This project is on the historical progression of Superman the DC Comics character and how messianic themes have been built into his character. Superman is an 85 year old comic book superhero and has changed drastically since his original inception. If one looks into this progression, one can see from the very outset throughout the 20th into the 21st century, Superman has been portrayed as a messiah, and concepts of messianism and divinity are also what has drawn audiences across the world to the Man of Tomorrow. Using thinkers such as Thomas Carlyle, Friedrich Nietzsche and Ernst Bloch, I will demonstrate these ideas.
The concept of the hero is one that has been debated and discussed sociologically, historically, and even psychologically but not so much philosophically. There is not one singular definition of a hero yet the concept can impart extraordinary knowledge of the wider world and how it has changed, as well as highlight the notable development of the concept of the self throughout the years. The interdependent relationship between the hero and the society can tell us a lot about human nature. Through looking at two antithetical heroes – an Ancient Tragic Hero and a Contemporary Superhero – and the differences between them I have investigated the idea of selfhood and how that has completely changed, alongside how society reflects this relationship. I have used Aristotle’s Poetics and MacIntyre’s After Virtue to analyse in what ways the concept of the hero can teach us these things. It seems as if the self has become something distinct, and that in contemporary society we become who we are through our actions and how we behave, in contrast to the ancients who act and behave in the way they do because of who they are. There are these crucial elements of fate and choice which highlight the complete change in the hero. Through this contemporary understanding, it seems as though it does not make sense to think of morality solely in terms of action and theory but rather in virtue and practice too. Humanity has developed to a point where we should be looking at morality in terms of character, actions, and society in a unified manner rather than just in the actions themselves.
Was Harry Potter predetermined to be the chosen one? Or is it down to free will.. or more fate?
My project was an examination of Comic Books and Graphic Novels and whether or not they can be used to give us Ethical and Moral Direction in our lives. I focused on the Comic Books Kick Ass by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. and also on V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. I looked at the Ethical Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, looking at his Utilitarian theory from his Book titled Utilitarianism, Immanuel Kant and his theory from Groundwork for the metaphysics of Morals and also Thomas Hobbes’s theory seen in the Leviathan. I also looked at the Aesthetic Theory of Arthur Schopenhauer. I applied the Philosophy to the actions portrayed in the comic books to see if there was any ethical guidance to be taken from the comic books. Also looking at the Comics as works of art to see if there is any element of Aesthetic pleasure to be gained from them.
The object concerning my project is the comic book character The Comedian. In my project I want to investigate how The Comedian can be considered to be evil by conventional morality and yet referred to as a hero. The main objective of my project will be to argue that although the Comedian acts beyond conventional morality, his label as a Hero is very much deserved. He is the epitome of what a Hero should be and so beyond normal considerations.
In my project two other characters from the comic book will also be discussed, Rorschach and Ozymandias, both of which illustrate two alternative moral systems. Rorschach takes on Kant’s Deontological value system that argues for universal morality known as the categorical imperative. It is obvious in the end that due to Rorschach’s moral inclinations he is not able to function as person let alone a hero. Ozymandias on the other hand illustrates Mill’s concept of Utilitarianism. Ozymandias justifies his actions in killing millions of people by arguing that it is for the greater good. Is the sacrifice too great? If it is ever discovered what he did would he still be considered a hero? Both these moral systems are considered to be socially accepted conventions. However I will argue that although they may be acceptable for general society, it is inadequate for a Hero to use either of these moral systems.
Unlike the other “Heroes” Rorschach and Ozymandias, the Comedian’s value system is over and above conventional social morality, he is the creator of his own values. The Comedian accepts that life is absurd and that society is not as civilised as we think it is and so he acts accordingly as the hero we need rather than the kind of hero we want. The Comedian utilises Hegel’s concept of the right of heroes to be the lawgivers in an uncivilised time. They are granted the right to do whatever is necessary to establish a civilised society.
The Philosophers and concepts
Machiavelli – The Prince
Nietzsche – The Overman
Hegel – World Historical individuals
Kant – categorical imperative
Mill – Utilitarianism
– The Eternal Return
– The Rights of Heroes
Aim: To discover why certain types of heroes are popular in films, animation and graphic novels, and why we are attracted to such qualities. Method: Analysing some of the more interesting and obscure characters to ascertain why people are attracted to more nihilistic, free-thinking traits. To do this I will look at ideas such as nihilism, escapism and boredom, and correlate them with research into transcendence, innocence, naivety, and rebelliousness. Characters explored will include Roman Dirge’s Lenore, Jhonen Vasquez’s Johnny The Homicidal Maniac (pictured above), the residents of Sobriety Straight in Dame Darcy’s Meat Cake, and the Norse God Loki who features in The Mask. Sources: The Modern Stranger – Lesley D. Harman, Comic Book Nation – Wright, Dame Darcy’s Meat Cake Compilation – Dame Darcy, JTHM – Jhonen Vasquez, Lenore: Noogies – Roman Dirge.
An exploration of romanticism in the world of the caped crusader with reference to the work and ideas of Goethe and Schopenhauer. Characteristics of Goethe’s Romanticism present in Batman: • Heroic despair – isolation of Batman, melancholy that leads to the creation of Batman prominent feature in Romanticism. • Attraction to the darkside – evil forces in Gotham City hold a mystifying hold over Batman. • Nightmare landscape – Gothic architecture, Gotham is a physical manifestation of Bruce’s fears. • Wasteland – Wayne manor is the wasteland representing some aspect of lack in Batman’s world. • Ambivalence – present in the ordinary citizen in Gotham City, resolved themselves to a life where crime and fear are a major factor. • Villainy – endless supply of villains and arch-enemies in Gotham City. • Murder – Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered when he is a child. • Death – death of Bruce’s parents marks the death of his innocence. • Impossible love – Bruce’s lack of relationship is a source of sorrow and insanity. Relevance of Schopenhauer in Batman: • Batman is unable to achieve happiness because it is something that does not exist. • Suffering is an essential part of life. • Batman displays a great amount of sympathy for others and is particularly sensitive to their pain, characteristics of Schopenhauer’s good man. • However, he has not quite freed himself from his will and as such will never achieve any value in his life according to Schopenhauer. Only in non-existence can he seek refuge.