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Documentary delves into superheroes
superheroes documentary

Carnegie continues its three-part documentary series by PBS called “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle” to supplement the art gallery’s current exhibitions, “My Hero! Contemporary Art & Superhero Action” and “Heroes Real & Imagined.”

“Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle” is the first documentary to examine the dawn of the comic book genre and its powerful legacy, as well as the evolution of the characters who leapt from the pages over the last 75 years and their ongoing worldwide cultural impact. Hosted and narrated by Liev Schreiber, Superheroes features more than 50 new interviews, from pioneers such as Stan Lee, Joe Simon and Jerry Robinson to contemporary creators including Mark Ward and Grant Morrison, from commentators such as Michael Chabon and Jules Feiffer to iconic actors like Adam West and Lynda Carter. Dazzling graphics and remarkable stories illuminate an up-to-the-minute history of the superhero, from the comic strip adventurers of the Great Depression up to the blockbuster CGI movie superstars of the 21st century.  

The first episode was viewed on Oct. 20 and featured "Justice and The American Way (1938-1958)."

Episode 2: "Great Power, Great Responsibility (1959-1977)" will be shown at 3 p.m. Nov. 10, following Daniel Edwards' arts lecture.

In the 1960s, a new breed of superhero emerges in pages of Marvel Comics, inspired by the age of atomic energy and space travel and, in turn, inspiring the pop culture and pop artists of the time. Spider-Man, the Hulk and others are the first to have “problems” with which an adult audience can identify, and contemporary social issues make their way into comic books. Black powerhouses such as the Black Panther and Luke Cage appear on the scene, and the pages of “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” explode with relevant storylines as comic books are forced to confront the reality of an increasingly complex world.

The series will conclude with episode 3: "A Hero Can Be Anyone (1978-Present)" at 2 p.m. Dec. 8.

Superheroes are enthusiastically embraced in all forms of media and by all demographics, beginning with the historic "Superman" movie featuring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. In 1986, Batman is overhauled as The Dark Knight to reflect the nocturnal underside of his character, and "Watchmen" brings new sophistication to comic book narratives, illuminating a violent and politicized world.

In the new millennium, superheroes have taken over popular culture with feature films, television shows and video games complementing a new generation of web-based comics that bring superhero adventures to every corner of the world.