In 2022, superheroes seem more vulnerable than ever.
Marvel has cranked out so many new movies and shows this year that quality control started to slip as its underpaid and overexploited special-effects artists staged a revolt. Meanwhile, DC’s cinematic ambitions seemed to crash and burn under the pressure of corporate consolidation. And Amazon’s The Boys continues to be the best superhero story around while mercilessly satirizing the entire genre.
Ten years from now, we may look back at 2022 as the beginning of the end of superheroes’ cultural dominance.
With that in mind, Inverse presents a collection of stories exploring the frailty of superheroes. We unpack how comic books handle death (who decides which heroes will die?) and talk to the rock star who accurately predicted Superman’s demise a year before it happened in 1993.
We also speak to Janina Scarlet, the creator of Superhero Therapy and a Ukrainian refugee using mental-health strategies to help people affected by the ongoing war. We dig into She-Hulk’s obsession with breaking the fourth wall and why it doesn’t always work. We unearth the colonialist conspiracies hiding within Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And we take a closer look at the cynical truth behind the wrestler-to-superhero trope on display in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Black Adam.
There’s so much to love about superheroes, and you can read those stories on Inverse, too, from passionate movie reviews to diligent explainers to mind-boggling fan theories. But what do these epic adventures stand for and where are they taking us, for better or for worse?
We’d argue there has never been a better time to explore superheroes’ weaknesses. So grab some kryptonite, and let’s peel back the armor shielding the most powerful cultural force in the universe.
The Inverse SUPERHERO ISSUE challenges the most dominant idea in our culture today.