Detailed Table of Contents
Abstract: My article examines the various presentations of masculinity in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy and their dependency on gadgets and theatricality. The success of a man’s performance of his masculinity is measured in how convincing he is as either hero or villain and in his exertion of power. I argue thereby that the men appearing in the three installments are stereotypes that cater to a heteronormative world view and constantly need to reassure their sexuality and gender affiliation to persist within the society of Gotham. By contrasting the films’ protagonist Bruce Wayne and his superhero alter ego Batman with the villains, I conclude that the masculinities are fragile because they strongly depend on money, physical strength and control over other, physically and financially weaker people, otherwise they are not of value for the predominant heterocentric, capitalist community. I thus want to stress that the city (and through it the films themselves) requires an immaculate masculinity that is as good as unattainable and promotes obsolete role models. Furthermore, I will point out the subordinate role of femininity in the films which again emphasize the films’ focus on the desire for a hypermasculine saviour.
Author’s Bio: Annette Schimmelpfennig is a PhD student and research assistant at the University of Cologne, Germany. Her current research focuses on the deconstruction of sense and meaning in postmodern fiction, especially the works of Bret Easton Ellis. Schimmelpfennig has previously published various articles on presentations of gender in popular TV shows such as Hannibal and The Walking Dead.
Abstract: Since the turn of the millennium there has been a mass proliferation of superhero movies. From the appearance of the fist Spider-Man film in 2002 since the latest installment in the Captain America series (2016), superhero movies have a tremendous popular and economic success. These popular texts have also a massive cultural impact by articulating their representations and ideologies in a global audience consisting of different national, racial, class and gender identities. The gender issues in superhero movies are often accompanied by the common observation that the great majority of superheroes are men and the rare presence of women is marked by their placement in a supporting role, thus reproducing a patriarchal ideology. Although this phenomenon can indeed be characterized as an excessive demonstration of masculine power and superheroes can be seen as mythical figures of a technological patriarchy, I would also suggest a different approach, an antithetical reading. This approach examines the overstated “technological sublime in human form” (Wasielewski 66) as a sort of divergent embodiment of subjectivity, one that contains the notion of the cyborg as described by Donna Harraway, one containing its own blurring of the ontological boundaries (161), therefore projecting its own existence as a social construction. Deploying this approach, I would examine the gender representations in the Iron Man trilogy (2008, 2010, 2013) not as demonstration of patriarchal power, but as masculinity in crisis, a masculinity undermined by its excessive technological look and its status as a constructed fabrication. A close analysis of the three texts and a special focus on gender representations will demonstrate how the technological subjectivity of Iron Man and the ironic performance by Robert Downey Jr. actually undermines the surface super-masculinity of the character. Finally, some general conclusion from the above analysis will be drawn.
Author’s Bio: Evdokia Stefanopoulou was born in Thessaloniki, Greece in 1983. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Film Studies Department, in Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the same department and a master’s degree in Cultural Studies: Semiotics and Communication, from University of Western Macedonia. The topic of her research is the American science fiction film in the 21st century. Her research interests include film theory, science fiction, gender and technoculture.
Abstract: The image of many American male superheroes is always represented as being ‘phallic’ in their costumes. Even though it is a long-term reality that the representation of superheroes often connotes an ideally mythic but essentially un-realizable embodiment of men, such a costuming more often than not involves, as Harry Brod sees it, a process of men’s conscious self-masquerade. How well, or how falsely, do male characters accommodate themselves to their masculine costuming as superheroes? How does this costumed heroism affect men’s lives, both in public and in private? This article is inspired by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s graphic novel, Watchmen, with regard to the metaphorical representations of the bodily images of men and their associations with justice and masculinity. If the actualization of superheroes in the reality of Watchmen debunks heroism itself, then the graphic representations of those male superheroes’ masculine but masked bodies also belie an apotheosizing but simultaneously dehumanizing dimension through such a male masquerade. By juxtaposing the different representations and embodiments of male superheroes in Watchmen, the article focuses on how men’s negotiations between a performative identity and an unmasked selfhood are relentlessly exposed and problematized. Accordingly, the artificiality of men’s masculine images is not only highlighted in the graphic representations of Watchmen but also subversive to the conventional notions of super-heroic male embodiments.
Author’s Bio: Yen-Lian Liu is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. He also works as an adjunct lecturer in the Department of English at National University of Tainan. His research interests include men’s/masculinity studies, gender studies, and the American literature. He currently works on white masculinity and paternalism in American Southern novels, including the works by William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Truman Capote, and Cormac McCarthy.
Nicole M. Rizzuto is a PhD student in History and Culture at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, USA. She is also the Curator of Exhibitions and Research at the Morris County Historical Society and an adjunct professor at New Jersey City University and Hudson County Community College. Her concentration is in the History of Gender and Sexuality, and her primary research interests are in the construction of lesbian identities and communities during the 20th century.