This senior thesis paper discusses the representation of masculinity and heroism in post-9/11 culture and how filmic adaptations of graphic novels have helped to shape these representations. Following the events of September 11th, the cultural definitions of the masculine hero shifted, allowing the average, working class man to become the embodiment of American heroism. This new understanding of the American hero was marked by sexual difference and a redefinition of the masculine “hard-body” that allowed for the possession of a heroic masculine identity to appear more attainable. This thesis primarily examines the filmic adaptations of works by Frank Miller and Alan Moore in order to track these changes in masculinity and to observe how these films have helped to define new perceptions of masculinity and heroism. In the chapter that discusses the adaptations of Frank Miller’s work, I focus on the films Sin City (Rodriguez & Miller, 2005) and 300 (Snyder, 2006) to argue that Miller’s conservative viewpoints and his problematic representations of gender help to inform contemporary understandings of masculinity and heroism and that the film adaptations of his work maintain these ideologies. In the chapter on Alan Moore, I discuss the ways in which the films Watchmen (Snyder, 2008) and V for Vendetta (McTeigue, 2005) have been changed to fit a post-9/11 narrative. While some of aspects of these films aspire to move outside the realm of post-9/11 gender representations, I argue that the cultural understandings of masculinity and heroism force these films to remain part of America’s conservative cultural narrative that is based on traditional values.
Abate, Richard Charles, "“The Superman Exists, and He is American”: Graphic Novel Film Adaptations and Masculine Heroism in Post-9/11 Culture" (2010). Film Studies Honors Papers. 2.
The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author.