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Superheroes have been popular for years, and they are rapidly growing as a result of the rise of the digital streaming platforms. From the Greek myths of old to Superman debuting in 1938. The likes of Batman, Spider-Man the X-Men, Wonder Woman, the Hulk and many more have entertained readers. Over time we have seen these characters and other characters appear outside of the printed page and make their way onto our screens.
Film has long been home to such characters with 1978 being an important year. While serials and the like had been a thing before, this was when superheroes reached the big screen proper. “Superman” debuted in cinemas and was a massive success that would spawn follow ups. Despite this, there wouldn’t be a major superhero film until 1989. “Swamp Thing” and “Howard the Duck” were flops, but “Batman” in 1989 took the world by storm, which spun-off multiple sequels.
It looked like superhero films had dropped off from popularity as the 1990s went by, but “Blade” in 1998, then “X-Men” in 2000, followed by “Spider-Man” in 2002 revitalized things. This has led to superheroes dominating the cinema ever since, especially with the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with “Iron Man” in 2008. DC would follow suit in 2013 with “Man of Steel.” More recent entries include “Black Widow,” “Eternals,” “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” “The Suicide Squad” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
Video games have been another home for superheroes for as long as there have been video games. Batman alone has appeared in various games over the past thirty years, with many different genres under his utility belt. There were classic side-scrolling beat ’em ups that tied in with the movies, 3D action with “Batman: The Rise on Sin Tzu” and in 2009 with “Batman: Arkham Asylum,” the first in the franchise that has gone on to earn million. Some other types of game include “Batman: The Telltale Series,” which is an episodic story based game, a slot machine game based on the “Dark Knight” films from Lucky Nugget Casino and you can have fun building and battling in the “Lego Batman” games.
Live-action television of course has been showcasing the battles of good and evil between superheroes for many years. “Batman” from the 1960s starring Adam West and Burt Ward and wa s a smash across the globe. “Wonder Woman” starring Lynda Carter and “The Incredible Hulk” with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno in the 1970s were also popular. There have been several Superman series over the years such as “Superboy,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”, “Smallville” and “Superman & Lois.”
In the last decade, live action superhero shows have become a staple of television. Starting with “Agents of SHIELD” in 2012, the floodgates have been opened, with interest and budgets allowing heroes and villains to thrive on the small screen. Marvel have had several hit programs through Netflix, these being “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage” and “Iron Fist,” with the team-up series “The Defenders” airing in August of this year. The networks of Fox Television has started bringing the X-Men to TV with “Legion,” followed by “The Gifted,” as well as The CW, is drenched in superhero dramas set in the DC Universe.
Sitcom “Powerless” and drama “Constantine,” both on NBC, were cancelled after one season based on DC properties, with the title characters of the former appearing in various other shows since.
Other superhero TV includes “Inhumans,” “The Punisher” and “Runaways” from Marvel. None of this even covers the dozens of animated programs we’ve seen aimed at children and adults that have been on our screens for decades. These characters and stories resonate and entertain us unlike any other and so will be appearing as long as there’s medium for them.
Long live the small screen superheroes!