The Golden Age comics that Dr. Fredric Wertham blamed as a cause of juvenile delinquency in the 1950s look pretty good to one contemporary psychologist who feels the superheroes in today’s movies set a horrible example:
“There is a big difference in the movie superhero of today and the comic book superhero of yesterday,” said psychologist Sharon Lamb of the University of Massachusetts-Boston, according to a press release from the American Psychological Association. “Today’s superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he’s aggressive, sarcastic and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity. When not in superhero costume, these men, like Ironman, exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns.”
I agree with Dr. Lamb that these are characteristic of the hero in Iron Man 2 — except that more needs to be said. All these excesses were his downfall,
costing him public adulation and the respect of his friends. Tony Stark/Iron Man had to overcome them to continue functioning as a superhero. I’m surprised Dr. Lamb doesn’t approve that example of moral consequences and redemption.
Her co-authored book, Packaging Boyhood: Saving Our Sons from Superheroes, Slackers, and Other Media Stereotypes, published in 2009, sounds as if it might be interesting, because the first sentence on its publicity website is certainly true:
Boys are besieged by images and messages from marketers and the media that encourage slacking over studying; competition over teamwork; power over empowerment; and being cool over being oneself.
[Thanks to David Klaus for the story.]