nothing more.
If you can’t handle that much excitement, there’s always a ‘My Little Pony’ rerun on the Cartoon Channel, or something.