Theories of Violence from Superhero Blockbusters

My interest here is in what these movies try to say about the world and the place of violence — evil or righteous – in it. As American films in a world where the United States still possesses more military firepower than any other country (as example, in 2016 the US defence budget nearly topped the next fifteen largest national defence budgets combined), it is difficult not to view these films as metaphors for US power, regardless of the various nationalities of the characters. The launching point for these thoughts is Wonder Woman: the first female-led superhero movie, notably directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins. One could examine the film, as many have, from a feminist perspective, in which the film appears as a triumph of female power. More interesting to me is, given the amount of violence on display in the genre, what does a film want to say about violence? In this, Wonder Woman is a serious backward step from the emerging trend of more established superhero franchises that have recently projected a sense of unease about the inevitable harms and trade-offs that come with reliance on destructive force.

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