Are Superheroes Really Just There To Make Fun Of?

A few days back I was watching TV and I came across something I had never seen before.  Granted, I have never been one that is particularly into comics or super hero shoes, but as I have gone through this class my eyes have been opened and I can watch and read a new genre and find certain aspects that I very much so enjoy.  So back to watching TV, I flip channels and I see a parody of an old spider man episode.  I became intrigued and looked up what exactly it was.  I found that I had stumbled upon Marvel Mash-Ups.  Looking through video after video I was amazed by the effort that went into editing and voice overs, and by how entertaining, yet slightly upsetting, I found it to be.  The Hulk was always smelling up the room and Spiderman was always looking at himself in the mirror because of how attractive he thought he was. They were no longer characters to look up to or strive to be.

Obviously these were not made to be over analyzed, they were made to be enjoyed for what they were.    I could not help myself though, I began looking over all of them and wondering why exactly are these being done the way they are.  Why is Hulk being considered disgusting and dumb.  Why is Spiderman considered to be vain and almost useless? In this clip, the Hulk is shown as being disgusting, and his other persona, Bruce Banner, is not being shed in any better light, Marvel Mash-Up Ep. 29: Sick DAY.  The Hulk, because he is this large green thing, for lack of a better term, is perceived to be almost vulgar.  In every episode I watched he comes out of a bathroom, or a hole in the ground, and has flooded it and a thick yellow cloud follows him wherever he goes directly after.  I understand that the Hulk is not the most graceful of heros, but does that mean it is okay to make him less than he is? Again, I also understand that this is just a two minute video, why be bothered by the way a made up character is being portrayed? I think the main problem is that these are characters that are looked up to, what good comes out of demeaning their character?

In other videos Spiderman and his Amazing Friends are made to look even dumber than the Hulk does.  It starts with Ice Man getting lost because he is too interested in his power, and then it goes to Spiderman being very self involved and checking himself out in the mirror.  Throughout this series of short videos, nobody is really looked upon nicely.  All of the heros are dumb and can only be useful when muscle is involved, like when Spiderman is trying to fix the villain’s back.  Spiderman cannot even help out the police in a useful manner in this episode, Marvel Mash-Up Ep. 7: Shocker.  He spills the jewels and they even come out to say that they wish he would not help.  Spiderman is made to be dumb and self centered in this series.  This could be because, from the limited view I have of Spiderman comics and movies, he always comes across as arrogant and always has the perfect little quip or comeback.  Maybe that is the commentary the authors are trying to put out, but I still find it interesting that a character that is usually so well respected is so easily put down.

I know that these videos are all in good fun and mean no harm, but I cannot understand why they are put out for the public.  I watch these and I feel like the characters are not being taken seriously and are being out down over and over.  Their character is being demeaned.  This is definitely somebodies comedic preference, but I cannot really see why.  These characters were created to be looked up to, children that watch the actual TV show, or read the comics aspire to be like these people, and these short videos are almost trying to make sure nobody really feels that way.  If you do not want a character to be loved and you feel as if you need to lessen them, why make them so likable in the first place?


  3 comments for “Are Superheroes Really Just There To Make Fun Of?

  1. kbusch
    March 14, 2013 at 11:04 pm

    I think this is an interesting topic because from my understanding of your post, you seem to question why someone would make crude/unintelligent parodies of superheros that portray these admired characters in a negative view. Watching the parodies I’m not sure if they really intend to demean the characters. Some of the jokes in the parodies critique the form of the cartoon show (ie woman talking to hulk but his face never changing could be seen as a critique of the animators). The videos take old cartoons of classic comic heroes and dubs over them, it could just all be about making fun of the cartoon show. Another point I’d like to make is that I think it is fine to parody these characters (I don’t think the youtube videos are really that great at doing that). Parodies can be a great way to bring out criticism to any genre and it would be interesting to see one specific to the superhero genre that’s more intelligent than the youtube videos. SNL’s parody The Ambiguously Gay Duo for instance, is more intelligent although still crude and perhaps offensive to some people’s sensibilities, but it definitely pokes fun at the Superhero-sidekick relationship successfully. The parody is meant to look like a retro superhero cartoon from the 60s or 70s. The SNL parody could easily be trying to point out that for such a homophobic time and a homophobic genre there sure are a lot of close male relationships (where both men happen to be in skin tight suits) in the genre (a genre whose audience is typically supposed to be heterosexual males valuing stereotypical males things like strength and “macho-ness”).

  2. Andre Keng Sanixay
    March 15, 2013 at 9:31 am

    I wouldn’t go far to say that superheroes are only made to be mocked. People mock historical icons and celebrities as well. Examples include George Washington chopping down a cherry tree, Ben Franklin flying a kite in a lightning storm, Steve Irwing with a stingray, and the Chuck Norris facts. People can mock anything or anyone, regardless if it’s fact or fiction. I believe that superheroes are easy to mock because they are fictional. Some people prefer not to mock real people because they don’t want to offend them. With fictional characters, they can mock them in any way they want.

  3. Mamoru Fuun
    March 21, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    I think the main reason people go out of their ways to make up these silly and humiliating portrayals of famous characters may be to establish them as being further human. I mean the Marvel Mashup of Spider-Man you showed has him openly flexing in the mirror while tossing out faux punches talking like hes Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. If you were to watch that actual footage from the old cartoon what other way would there be to interpret this scene as? This clearly portrays spider-man as being a narcissistic character obsessed with body image and trying to look cool.

    So I think the main point in these super-hero parodies, aside from comedy, is to portray these immensely powerful and respected super heroes in the most mundane and embarrassing life circumstances possible with the point being demonstrating that many of them are still human (barring aliens and what not). Whose to really say the hulk doesn’t just space out from time to time after just rescuing two people; if he does it for a living it has to be quite a dull and mediocre job for him by now.

    This clip illustrates my point nicely, an interview with Seth Green on Conan about his portrayal of Aqua man on his show Robot Chicken. Seth Green interview.

Comments are closed.