Film and Theatre Studies Paper on Comic Books and the Cold War

The Cold War had a profound influence on popular culture. Indeed, they steered the direction of comic culture in America. Stan Lee, editor in chief of Marvel Comics decided to make the characters relatable to regular people by making them have social difficulties. Instead of reacting to the social conditions developed by events like the Great Depression or the Second World War, the superheroes who became popular in the advent of Marvel comics were shown in the light of the political war of that time, The Cold War.

A large part of this history has not been portrayed in the new narrations, especially in films where reference to conflicts that are long gone would baffle the audience (Costello 126). However, irrespective of whether or not it is relevant in today’s age, the Cold War brought media propaganda to another novel level; Iron Man demonstrates this. Lee enhanced the status of Iron Man as an anti-communist crusader. The villain side featured the likes of Crimson Dynamo and the Titanium Man, who were armoured villains hired by the Soviet Union. In her initial appearances, the Black Widow was a spy for the Soviet Union; she managed to possess Tony Stark. Most prominently was Tony Stark’s arch-nemesis, the Mandarin. He was a Chinese nationalist who was not in good terms with the Communist government; the Mandarin had an abundant amount of personal power, which he used in his attempts to conquer the world. He was also a racist in every conceivable way and reflected the anxiety shown by Chinese nationalists during the Cold War. In his journal article, Chambliss explores how superheroes are artifacts of the American experience. He asserts superheroes were able to depict the American perception of the Cold War (Chambliss 149). Whereas the Americans used their powers for the public good, thus, giving them a heroic status, their rivals from other nations used their power for personal gain and were largely perceived as villains.

Marvel Comics was admired by the youth of the 60’s and 70’s because of their focus on writing comics that were related to the present. The comics epitomized the Cold War. The comics symbolized how the Cold War had a profound influence on popular culture.


Works Cited

Chambliss, Julian C. “Superhero comics: Artifacts of the US experience.” Juniata Voices 12 (2012): 149

Costello, Matthew J. Secret identity crisis: comic books and the unmasking of Cold War America. A&C Black, 2009.