If you found Martin Scorsese’s rip on Marvel movies triggering, wait until you get a load of what “Watchmen” creator Alan Moore had to say of them.
Speaking with Raphael Sassalki, Moore pulled no punches in his critique of modern superhero movies, which he described as infantile at best and Nietzschean at worst.
“I think the impact of superheroes on popular culture is both tremendously embarrassing and not a little worrying,” said Moore, as reported by Bleeding Cool. “While these characters were originally perfectly suited to stimulating the imaginations of their twelve or thirteen-year-old audience, today’s franchised übermenschen, aimed at a supposedly adult audience, seem to be serving some kind of different function, and fulfilling different needs.”
Moore went on to describe superhero movie audiences as adults clinging to their childhoods while seeking reassurance about the 20th century.
“Primarily, mass-market superhero movies seem to be abetting an audience who do not wish to relinquish their grip on (a) their relatively reassuring childhoods, or (b) the relatively reassuring 20th century,” said Moore. “The continuing popularity of these movies to me suggests some kind of deliberate, self-imposed state of emotional arrest, combined with a numbing condition of cultural stasis that can be witnessed in comics, movies, popular music and, indeed, right across the cultural spectrum.”
Moore, who himself has a history of disavowing film and television adaptations of his own work, then directed his criticisms at the comic book creators for being complicit in this culture.
“The superheroes themselves – largely written and drawn by creators who have never stood up for their own rights against the companies that employ them, much less the rights of a Jack Kirby or Jerry Siegel or Joe Schuster — would seem to be largely employed as cowardice compensators, perhaps a bit like the handgun on the nightstand,” he continued.
However, Moore saved his most blistering criticism for last when he likened the superhero genre to none other than the racist, white supremacist movie “Birth of a Nation,” arguing that it may have been the first superhero movie ever made.
“I would also remark that save for a smattering of non-white characters (and non-white creators) these books and these iconic characters are still very much white supremacist dreams of the master race,” said Moore. “In fact, I think that a good argument can be made for D.W. Griffith’s ‘Birth of a Nation’ as the first American superhero movie, and the point of origin for all those capes and masks.”
Moore’s criticism of superhero movies as some kind of a Nietzschean ode to the Übermensch echoes a similar statement made by director Alejandro González Iñárritu, who said superhero movies send the message that a strongman, and only a strongman, can solve the world’s problems.
“Superheroes … just the word hero bothers me,” said the director in 2014. “What the f*** does that mean? It’s a false, misleading conception, the superhero. Then, the way they apply violence to it, it’s absolutely right wing. If you observe the mentality of most of those films, it’s really about people who are rich, who have power, who will do the good, who will kill the bad. Philosophically, I just don’t like them.”