Of superheroes and social progression - An analysis of DC vs Marvel

Of superheroes and social progression - An analysis of DC vs Marvel
At least Wonder Women continues to portray the strength of the Amazonians in her - Justice League

THE very utterance of this opinion segment’s subtitle is enough to bring out the hatchets of rivalry and the post-modern age’s debate on which is the better comic, or should I say, “graphic novel” (resounding groans resonated in the background)- DC or Marvel?

As tacky as it may sound, movies and TV shows are important influencing factors on how the society moves and in which direction.

We have to face the fact that music and movies are today’s version of poetry and art, akin to renaissance age’s actual poetry, painting, sculpture and plays.

No better proof of this is evident than the fact that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Literary Prize for best poet of the contemporary age a mere year ago in 2016.

Let’s begin with congratulating both of them for the improved representation of all minority groups- women and African(-Americans)- gleaning over other groups of minority in the interest of simplifying issues of arguments without splitting hairs.

Agreed, the Marvel comic series has long included African Americans in its publications, the first major black superhero being Luke Cage, personified in its namesake series on Netflix.

However, African American representation in the portrayal as a major superhero on TV (or cinema) had long, painful background.
In an interview by Neil deGrasse Tyson of Whoopi Goldberg in the August 2016 issue of National Geographic, she related on how difficult the road was for her to be portrayed as the first black female hero(ish) character on the Star Trek franchise.

We have seen a lot of improvements in this aspect, but the writer awaits with bated breath for the moment when more Asians, Hispanics and Natives are given the same platform.

Furthermore, a leading role for an openly gay superhero, comparable to Mr Sulu in the latest Star Trek movie franchise.

For diehard DC comic fans, or what I deem as irrational fanatics (here’s the point where the writer’s affiliations are clear), do stop here to avoid frothing in the mouth and heart burns.

Here comes the scathing criticism of DC comics and how it portrayal on the silver screen sets us back a few decades.

Several news social media platforms have openly criticized the objectification of women in the form more scantily clad Amazonians in the Justice as compared to the early released Wonder Woman.

The popular analysis on how the Wonder Woman was directed by a female director, hence representing more accurately how a woman would dress to battle, logically opting for more protection via armour totally trumps over the fact that Justice League was directed by a male who would alternatively more accurately represent what his teenage wet dream self would imagine a warrior woman would dress in.

The latter resulting in clothing that first and foremost is very likely to be displaced during rapid repetitive movements, what more in battles and completely and utterly non-protective.

The end result is a female warrior who is so confident of her freedom to dress that she leaves her torso at the complete mercy of not only arrows, swords and spears, but even a fork or satay sticks (you know, in the event the foe was completely disarmed and has to go Jackie Chan style).

Unfortunately, objectification of one’s body and hypersexualisation of its characters doesn’t stop at its women characters. Lo and behold how the fully dressed corpse of Clark Kent donning full three-piece suit, tie and even leather shoes miraculously became topless after resurrection.

The writer can accept if, for the sake of argumentation, during the electrification of Kent a.k.a. Super Frankenstein, his clothes were torn asunder (think Hulk).

But this is a clean undressing of Mr Superman, pants completely intact. The only possible explanation then, is hypersexualizing Mr Steve Cahill to the female audience.

A sneaky little move to commercialize Cahill’s six pecs and more a few dustings of chest hairs. To quote Trump- SAD. A similar move is done to Momoa’s tattoo covered torso.

Gone is the tactful placement of such opportunistic view of the men’s happy trails, enter garish manipulation of men for the outright intent of garnering more return of investment.

Whatever happened to selling a man’s prowess by portrayal of his suave, wit, humour and intellect? This movie made yours truly truly miss the sass that is Iron Man.

Last but definitely not least, the latest production of DC comic completely lacks the in-depth analysis of the internal conflicts surrounding the principles and personal beliefs of its two main polar opposites, Batman and Superman.

Its over-simplication of the conflicts and even simpler resolution that had minutes before, put each and every member of the newly formed team of world saviours at the precipice of death, leaves and awful sawdust feeling in the audience. Really? Present Lois Lane and all is okay? This is all you can offer? Sigh.

Having said that, this movie is worth watching. They have improved the element of humour that had previously been very jarringly amiss in DC comics.

At the very least this movie would help future producers, writers and directors to create a full list of things to not do in a superhero movie. After all, what message are we trying to send to our youths and children?

DC should start positively impacting the society. Or, society should just stick to Marvel (and Star Trek).

*Mastura Rosly is a medical doctor and a psychiatric specialist-trainee who observes social behaviour

** The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Astro AWANI.