Blog Post for April 16

Superheroes Research Plan

  1. Introduction: The relevancy of folklore / pop culture studies to leadership studies.
    1. Can understanding a group’s (or individual’s) major folklore / pop culture help us gain valuable insight into political, social, and cultural norms and how they do or do not change over time?
      1. Particularly in regards to Implicit Leadership Theories and Social Identity Theory of Leadership.
  2. Part 1: Identifying major folklore / pop culture phenomenons in the United States.
    1. The Superhero phenomenon.
      1. Background
        1. Early American Tall Tales
        2. Western Tropes
        3. Comic Book History
        4. Superheroes in Film
        5. Superheroes in Culture
  3. Part 2: The Superhero franchise and its influence on, perpetuation of, or response to American Implicit Leadership Theories.
    1. Social science research on American ILTs
      1. ILTs and (American) social identity.
    2. Four problematic areas of ILTs to be considered in American Superhero films:
      1. American Exceptionalism
        1. Militarism
        2. Social Dominance Orientation Theory
      2. Gender Roles
        1. Feminist Theory
        2. Queer Theory
        3. Toxic Masculinity
      3. Racism
        1. Anglo-Saxon Centricity
        2. Stereotypes
      4. Romanticization of Leaders
        1. Individual vs. Shared Leadership
        2. Hero-Worship
  4. Part 3: Analyzing Superhero films from the beginning until now.
    1. Overview of Superhero films, including box office ratings.
      1. Analysis of the top box-office films against the four problematic areas of ILTs, from earliest released to most recent.
  5. Conclusion: What does all this mean for the superhero film industry?

Apart from actually sitting and watching superhero movies to become extremely comfortable and familiar with the industry and medium, I also have a number of sub-focuses that will require more background knowledge (i.e., I have to do at least minor research on the four overarching problematic areas of ILTs, as well as their sub-components). I want to sit down with Dr. Hoyt to gather recommendations for the best sources to use for leadership theory on gender roles; Dr. Allison for the best on hero-worship; and possibly other professors (not just in the leadership department) who could point in the right direction for the best overview sources of the various theories / concepts I will exploring in superhero films. That could include talking with a film studies professor to find overview sources on film theories (although I spent two years of high school studying film, which included an IB Extended Essay on a film topic).