Flying in Place: Black Superheroes and Their Origin Stories

By: Kolton Harris '14

Advising Faculty: Courtney Baker

In recent years, the black superhero has received more attention from scholars. With this surge of interest comes a wealth of uncharted territory. My paper examined the origin stories of black superheroes, some of which have not yet been critically analyzed. The basis for my analysis is the overwhelming repetition of an urban black narrative that serves as the template for black superhero origin stories. It has proven to be narratively restricting and highly dependent on stereotypes.

Throughout this paper, I offer close readings of black superheroes that are informed by criticism of black masculinity. While the superhero narrative is dependent upon relatability and its closeness to the human experience, black superheroes seem to repackage and reimagine the marginalized black male experience in America. My analysis will reveal how the racial realism of comic books is useful when examining superhero storytelling as a means of reinforcing an American ideological power narrative.

This honors thesis may be viewed in its entirety at Digital Commons @ Connecticut College

Related Fields: English