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Captain America and the Justice League Dominate Post-9/11 Popular Culture

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks ended the lives of close to three-thousand civilians, and so began the war that spans these past ten years and defines the decade.

Three years later, Hurricane Katrina killed another two-thousand Americans, and caused more damage, in monetary terms, than any other hurricane in U.S. history.

The introduction of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has forever changed the way people communicate.

Our environment is undergoing a change in climate that we do not fully understand.

We are embroiled in the greatest economic recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The twenty-first century has been an era of great uncertainty and unrest for America.

In the past, during such times as those we face today, Americans have sought out men who can transform themselves from ordinary to extraordinary and save the day at a mere moment’s notice.

Before the 1940s, these men were political candidates, FBI agents, soldiers, and local policemen,along with firefighters.

Of course, we still regard men and women in these positions as American heroes, but the surge of fear and patriotism during WWII inspired the creation of “a new breed of super soldiers,” or really a new breed of super heroes.

Superman stepped into action in 1938, just before WWII began.

Three years later, Captain America starred in his first comic book, redefining what it meant to be patriotic and heroic.

Ten years later, Superman was the first superhero to star in an entire movie. From 1951 through the end of the twentieth century, thirty-two superhero live-action movies followed.

In the first twelve years of the twenty-first century, nearly fifty superhero movies were released, with five more scheduled to come out in the next two years. Add animated films to that list, and an additional thirty-two superhero stories comes to a
grand total of eighty films. Of those fifty live-action films, only three superheroes hit the silver screen before the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Most recently, Captain America arrived on the screen once again to captivate summer theatergoers. Is the culture, whether knowingly or not, looking for someone to rescue America? Noticing that these are the trends of the past, it seems important to ask: did we need someone to reassure us that safety and American ideals persist despite troubling and chaotic world wars in the past?