exit icon
exit icon

The Return of the Supervillain: Locating the Gothic in Marvel’s Superhero Adaptations

The Return of the Supervillain: Locating the Gothic in Marvel’s Superhero Adaptations

Shravya Aradhyam

“I’ll Just Do It Myself”

By the time Action Comics published its first Superman comic in 1938, comic book films were hardly a new concept. Comic books, like almost every narrative medium, has maneuvered its way through various genres and has also had the unique ability to utilise multiple genre conventions at once[1]. Its very nature – that of social commentary through the graphic medium – is based in mixing up known elements to introduce something new. Naturally, the film adaptations of these comic books would also follow the same tradition. This paper looks at how superhero films have utilised elements from Gothic novels of the late 18th century to reintroduce audiences to the Supervillain in overarching filmic narratives, like the one presented in the first three phases of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

Designed (e)specially for children and formatted as serials, early 20th century strip-to-screen adaptations were played at movie theatre matinees on successive Saturday mornings[2]. The early 1900s saw animated cartoons from comic artists developed into film, French cartoonist Emile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie (1908) being one of the first animated films[3]. Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo (1911) and Bud Fisher’s Mutt and Jeff (1911) were both animated features based on comics of the same name. Fleisher Studios’ The Adventures of Superman was an instant hit with iconic lines that defined Superman for many years to come – such as “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” and “…fights for truth, justice, and the American Way!” – with their accompanying visuals setting in stone their intrinsic place in his story.

By late 1940s, Superman, Batman, and Captain America had live action serials of their own, as did other non-superhero comic properties like The PhantomHop HarriganDick Tracy, and Buck Rogers. The advent of classical Hollywood style brought about some changes in film techniques, as did the introduction of the Comics Code Authority in comic books. As a result of these changes, though extremely popular for their time, these serials and films are not considered by comic book scholars or film scholars for anything other than the nostalgic value they offer, if that. A reason for this could be that these serials mostly developed their own material, turning to the comics only for characters that would secure its relevance as a comic book adaptation[4]. The quality of these productions was not great, made cheaply by production houses that could not afford much more[5], resulting in minimal box office returns. The Batman serials of 1943 and 1949 are rarely spoken about, George Reeve’s Superman in Superman and the Mole Men (1951) and The Adventures of Superman (1952-58) provided inspiration for future iterations of the characters[6]. Future writers and producers found ways to keep these characters alive by tying them back to their radio and TV origins – reusing the same dialogues, with guest appearances and other similar playful references[7].

New developments in the 1970s changed American cinema once more, with new directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas placing an importance on special effects and cinematic spectacle[8]. Audiences flocked to these films with expectations of high production values, and they were not disappointed. Since the incorporation of studios into industrial conglomerates in the mid-1960s, new delivery systems of film viewing were introduced, so audiences could watch their favourite films via pay-cable and home-video. Marketing of films had also grown, so films were marketed not just with licensed merchandise, but also through pop songs, computer games, and the creation of transmedia narratives. The Hollywood blockbusters were by no means critically appreciated films, multiple scholars and critics have noted their return to a psychologically and politically regressive outlook[9] and also the film industry’s increasingly narrow focus on the heavily promoted big-budget films[10].  Kramer thus defines New Hollywood “in terms of a postmodern multi-media world which undermines the very notion of ‘film as a distinct medium’”[11]. And it was in this period of film that people believed a man could fly.

Superman: The Movie (1978) was undeniably a huge success, most evident from the sequels that it brought about. Producers were pretty adamant about their film being “100% straight, no spoof, no satire”[12]. Critics as well lauded the filmmaker’s ability to present a film that did not “let the silliness get out of control” when presenting the story of a man who could shoot lasers out of his eyes[13]. Confident in their filmmaking abilities after Superman, Warner Brothers then financed their next crime fighting superhero to the big screen, Batman (1989). Initially met with scepticism and outright backlash for certain casting choices, audiences were relieved to find that this Batman was nothing like Adam West’s interpretation – one that lived on their TV screens and embodied camp attributes. This new Batman was “a more adult kind of story” and became the prototype for what the superhero movie would come to signify[14].

While Marvel was having a harder time getting their characters onto the big screens, they finally had a success in 1998 with Blade. It is incredible that the first film to essentially form the building block for what would come to be Marvel Studios was a vampire movie. Marvel films have had such Gothic elements built into their very foundations, with their first success presenting a film about a vampire hunter fighting to protect humans against evil vampires. Subsequent releases were made in partnership with other production houses, on account of having loaned their properties to companies like 20th Century Fox and Sony. When the X-Men (2000-2006, 2011-2016) franchise released with 20th Century Fox, the first trilogy was incredibly successful. This success might be attributed to their using some of Marvel’s most profitable characters, or to their casting of A-list actors like Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. One driving element through the trilogy, and one that is injected into the next as well, is the presence of Wolverine – a fan favourite mutant in the comics and on film.

These films, and ones that Marvel Studios later released under its own banner followed the storylines of their specific heroes. Each trilogy began with an origin story of sorts, with the final film providing a conclusion to the arcs of their characters. Blade through to Blade: Trinity (2004) follows Blade’s journey as a vampire hunter; X-Men to X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) follows Wolverine’s progression from a lone hunter to a team leader; and Spider-Man (2002) to Spider-Man 3 (2007) follows Peter Parker’s journey of learning to be a hero. Each trilogy has had some continuity with its characters, but each of these trilogies have been closed-off from others. Marvel Studios’ own films, beginning with Iron Man (2008) starts Marvel’s continued universe, with the end credit scene in each film that followed providing clues to where the overarching story might lead. While the first few films used SHIELD (in-universe government organisation) as a connecting thread, from The Avengers (Avengers Assembled in the UK) (2012) onwards, the villain forms a major connecting thread between the phases.

“Dread It, Run From It…”

This far, the comic book film adaptations used villains as “one-and-done” narrative elements present to prove the superhero’s worth. In fact, supervillains have long been defined only in relation to their well-meaning counterparts. Peter Coogan’s definition of the supervillain exemplifies this point, as he states that the supervillain is “a villain who is super, who commits villainous or evil acts and does so in a way that is superior to ordinary criminals, or at a magnified level. The supervillain represents the inversion of the superhero’s virtues and values of a society or culture, and has the ability to enact that inversion”[15]. When viewed historically, however, the supervillain becomes more than just the inverse of the superhero. Scholars have undertaken studies of tracing the villain through history, and have also tried to understand what exactly the nature of the villain is that it draws in such wide varieties of interpretation. For Heit, villainy is a mysterious inherent quality, a deficiency that inhibits the villain’s free choice and thereby predisposes them to evil[16]. Forbes is of the belief that the villain – and thereby the evil they represent – is the symbolic risk of reflecting on our beliefs that threaten established values, but is necessary for adventure and growth[17].

Figure 1: The Gothic era of literature was known for its archaic settings, and mysterious environs. This painting titled Virgil’s Tomb (1782 version) by Joseph Wright of Derby visualises these aspects succinctly - https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12806666

Neither scholar is wrong. but the two are referring to different types of villains, and thereby different types of evil. For Heit, the villains he speaks of have obtained or are working to obtain an excess of money, power or sex. As a result of this greed, they lose perspective of what has been deemed culturally acceptable and consequently fall into villainy[18]. Forbes is talking more in the context of good and evil in narratives. For Forbes, evil represents the danger and instability that threatens our security and our culturally existing values. As a result, narratives that place high importance on evil’s role invite us to reflect on the ideas and values that we, as members of the audience take for granted[19]. Again, we find that these are not necessarily universally applicable, nor do Heit or Forbes intend for them to be. Such varied responses to villainy leads us to understand the existence of the varieties of villainy. Just as there is no one definition for the superhero, there is no one understanding of the supervillain. These ideas are merely that – ideas that have been inspired and influenced, and thus created new types and understandings of villainy.

One particular type of villainy is of interest to this study, and it is one that emerged out of a genre that, during its heyday, was extremely popular and had just as many critics. Gothic literature, which is said to have emerged out of late 18th century literature, was for a long time cast out for being “popular, low culture, useless, indulgent, fanciful, monstrous and unedifying”[20]. Characterised by the old fashioned, the barbaric, the pagan, and with deliberate portrayal of manifestations of the wild and the barbaric, Gothic novels would be easily identifiable with their repeated themes and often stereotypical narratives[21]. Fred Botting finds that it was in “explorations of the mysterious supernatural energies, immense natural forces and deep dark human fears and desires” that the Gothic found its appeal[22]. These novels were mostly set in the past, and sensationalist, with portrayals of extreme situations of terror and revelling in vice and violence[23]. Another recurring element was one that would embody later melodrama, the idea of a star good versus evil structure through hyperbole and violent exclamation[24]. Well-known poets like William Blake and Samuel Coleridge’s works would contain Gothic elements, with Blake’s “dehumanised men and women… machines with a curious and malevolent mode of life”[25] and Coleridge’s use of “Gothic exaggeration as a means of conveying the underlying horror of everyday world”[26]. Above all, Gothic literature was all about terror, shocking its readers with stories of haunted castles, ghosts, vampires, monsters, werewolves, and most importantly, of the “blackly lowering villain”[27].

“He’s a Plague…”

Concurrent to the development and eventual evolution of the Gothic novel was crime fiction, or detective stories. The format for crime novels became popular in France and England around the 1860s, its popularity in England particularly owed to The Newgate Calendar and other ballads that were inspired by and took material from the Calendar. Newgate novels, inspired by the real-life incidents published in the Calendar, gained immense popularity in the 1830s, and subsequent notoriety in the late 1830-40s. These novels chronicled the adventures and escapes of independent, courageous criminals, with settings for the novels ranging from castles to the drinking dens[28]. They managed to romanticise crime, inviting sympathy for the criminals rather than for the victims by making the criminals the haunted object of a chase, focusing on their motivation or psychology, and representing them as victims of circumstance[29]. By the 1860s, what came to be known as the sensation novel would take over England, with cheap newspapers, expanding of the penny press, and more crimes to report, all of which provided a market for the sensation novels[30]. These stories dealt with “nervous, psychological, sexual and social shocks, had complicated plots involving … fraud, forgery, blackmail, kidnaping and sometimes murder” (with heavy elements of melodrama), finding these crimes to be common among upper and middle class settings[31]. Most stories were serialised at this point, published in magazines – it was a format that suited the short stories of the time, and authors like Dickens and Doyle took advantage[32].

Alyce von Rothkirch’s comprehensive typology of villains of these stories aids this study in understanding the types of villains utilised by these stories. Rothkirch categorises the villains as the degenerate and atavistic “born” criminals, the foreign villain, the habitual and professional criminals, and finally the occasional opportunistic criminals[33]. While each type is studied in detail with examples, one particularly significant villain is markedly absent – the master criminal. Stephen Knight briefly discusses this type when exploring Professor Moriarty, finding the master criminal to be a device used in Collins’ The Woman in White and Ellen Wood’s East Lynne (1861) to “bring simplicity to the plotting and sympathy to everybody else”[34].

Professor Moriarty was created as a way for Conan Doyle to put an end to his second series of stories published as The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894), and so multiple elements of pervious stories were attributed to Moriarty, making him the connecting thread tying together multiple storylines. Conan Doyle states as much when describing Moriarty as “the mastermind at the heart of organised crime”[35]. While Moriarty has also been read as an atavistic criminal[36], his status as a master criminal carries more strength in terms of the impact this form of criminality had on the detective novels, the spy thrillers, and the superhero stories. Some obvious examples of the master criminal in subsequent detective novels and spy thrillers would be Ernst Blofeld – the “enigma” who had a “network of fictitious agents” working for him, consisting of “real but small people”, and the head of international crime syndicate SPECTRE[37] –, and Fu Manchu – a doctor determined to rule the world through his secret organisation Si-Fan, representing the threat of oriental invasion characteristic of the early 20th century[38].

The villain of multiple Gothic and detective novels would feature mysterious beings hidden in shadows, whose identities were revealed only later. This scene from Spectre (2015) introducing Ernst Blofeld visualises this trope - https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/detail/amzn1.dv.gti.8e2a27f5-6771-480a-8e76-abe40d60b39a?autoplay=0&ref_=atv_cf_strg_wb

With these examples, we are now able to discuss certain characteristic traits that would define the master criminal who, through popularisation becomes the arch villain. Going back to the source of inspiration, Moriarty was created as “a Svengali of evil” who rarely committed the crimes himself[39]. Doyle has Holmes admit that Moriarty is “a genius, a philosopher, an abstract thinker… has a brain of the first order” with “tendencies of the most diabolical kind”[40]. Similarly, Fu Manchu is described as having “the brains of any three men of genius… a mental giant”[41], with “a face like Satan… the most uncanny eyes that ever reflected a human soul” and most interestingly, in possession of “unearthly powers”[42]. Majority of the Fu Manchu novels’ focus remains of himself, not so much on the heroes of the narratives, who Kohns finds “pale” in comparison[43]. Like Moriarty, Fu Manchu operates through his aforementioned secret organisation, which seems to be an important characterisation for the arch villain.

While it is true that each villain is designed with different intentions and works toward different goals, a common thread that connects these villains is the function they perform in their own respective narratives. According to Buckland, narrative is “a set of linear, temporal sequence of actions and events carried out by characters that form a self-enclosed, unified whole”[44]. Further, he defines characters as “actantial roles” and actions as “functions”, whereby functions are ordered into an internally cohesive structure and an “actant” is an agent that carries out a function[45]. Propp identified seven actants in his study of Russian folktales, one of which is the villain. He then identified thirty-one narrative functions – defined in terms of single actions carried out by each of the actants. So, each actant, according to Propp, would carry out functions within their own sphere of action[46]. The sphere of action of the villain constitutes “villainy; a fight or other forms of struggle with the hero; pursuit”[47]. While this may be true, the villain is not limited to these three actions. Also, what then would constitute villainy? And how does this simplified description of the villain lead into a deeper understanding of the function this actant carries out. As Buckland also finds, for Propp the action-functions performed by the actants was primary, the actants themselves secondary when considering the study of a narrative[48]. Since it is this study’s aim to look into a specific actant, Propp’s analysis doesn’t prove sufficient to understand the villain and his function in a narrative text.

An interesting aspect of Propp’s study to note at this point, is that most of the thirty-one functions he identifies are functions carried out in relation to the hero of the narrative text. Propp’s actants themselves are defined, Buckland notes, not by their own individual intrinsic qualities, but rather in terms of their structural relation to other actants. For example, “the hero is defined in opposition to the villain and is conferred the task of rescuing the princess”[49]. As noted earlier, one of the functions in the villain’s sphere of actions is that of “a fight or other forms of struggle with the hero”[50]. Since this study chooses to focus only on the villain of the narrative text, it will be primarily considering the functions performed by the villain in a narrative text. Specifically, this study will focus on the functions performed by this actant that ensure its own narrative focus, its ability to create a sense of mystery in a narrative text, and the types that emerge to ensure that this actant could apply to multiple scenarios/story types/genres.

Propp’s basic understanding of the function of the villain may have been suitable for the texts engaged with at the time, but for the scope of this study, more discussion of this actant is necessary. Especially since the study is concerning itself with the supervillain – a term in itself that demands discussion – and having thus far engaged with literary texts primarily belonging to the Gothic and Victorian eras of literature. Based on the discussion thus far, the study aims to locate the arch villain of the Gothic and Victorian literary texts in the supervillain of superheroic narrative films. Every superhero has an arch villain, a villain that mirrors them, matches or supersedes their intellect, and/or works behind the superhero’s realm of knowing on their villainous plans. While multiple such arch villains have appeared in both comic books and film adaptations of said comic books, this study will be focusing on Thanos’ filmic adaptations through the MCU.

“I am Inevitable.”

Thanos’ introduction in the MCU was made through glimpses, as a sort of mystery to be solved. He is initially “the man behind the curtain”, the one who controls and orchestrates events that will lead him to his end goal. Through the release of films as a part of the MCU, clues and hints are dropped that lead the viewer to try and solve the mystery of what Thanos is after, since he is revealed six films into the MCU, which together constitute Phase 1. Once he is revealed to be the villain and audiences have an idea of where the story could be leading, stories revolving the items that Thanos is collecting are introduced into the films. These films together constitute Phases 2 and 3. By the end of Phase 3, Thanos is ready to reveal himself to the heroes and accomplish his task, also only revealed by the end of Phase 3.

Thanos’ first appearance in film is in The Avengers, although his name is never spoken and only towards the end do audiences get a glimpse at his face. Through the film, Thanos was present as a mere entity, a being behind a floating throne, as the mystery being that The Other talks to in the first scene, who says in dialogue that while the world will be Loki’s, “the universe, yours”. The Other, when questioning the motives behind Loki’s actions, asks how dare Loki question “him?! He who put the Sceptre in your hand! Who gave you ancient knowledge and new purpose when you were cast out?” Loki was not the mastermind behind this particular attack, someone else behind the scenes is manufacturing these events. Loki legitimises this when questioned by Thor, saying that he was shown the real power of the Tesseract by someone, though he never says who. As revealed in the mid-credit scene, Thanos is the one behind the attack, a fact shared only with audiences. The heroes find out about his identity only in Avengers: Infinity War.

Thanos makes quite a significant second appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), having made a deal with the film’s main antagonist Ronan the Accuser. To uphold his end of the deal, Ronan is supposed to give Thanos the Orb, and in return Thanos promises to destroy the alien planet Xandar for him. Gamora and Nebula are introduced as daughters of the Mad Titan Thanos, currently on loan to Ronan by their father. Drax the Destroyer, a character in the comics whose sole purpose was to destroy Thanos, has been altered slightly for the MCU – with his wife Ovette and daughter Camaria being murdered by Ronan rather than Thanos. The Other also returns for this film, who demands Ronan’s presence in front of Thanos after learning that Gamora has betrayed their cause of stealing the Orb. Ronan kills The Other and speaks directly to Thanos, asking to be taken seriously. In a display of power, Thanos reminds Ronan that he shall hold up his end of the deal only upon receiving the Orb, and if not, he “will bathe the starways in [Ronan’s] blood”. Ronan eventually having obtained the Orb and knowing it contains an Infinity Stone, betrays Thanos. One of these workers exclaims “Master! You cannot! Thanos is the most powerful being in the universe!” Ronan ignores this, threatening to destroy Thanos after destroying Xandar. Ronan, of course, fails and is destroyed by the heroes. However, nothing is said of Thanos until the next film on Marvel’s roster.

Strucker’s facility and the Maximoff Twins’ story (hinted at in an end-credit scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)) is continued in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2016). The Avengers reach Strucker’s facility to get back Loki’s Sceptre. When Stark asks his AI assistant, Jarvis to scan the Sceptre, he reveals that it houses “something powerful… like a computer” inside it – a reference to the Infinity Stone it houses. In a later scene Wanda, the Scarlet Witch hits Thor with the fear trap, Thor sees a quick image of all six Infinity Stones. Later Thor goes to the Water of Sight to revisit the dream Wanda left in his head, and sees the six Infinity Stones in their full glory, set in a golden gauntlet-looking cloud. Ultron, having obtained information from everywhere, breaks the Sceptre and places the stone inside, naming it the Mind Gem, on Vision’s head while he is still being created. When talking to the Avengers about the Mind Gem and its power, Thor says “I’ve had a vision. A whirlpool that sucks in all hope of life, and at its centre is that… the Mind Stone. It’s one of the six Infinity Stones. The greatest power in the universe…” Though audiences have heard the term before, this is the first time the Avengers encounter its power. At the end, Thor says “Someone has been playing an intricate game and has made pawns of us”, reminding audiences that the bigger picture remains unfinished and that there is still more to come. This film’s mid-credit scene opens with the Infinity Gauntlet revealed and Thanos, walking in and wearing the Gauntlet, saying “Fine, I’ll do it myself” and grinning again at the camera. This makes Thanos’ third appearance, and the end of Phase 2 in the MCU.

Thanos’ appearances through the MCU showcase a tradition of characters who have had a key role in creating a narrative that other characters mainly react to. Like the horror of the Victorian Gothic novels, Thanos creates an atmosphere of doubt and uncertainty. His motivations through the films are not clearly stated, even the fact that he seeks the Infinity Stones is not revealed until the end of Phase 2. His minimal presence mirrors the supervillains of the Detective era of novels, like Fu Manchu or Moriarty, in that most happenings and events lead to him. He is the main cause of the events of The Avengers, and thereby is responsible of what happens in its aftermath. While the heroes remain clueless of his presence, some are able to sense a game in place, like Thor mentions in Age of Ultron, like Tony’s obsessive need to create more Iron Man suits to protect himself and those that he cares for. But they still remain in the dark, unknowing of what lurks behind the veil. Thanos, from behind the veil controls and eventually starts making moves by himself to achieve his goal, a goal that is not spelled out until the next Avengers film. Still, his very presence as an unknown factor creates a sense of dread, as the environment usually described in novels of the gothic era aimed to do. They created a sense of dread in the environs, in the external or internal space that the readers engage with[51]. Thanos does that as well, and any mention of an object or artifact that alludes to his presence creates a sense of excitement in the viewers, because they are now in on a secret that the superheroes themselves are not.

Comic books, and specifically superhero stories have for long taken inspiration from multiple sources to add to their own content, a study undertaken in more detail by Jenkins[52]. This generic flexibility has merged quite well when the stories were adapted for the big screens. Such storytelling methods are not limited to Marvel Studios’ films, DC’s universe has the Batman time and again played as the greatest detective, an attribute ascribed to his comic counterpart and one that is reminiscent of the American hard-boiled detective fiction. Elements of horror are a repetitive feature of these films, what with the studios’ hiring of directors who have specialised in those fields (Sam Raimi, James Gunn, and James Wan, for example). The study of genre in superhero films can therefore be extended beyond just their inherent generic tropes, looking at specific narrative actants, their functions in the narrative, and what impact that has on the overarching superhero narrative. We learn that perhaps it is serial narratives that prove a fruitful ground for overarching narratives, as both Gothic novels and detective novels thrived in a time when stories were published serially.

Beyond narrative as well, the future of superhero stories remains in flux for the most part, and the storywriters abilities to work with audience expectations of their favourite characters makes an interesting topic for discussion. The widespread reach of superheroes results in various cultural reinterpretations of well-known stories – a point of view where genre could again play an important role. By looking at the supervillain through a Gothic lens, this paper intends to open up the discussion for what it means to be a superhero/villain, what impact those roles have on their narrative, and how genre acts/reacts to such perspectives.

[1] Henry Jenkins, “Just Men in Tights: Rewriting Silver Age Comics in an Era of Multiplicity” in The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero, ed. Angela Ndalianis (Oxon: Routledge, 2009), 16-43.

[2]Wheeler Winston Dixon and Richard Graham. A Brief History of Comic Book Movies, (Springer International Publishing AG, 2017), 7-8.

2 Drew Morton. Panel to the Screen: Style, American Film, and Comic Books During the Blockbuster Era, (University Press of Mississippi, 2016), 3.

[3]3 Jared Gardner, Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First Century Storytelling, (Stanford: Stanford University Press 2012), 4.

[4]

[5] Dixon and Graham, A Brief History of Comic Book Movies, 6.

[6] Ian Gordon, Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon, (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2017), 74,76.

[7]  For further details, see Gordon, 2017.

[8]  Steve Neale, “Hollywood Strikes Back: Special Effects in Recent American Cinema”, Screen, vol 21, no 3, pp 101-105, 1980.

[9] Robin Wood, Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986); Andrew Britton, “Blissing Out: The Politics of Reaganite Entertainment”, Movie, Vol 31, No 2 (1986): 1-42.

[10]  James Monaco, American Film Now: The People, The Power, The Money, The Movies, (New York: Plume, 1979) chapters 1-3; Peter Kramer, “Post-Classical Hollywood”, The Oxford Guide to Film Studies, ed. Jonah Hill, and Pamela Church Gibson, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 301.

[11] Kramer, “Post-Classical Hollywood”, 301.

[12] Morton, Panel to Screen, 47.

[13]James Harwood, “Superman”, Variety, 13 December 1978, https://variety.com/1978/film/reviews/superman-1200424325/.

[14] Roger Ebert, and Gene Siskel, “Batman Review”, At The Movies, https://siskelebert.org/?p=5017, Uploaded 9 February 2019.

[15] Robin S. Rosenberg, and Peter M. Coogan. What Is a Superhero? (Oxford University Press, 2013) https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=cat07845a&AN=uea.819136180&authtype=sso&custid=s8993828&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[16] Jamey Heit, Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Vader, Voldemort and Others in Popular Media, (McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers, 2011), 8, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=679304.

[17] Daniel A. Forbes, “The Aesthetic of Evil”, Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Vader, Voldemort and Others in Popular Media, ed. Jamey Heit (McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers, 2011), 19, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=679304.

[18] Heit, Vader, Voldemort, and Other Villains, 8.

[19] Forbes, “The Aesthetic of Evil”, 19, 25-26.

[20] Fred Botting, ed. The Gothic. (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, Limited, 2001), 2, ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=4949420.

[21] David Punter. The Literature of Terror: Volume 1: The Gothic Tradition, (Taylor & Francis Group, 1996), 2, 5, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=1694449.

[22] Botting, The Gothic, 2.

[23] Punter, The Literature of Terror, 9.

[24] Punter, The Literature of Terror, 9.

[25] Punter, The Literature of Terror, 91.

[26] Punter, The Literature of Terror, 91.

[27] Punter, The Literature of Terror, 1, 13.

[28] Lynn Pykett. “The Newgate Novel and Sensation Fiction, 1830-1868.” The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, ed. Martin Priestman, 19–40. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), doi:10.1017/CCOL0521803993.003.

[29] Pykett, “The Newgate Novel and Sensation Fiction, 1830-1868”, 20.

[30] Pykett, “The Newgate Novel and Sensation Fiction, 1830-1868”, 32.

[31] Pykett, “The Newgate Novel and Sensation Fiction, 1830-1868”, 33-34.

[32] Martin A. Kayman, “The Short Story from Poe to Chesterton.” The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, ed. Martin Priestman, 41–58. (Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), doi:10.1017/CCOL0521803993.004.

[33] Alice von Rothkirch, ‘“His Face Was Livid, Dreadful, with a Foam at the Corners of His Mouth”: A Typology of Villains in Classic Detective Stories’, The Modern Language Review” 108, no 4 (2013): 1042-63, https://doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.108.4.1042.

[34] Stephen Knight. Crime Fiction Since 1800: Detection, Death, Diversity. 2nd ed., (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

[35] Arthur Conan Doyle. Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. (London: ElecBook, 2000). ProQuest Ebook Central. https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=3008589

[36] Oliver Kohns. “The Mask of Evil: Moriarty, Fu-Manchu, Mabuse.” Cultural Express. 6 (2021), http://cultx-revue.com/article/the-mask-of-evil-moriarty-fu-manchu-mabuse.

[37] Nigel West. Historical Dictionary of Ian Fleming’s World of Intelligence: Fact and Fiction. (Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2009). https://search-ebscohost-com.uea.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xww&AN=332750&site=ehost-live.

[38] Ruth Mayer. Serial Fu Manchu: The Chinese Supervillain and the Spread of Yellow Peril Ideology. (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014). JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14bs955.

[39] Kohns, “The Mask of Evil”, 2.

[40] Arthur Conan Doyle. “The Final Problem” Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. (London: ElecBook, 2000), 283. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=3008589.

[41] Sax Rohmer, The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu: Being a Somewhat Detailed Account of the Amazing Adventures of Nayland Smith In His Trailing of the Sinister Chinaman, 1883-1959, (New York: A.L. Burt Company, 1917), 34, Hathi Trust, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924011708025&seq=35&q1=the+brains+of+any+three+men+of+genius.

[42] Sax Rohmer, The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu, p. 35-36.

[43] Kohns, “The Mask of Evil”, p. 3.

[44] Warren Buckland. Narrative and Narration: Analyzing Cinematic Storytelling. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2021). JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.7312/buck18143.

[45] Buckland, Narrative and Narration, p. 12.

[46] Vladimir Propp. Morphology of the Folktale: Second Edition, ed. Louis A. Wagner, (University of Texas Press, 1968). 79-83. 

[47] Propp, Morphology of the Folktale, p. 79.

[48] Buckland, Narrative and Narration, p. 14.

[49] Buckland, Narrative and Narration, p. 13.

[50] Propp, Morphology of the Folktale, p. 79.

[51] Punter, The Literature of Terror, 40.

[52] Jenkins, “‘Just Men in Tights’”.

Shravya Aradhyam

Contributing Writer

Shravya Aradhyam is a PhD Candidate at University of East Anglia, UK. Her current research interests are in Superhero films, Supervillains, Narrative theory, and Popular Culture.

Bibliography

Britton, Andrew, “Blissing Out: The Politics of Reaganite Entertainment”, Movie, 31, no. 2 (1986): 1-42.

Botting, Fred, ed. The Gothic. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, Limited, 2001. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Buckland, Warren. Narrative and Narration: Analyzing Cinematic Storytelling. Columbia University Press, 2021. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.7312/buck18143.

Dixon, Wheeler Winston, and Richard Graham. A Brief History of Comic Book Movies, Springer International Publishing AG, 2017.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. London: ElecBook, 2000. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Ebert, Roger, and Gene Siskel, “Batman Review”, At The Movies, https://siskelebert.org/?p=5017, Uploaded 9 February 2019.

Forbes, Daniel A., “The Aesthetic of Evil”, Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Vader, Voldemort and Others in Popular Media, ed. Jamey Heit, McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers, 2011, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=679304.

Gardner, Jared, Projections: Comics and the History of Twenty-First Century Storytelling, Stanford: Stanford University Press 2012.

Gordon, Ian, Superman: The Persistence of an American Icon, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2017.

Harwood, James, “Superman”, Variety, 13 December 1978, https://variety.com/1978/film/reviews/superman-1200424325/.

Heit, Jamey, Vader, Voldemort and Other Villains: Essays on Vader, Voldemort and Others in Popular Media, McFarland & Company, Incorporated Publishers, 2011, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=679304.

Jenkins, Henry, “‘Just Men in Tights’: Rewriting Silver Age Comics in an Era of Multiplicity”, The Contemporary Comic Book Superhero, edited by Angels Ndalianis, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=425560.

Kayman, Martin A. “The Short Story from Poe to Chesterton.” The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, ed. Martin Priestman, 41–58. Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. doi:10.1017/CCOL0521803993.004.

Knight, Stephen. Crime Fiction Since 1800: Detection, Death, Diversity. 2nd ed., Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Kohns, Oliver. “The Mask of Evil: Moriarty, Fu-Manchu, Mabuse.” Cultural Express. 6, (2021), http://cultx-revue.com/article/the-mask-of-evil-moriarty-fu-manchu-mabuse.

Kramer, Peter, “Post-Classical Hollywood”, The Oxford Guide to Film Studies, ed. Jonah Hill, and Pamela Church Gibson, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Mayer, Ruth. Serial Fu Manchu: The Chinese Supervillain and the Spread of Yellow Peril Ideology. Temple University Press, 2014. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt14bs955.

Monaco, James, American Film Now: The People, The Power, The Money, The Movies, New York: Plume, 1979.

Morton, Drew. Panel to the Screen: Style, American Film, and Comic Books During the Blockbuster Era, University Press of Mississippi, 2016.

Neale, Steve, “Hollywood Strikes Back: Special Effects in Recent American Cinema”, Screen 21, no. 3 (1980) 101-105, https://doi.org/10.1093/screen/21.3.101.

Punter, David. The Literature of Terror: Volume 1: The Gothic Tradition, Taylor & Francis Group, 1996, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/uea/detail.action?docID=1694449.

Pykett, Lynn. “The Newgate Novel and Sensation Fiction, 1830-1868.” The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction, ed. Martin Priestman, 19–40. Cambridge Companions to Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. doi:10.1017/CCOL0521803993.003.

Rohmer, Sax, The Insidious Dr. Fu-Manchu: Being a Somewhat Detailed Account of the Amazing Adventures of Nayland Smith In His Trailing of the Sinister Chinaman, 1883-1959, New York: A.L. Burt Company, 1917.

Rosenberg, Robin S., and Peter M. Coogan. What Is a Superhero?. Oxford University Press, 2013. https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=sso&db=cat07845a&AN=uea.819136180&authtype=sso&custid=s8993828&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Rothkirch, Alice von, ‘“His Face Was Livid, Dreadful, with a Foam at the Corners of His Mouth”: A Typology of Villains in Classic Detective Stories’, The Modern Language Review” 108, no 4 (2013), 1042-63, doi: 10.5699/modelangrevi.108.4.1042.

WestNigel. Historical Dictionary of Ian Fleming’s World of Intelligence: Fact and Fiction. Lanham, Md: Scarecrow Press, 2009. https://search-ebscohost-com.uea.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e000xww&AN=332750&site=ehost-live.

Wood, Robin, Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan, New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.

Filmography

Gunn, James, dir. Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2014.

Favreau, Jon, dir. Iron Man, Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, 2008.

Norrington, Stephen, dir. Blade, Marvel Enterprises, New Line Cinema, 1998.

Raimi, Sam, dir. Spider-Man, Marvel Enterprise, Sony Pictures Releasing, 2002.

Russo, Anthony, and Joe Russo, dirs. Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2014.

Singer, Bryan, dir. X-Men, Marvel Entertainment Group, 20th Century Fox, 2000.

WhedonJoss, dir. The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble). Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2012.

WhedonJoss, dir. Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2015.

Keep Reading