It's a Bird, It's a Plane: The Revival of the Superhero on the Small Screen

If you've turned on a TV and seen the shows in this fall’s lineup, you may have noticed a new theme: superheroes. While movies have been embracing the world of Marvel and DC for decades, television has often steered away from the “true hero” route in recent history. Supernatural shows may not be anything new to the average TV viewer, but a flurry of superheroes taking over where the antihero usually thrives is a large shift in the television world.

Egocentric and rude, today’s popular TV protagonists live within a world of complex plot lines, often walking the line of right and wrong, or more often than not, walking blatantly on the wrong side. They enchant audiences everywhere with their all too compelling stories and deeply masked redeeming traits. The antihero has been captivating viewers for years now, “turn[ing] TV

Photo courtesy of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. / Facebook

Photo courtesy of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. / Facebook

morality into a gorgeous gray muddle," as stated by Matthew Gilbert in his Boston Globe article. Despite our society’s clear fascination with the antihero, shows such as Gotham, Arrow, “The Flash," Constantine and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have entered the ranks of television either this fall or within the past couple years.

The superhero trope is one filled with prestige, featuring strong, charismatic characters that are able to inspire others to stand up for themselves and fight for what they believe in. In the pilot episode of The Flash, Barry (The Flash) runs to Starling City to see Oliver (The Green Arrow) for guidance on becoming a hero. During this encounter Oliver tells Barry that he can be better than a vigilante because he “can inspire people…, mak[e] a difference, [and] sav[e] people."

A superhero is someone who has suffered beyond any normal standard and yet still chooses to actively put others before his/herself. In a society that is heavily influenced by the media’s portrayal of everything, this switch to strong moral-based characters will help to eliminate the “muddl[ed]” morality currently intrinsic to television and instead focus back on basic altruism. By incorporating the superheroes into television, viewers will be witness to the inspiration inherent to the superhero story.

Another upside (for those nerdy and loyal comic book fans) is that by moving superheroes from the movie theaters and onto the television, there will be more inclusive and in-depth storylines of all the classic comic book characters. These new storylines will include contemporary adaptations, as all classic stories do to attract wider fan bases, and will include in-depth back-stories, numerous villains, plot twists and, most importantly, detailed character growth.

Photo courtesy of Gotham / Facebook

Photo courtesy of Gotham / Facebook

Viewers should tune in to the “The Flash” on the CW on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., Arrow on the CW on Wednesdays at 8 p.m., Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC on Tuesdays at 9 p.m., Gotham on Fox on Mondays at 8 p.m. and “Constantine” on NBC on Fridays at 10 p.m. in order to catch up on all the superhero action this fall.

Movie and television enthusiast who talks about Maine way too often.