Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type



Faculty of Arts and Sciences



Date of Original Version



In this thesis, I investigate two representative examples of the superhero as teaching machine of nationalism and consumerism, Superman and Iron Man. In the Superman chapter, I trace the corporate use of superheroes through Superman’s history of appropriation by corporations to sell both abstract ideals and material products. I also consider the rise of the role of media technology and media corporations, beginning with the radio show in 1941 and ending with the first “serious” superhero film in 1978, to show how the viewing audience internalizes messages of nationalism and consumerism. In the Iron Man chapter, I focus on the superhero industry’s shift to focusing on a post-9/11 American hero, discussing the changes to the nationalistic messages resulting from the Iron Man franchise that created a market desire for expensive, innovative technology. I end with a brief look at the future of the superhero film industry and what consequences it may have for the individual.