Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle (2013) s01e03 Episode Script

A Hero Can Be Anyone

1 SCHREIBER: In 2012, the feature film of The Avengers earned $1.
5 billion around the world.
[Roaring] SCHREIBER: Making it the third highest grossing film of all time.
The climax also featured the largest number of superheroes ever assembled on a movie screen.
WOMAN: Thank you.
You're welcome.
SCHREIBER: In real life, comic book conventions assemble superheroes by the thousands.
Today I am golden age Batman.
Great for the kids, but still nice and action-y.
WOMAN: Thank you.
MARV WOLFMAN: Cons all around the country are growing faster and faster because people do like all this.
They love science fiction, they love fantasy, they love the mysteries, they love the superheroes.
Superman is just awesome.
He flies, he's always there when you need him.
WOMAN: He's really strong, and I would date him.
MAN: This is worth $300,000.
The type of fantasy we love is now throughout the entire world.
GEOFF JOHNS: Games, film, TV.
They're everywhere.
TODD McFARLANE: We've gotten into pop culture now, and none of it is silly anymore.
Hello, I'm Liev Schreiber.
At the beginning of the 21st century, superheroes are everywhere.
Six decades after they were nearly driven into the ground by government investigation, comic book characters are more powerful and more complex than ever.
Their adventures can be noble and inspiring, or grim and gritty.
But the mythology of our great superheroes resonates not only in America but in every corner of the globe.
So any mom or dad who's considering tossing out all those comic books under their kid's bed -- might be worth thinking twice about.
How did comic books go from being disposable ten-cent pulps to the cornerstone of an industry worth billions of dollars? How did costumed superheroes expand their appeal beyond children and adolescents to be embraced by every generation and every demographic? How did America transform into a nation where anyone can be a superhero and a superhero can be anyone? Therefore, I shall resign the presidency, effective at noon tomorrow.
REPORTER: Worst weekend yet in the growing gasoline shortage.
Elvis Presley, dead at 42.
The true problems of our nation are much deeper, deeper than gasoline lines or energy shortages.
Deeper even than inflation or recession.
SCHREIBER: By the late 1970s, it seemed as if truth, justice, and the American way were completely unraveling.
CARTER: All the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America.
SCHREIBER: Traditional heroes were becoming harder to find.
CARTER: It is a crisis of confidence.
The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
SCHREIBER: Who was going to come to our rescue now? Who are you? A friend.
Bye! MAN: 626, Take 1.
SCHREIBER: In 1975, plans were announced for Superman, the first full-length feature film with a superhero at the center.
I don't need a geography lesson from you, Luther.
SCHREIBER: Superman was produced for Warner Brothers, which was part of Warner Communications, the parent company that now owned DC Comics and its major characters.
You know, we'd always worried during the production whether we'd succeeded in bringing Superman to life.
Because making people believe that a man could fly wasn't really the hardest part of making the film.
I mean, we all know that Superman can leap over tall buildings, but the question is, could he leap over the generation gap since those early Siegel and Shuster days? We wanted to know if a man from the innocent '30s could survive in the post-Watergate '70s.
Well, thanks to all of you, he's doing just fine.
SCHREIBER: Released at Christmas of 1978, the Superman film was an unqualified success.
Critics and audiences marveled at its epic story and the unprecedented special effects.
GARY PHILLIPS: I'm old enough to remember the Captain America TV movies, which were god awful.
You know, it was pathetic, man, you had no effects, so you needed to just throw the shield, and then, you know, and then the next cut would be the shield hitting somebody.
It was like, "Come on, man, really?" I just thank God for CGI and special effects.
JEPH LOEB: The moment in the movie that is the magic, that to this day I can sit and watch over and over again is they go flying, they land, they have a beautiful scene where he says, "Good night, Ms.
Lane" LOIS: Oh, good night! LOEB: He flies away.
LOIS: Superman.
LOEB: In one shot, you follow Lois into the apartment LOIS: Superman.
LOEB: All of a sudden, there's a knock at the door.
She comes back around -- it's still one shot -- we have come from -- Superman has flown away, we come back around, we now go to the door, we open the door, and there's Clark.
CLARK: Uh, hi.
Can I come in? That's it.
Doesn't matter what happens after that.
You are completely sold.
CLARK: I mean I was, at first, really nervous about tonight, uh, but then I decided, well, darn it, I'm just going to show you the time of your life.
MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI: It's not about, "You'll believe a man can fly," it's, "You'll believe a man playing Superman can act.
" People didn't watch that film because he flew really good.
They watched it for Chris Reeve, who gave a performance that is one for the ages, who you cared about as you watched him.
If that character had not been as well crafted, as well portrayed, all the flying in the world wouldn't have made a difference.
JOHNS: That was the first movie that took it seriously, and that made it more than just a superhero film, more than a campy take on a superhero.
It made it believable, and it gave it, again, heart and weight, and I think it influenced everybody since then.
I think it still does.
SCHREIBER: The development of the Superman film had a seismic influence on Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of the original character.
They were no longer receiving any income from Superman, and both had fallen on hard times.
REPORTER: Joe Shuster, an artist who is almost blind, living in near poverty.
Jerry Siegel, reduced to supporting a wife and daughter on a $7,000-a-year job as a mail clerk.
JULES FEIFFER: Siegel and Shuster were sitting there poor, watching this zillion-dollar movie being made, in which everybody was going to make an awful lot of money except the people responsible for the Superman character.
SCHREIBER: With the support of Neal Adams, Jerry Robinson, and the National Cartoonists Society, a settlement was negotiated with Warner Communications.
REPORTER: Siegel and Shuster, both 61, will each receive an annual $20,000 pension, full medical care, and provisions for relatives, their byline restored.
JERRY ROBINSON: What I wanted to do was restore their self-respect and their dignity as creators.
And that was part of getting their name on that property.
JENETTE KAHN: When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster started to get credit for their amazing, iconic creation, Superman, that was a triumphant day in comic books.
And I remember going to the premiere of the first movie -- unfortunately Joe wasn't well enough to attend, but Jerry was there with his wife, Joanne, and he got to see his name and Joe's emblazoned on the screen, and he cried during the movie, and he said, "This is just how I imagined it.
" SCHREIBER: Superman was one of the biggest moneymakers in Warner Brothers film history up to that point, but comic book sales of superhero titles were plummeting, because new readers were hard to come by.
GERRY CONWAY: With the advent of continuing readers, people who kept reading the book into their late teens, their twenties, their thirties, their forties, they wanted things to change.
They wanted growth, they wanted development.
You can't have that with static characters.
If you're an adult reading superhero comics, you want adult issues of mortality and sexuality and violence and world affairs and irony.
[Mendelssohn's "Wedding March" playing] STAN LEE: In trying to make our characters real, we decided, "Let's marry Spider-Man.
" I mean, Peter Parker had been dating Mary Jane for years, he was in love with her.
Well, what's the next logical development? SCHREIBER: The nuptials, held in Shea Stadium in New York and officiated by Stan Lee, earned national press.
The New York Times reported the wedding in its "Style" section.
The paper quoted Mary Jane as saying that the groom was nervous -- "He's been pacing the ceiling for weeks.
" STAN LEE: I pronounce you Spider-Man and wife.
You may kiss the bride.
Excelsior! If you had been reading Spider-Man for ten years, fifteen years, this was a logical place for the character to go, but when you have a character that has to be there for the next wave of young readers, at what point do you stop? Does Peter Parker then have kids? Does he then grow old and become a grandfather? Does he then die? We really couldn't go there.
MARK WAID: At the same time that Spider-Man was getting married off, DC Comics had their own take on, "Well, how do you change the characters without breaking them?" ADAM WEST: Do you know who I am, punk? I'm the worst nightmare you ever had.
Kind that made you wake up screaming for your mother.
You've got a mother, don't you? Every punk should have a mother SCHREIBER: In 1986, artist and writer Frank Miller reinvented Batman in The Dark Knight Returns, reinvigorating the Caped Crusader by bringing him back to his nocturnal roots.
WAID: With Dark Knight, Frank Miller took Batman -- who, to all Americans who weren't faithful comic readers, was still Adam West, still a camp pow, zap, Wham character -- and catapulted him into a very adult, very gritty, very dark story.
FRANK MILLER: Something terrible happened -- I turned 29 years old, and I realized I was about to turn 30 and I was going to be older than Batman, and I could not let that stand.
I had to make him older.
He's the tough father figure.
I had to come in and fix this right quick, so I made Batman older.
And the more I played out the idea, the better it got.
NEAL ADAMS: He chose to make him 55, or 60, or whatever that age is.
He's older, he's grizzled, he's thick, he's muscled.
In spite of all this, he will never change.
He is Batman.
Until he dies he will be Batman.
WAID: The Dark Knight was about a dystopic Gotham in the future where Batman had retired and was coming out of retirement.
He was creaky, he was broken, all the villains were aged and gone, but a new menace had risen to bring Batman to the fore.
And it was phenomenal.
STRACZYNSKI: I think the impact of Dark Knight and Frank Miller's work cannot be overstated.
It broke out those characters in ways that no one had ever dared do before.
It brought an adult point of view to comics that had been absent.
And I think it really stands to be one of the most seminal works in the field today.
ASHLEY MILLER: I loved the 1989 Tim Burton Batman.
I was a child of The Dark Knight Returns, and I saw that realized on screen, and he wasn't Adam West, and it wasn't camp.
To have a big movie come out and have the studio really put it out there and say, "Well, this is the new Batman.
" It had that dark, but still kind of fun, take on the character.
It really galvanized the character in a lot of people's heads.
WAID: Tim Burton's Batman refined the character back to its roots.
It was just a man fighting crime in his batsuit, going out at night and terrorizing criminals.
Don't kill me, man! Don't kill me! Don't kill me, man! BATMAN: I'm not going to kill you.
I want you to do me a favor.
I want you to tell all your friends about me.
What are you! I'm Batman.
WAID: That moment when he holds a criminal by the throat, that's the essence of Batman, that's why he wears the suit, that's why he adopts the guise in the comics, because he wants to frighten criminals.
LEN WEIN: I always used to say, you put Hitler and the devil and Gadhafi and you name it, and the Batman in the room -- Batman is still the scariest guy in the room.
WAID: In the world of superhero comics, the pivotal moment wasn't a specific publication, it was a specific year.
In 1986, DC hit with both Frank Miller's The Dark Knight and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen.
My name's Alan Moore.
I write comics.
SCHREIBER: Alan Moore was a self-proclaimed neo-pagan from England's north country.
He had been successful at putting new spins on some of DC's older characters.
In 1986, with artist Dave Gibbons, he began an epic 12-issue series about a team of deeply flawed heroes.
Among them were Rorschach, a trench-coated psychopath; Dr.
Manhattan, an atomically enhanced scientist with messianic powers; and the Comedian, an amoral government mercenary.
ALAN MOORE: I wanted to create characters that had got moral ambiguities, that weren't perfect, one-dimensional, "He's the good guy, he's the bad guy.
" It was very much an '80s story, borne out of that miasma of anxiety and unease, that, as I remember it, was hanging over all of us then.
Most of the liberal world was watching in horror at the inexorable rise of the Reagan-Thatcher right-wing coalition.
At the same time we had elements of fascism starting to make themselves prevalent upon the streets of Britain with the rise of the National Front.
And all in all things were looking fairly bleak.
ZACK SNYDER: In Watchmen, there's a lot of great stuff about the American dream, and in the Alan Moore version, it's a little bit of like an American nightmare, because basically, you know, you have characters like the Comedian, who is like the Punisher.
[Dance music playing] He's a gun-toting construct of U.
foreign policy, and he's this scary psychopath that's come to kill us all.
Damn, I love working on American soil, Dan.
Ain't had this much fun since Woodward and Bernstein.
He's just shot all these, like, protesters, and they're all crying about the American dream.
What the hell happened to us? What happened to the American dream? What happened to the American dream? It came true! You're looking at it.
SNYDER: And I think that that's Alan Moore's sort of view of America.
BRADFORD WRIGHT: Instead of imagining kind of a perfect antihero the way Spider-Man was, he looks at the basic question that has been at the heart of superheroes from the beginning.
Anyone who would put on a costume and fight bad guys is not normal.
MOORE: The streets are extended gutters, and the gutters are full of blood, and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown.
The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waist, and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout, "Save us!" and I'll look down and whisper, "No.
" STRACZYNSKI: It spoke of the darkness inside of us, not just the external threats, and that was something that galvanized the industry.
Good night, children, and sweet dreams, wherever you are.
Books like Watchmen, which I was the editor of, and The Dark Knight Returns were both very violent books.
They were meant to be exceptions to the rule.
But they were hugely successful, and so everybody started to do those books.
PHILLIPS: You could argue that some of that got way out of hand and way too much down certain paths, but nonetheless, that had to be done, because I think that was necessary to sort of reinvent and kind of reinvigor the field.
GRANT MORRISON: People at the time were saying there's no point in doing superheroes anymore, because this has effectively destroyed them, it's exposed them to the light of reason, and they can no longer operate.
But I think as symbolic ideas, they remain useful, and we should try and treat them not as anything that could ever possibly be real, but as fiction and as fantasy that is designed to tell us things about ourselves.
What is this place? PROFESSOR X: Anonymity is a mutant's first defense against the world's hostility.
BOY: Hey! No powers! SCHREIBER: The superheroes who connected most strongly with readers in the 1980s were a diverse international group of freaks called the X-Men.
PROFESSOR X: I protected them, taught them to control their powers.
CHRIS CLAREMONT: Every other character at Marvel came to their powers by accident.
The difference with the X-Men was that they're born this way.
No matter what they do, they will become active, super-powered mutants.
NIGHTCRAWLER: They say you can imitate anybody.
Even their voice.
NIGHTCRAWLER: Then why not stay in disguise all the time, you know? Look like everyone else.
MYSTIQUE: Because we shouldn't have to.
STAN LEE: The only point that I was trying to make in The X-Men was that we shouldn't hate or fear people because they're different.
Human? You dare call that thing human? STAN LEE: So beneath the surface it was an anti-bigotry story.
I didn't think anybody would notice, but I wanted to put that in.
And kids are funny, young people are funny -- they did notice.
So young people, as it did for me, get exposed to the idea that you know what, there's more to this world than just me.
There is a variety of people, and if they work together, they can work for a common cause.
That for me was always the thing that just brought a smile to my face about comic books.
QUESADA: X-Men speaks to a part of comic book readership, the sort of the nerd in all of us, the person that feels a little bit ostracized or who's in a smaller group than the -- let's say the kids at the popular table.
CHRISTINA STRAIN: X-Men is like high school.
You get to watch all of these people who don't like each other have to work together, this fighting amongst the team, somebody's got a super secret that they're trying to keep, and there's romance within the ranks.
It's high school.
And everybody can identify with high school.
PHIL JIMENEZ: It says a lot about the success of The X-Men that anyone can read into it whatever they want to.
You can find in The X-Men the metaphor that you're seeking because it's all about difference.
CLAREMONT: "I'm a Mormon -- the X-Men speak to me.
I'm Black, I'm Asian, I'm an immigrant.
I'm gay -- they speak to me.
" MOM: Honey, aren't you supposed to be at school? There's something I need to tell you.
The X-Men is the most amazing metaphor, I find, for young gay people, because in that book they're, they are constantly targeted for being different, for no other crime than being born.
Uh, wow.
MOM: So when did you first know you were a -- X-MAN: A mutant? JIMENEZ: It's all about, I think, glorifying that difference no matter what the world around you says.
No matter how much they hate you.
Have you tried not being a mutant? SCHREIBER: It seemed fitting that the first gay superhero would come out in the pages of the X-Men universe.
MILLER: When Northstar was created in 1983 as a member of Alpha Flight, his sexuality wasn't an issue that was on the table.
Over the last 30 years, comic books have dealt more frankly with sexuality than they did back in 1983, so if you're looking for, "How did the books evolve to the point where Northstar could go from the very fast, flying superhero who was part of the Canadian superteam, to the X-Man who is homosexual and getting married in 2013?" The answer is that culture evolved to make it possible for that event to be depicted in the comics.
You owe me some money.
MAN: Come on, Stu, let's not do this.
No man takes a beating like that without a mark to show for it.
MAN: Come on, buddy, this isn't going to be worth it.
I know what you are.
WOLVERINE: You lost your money.
You keep this up, you'll lose something else.
MAN: Come on, buddy.
Look out! Get out of my bar, freak.
[Growls] WEIN: Wolverine was a hero only by restraint.
His natural instinct was to sushi you.
And he would do his best not to do that.
Wolverine famously said, "I'm the best there is at what I do.
What I do isn't very nice.
" And that's why people love him.
Because he's the guy who can do things that aren't very nice, but he does them for the right reasons.
JIM LEE: Wolverine is a breakout hero for a lot of different reasons, I'm sure.
But for me personally it was because he was short.
I'm like 5'4".
Hugh Jackman's super tall so everyone thinks he's tall now, but in the comic books he was cool in my mind because he wasn't your typical 6'2" Batman, Superman-type character.
He was a 5'3" guy who was built like a fireplug who was very feral and an antihero.
He wasn't a guy that was bound by whatever code of ethics most heroes at that time operated under.
I just really admired that kind of rebellious streak and the fact that he just really didn't give a crap.
SCHREIBER: Marvel X-Men number 1 was the single best-selling comic book issue in history.
Published in 1991 in variant covers with a story by Chris Claremont and art by Jim Lee, it sold a staggering 8 million copies.
Lee was part of a new breed of artists that brought their superstar talents to whatever title they worked on.
REPORTER: Kids large and small waited for hours to meet the man behind today's Spider-Man -- Todd McFarlane.
McFARLANE: I changed a couple things.
There were cosmetic changes on Spider-Man himself and on his wife and a couple of things, and I just brought the style from what I thought was about a 1968 style into, into the '90s.
MIKE MALVE: A book like Spider-Man, the sales weren't that great, and Todd came in and just started drawing Spider-Man totally different.
[Makes webbing sound] He created this spaghetti webbing.
Spider-Man's webbing were essentially three lines and X's.
Which was functional if you went left and right and down, but what happened when you went towards camera? The lines got bigger, and it got silly.
To me, Spider-Man's little shooter is just string with holes in it -- I'm getting geeky on you -- and then it goes and it just and he's got his web.
And that was boom! And then all of a sudden, the editor sorta gave me heck.
MALVE: The editor hated it.
Everybody hated it.
"Todd! You gotta stop doing those, those spaghetti webbings!" Ohh! He gave a name to it.
Of course, I did what I all smart people do.
You always say yes.
And I actually made the spaghetti webbing twice as long.
It sold like two million copies.
McFARLANE: The next two or three times they called me in, I went, "Why are we having this conversation? Your job is to hire me to sell books.
You don't have to like me, you don't have to like my artwork, and we don't have to share burgers.
Alls I have to do is sell books.
I am doing that better than anybody in this corporation.
" And it was that stuff that eventually drove me away from the company.
MALVE: The only reason they were selling that Spider-Man poster was because it was Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man pose or Jim Lee's Wolverine, and they felt slighted, like, "You can't give us something for that?" They went to Marvel and said, "You know what? We want our own imprint, we want more power.
" And Marvel, being corporate, said, "Well, that's nice and that's swell, but it's Spider-Man selling the comics, not you.
" So these kids went off and formed Image comics in 1992.
It was a whole new breath that was breathed into this genre.
Aah! Spawn, by Todd McFarlane, was absolutely at the forefront of it.
McFARLANE: I wasn't a big fan of Superman.
And the reason was is that I felt he was impervious.
No matter what he did, it didn't cost him anything.
So I created Spawn in such a way that he basically had the powers of Superman, but if he used them, it would shorten his life.
MALVE: They thought, "Why should we create comic books or new characters that we don't own?" They didn't have editors and big companies saying, "Look, you shouldn't do this or you shouldn't do that.
" They can do whatever they want.
JIM LEE: We had the freedom to tell any kind of story we wanted, and certainly that was impressed upon all the different creators that we've worked with, so it's the inmates in charge of the asylum.
[Chuckles] SCHREIBER: At Image, stories went in more violent directions, and villains could easily be killed off.
McFARLANE: Here's Batman -- he goes and gets the Joker, and the Joker kills somebody and they put him in jail, and the Joker escapes, and then he kills somebody and Batman gets him and he escapes and he kills somebody, ad nauseum for forty years.
Well, there's now a hundred dead people.
At some point, Batman could stop the killing.
Poof Kill the Joker.
We're done, we just ended it.
He's a corporate character -- we can't do that.
So in issue five of Spawn, there's a character I created, Billy Kincaid, and he was a pedophile.
Spawn took Billy Kincaid out and just said in that issue, "I am not like a Marvel character, and I am not like a DC character.
" I didn't have a comics code, and I go, "I can do R-rated comic books now if I need to.
" SCHREIBER: The edgy, gritty, unrestrained comics at Image immediately sold millions of copies, while at the same time the superhero who started it all was out of vogue, and DC comics was eager to make Superman relevant again.
LOUISE SIMONSON: The Superman books were linked together.
All of us writers and artists would get together about once a year and create a loose continuity for the entire next year.
We were having one of these meetings, and we had come up with the wedding of Superman and Lois.
And we asked Jenette Kahn, who was the publisher, to listen to the idea, and Jenette said, "Oh, you can't do that.
We can't have them married because they're not married in the TV show.
" And we were just a little disgruntled, and as she closed out the door, Jerry Ordway said what he always says, which is, "Let’s just kill him.
" And instead of laughing it off this time, we said, "Yeah, yeah, let's just kill him.
" REPORTER: It wasn't kryptonite that killed Superman.
It was the comic strip's writers.
They killed off Superman.
What's next! We had done that many times in the past, but, you know, he would be dead in one issue and alive in the next, so we said, "Oh, no, no, he is going to be seriously dead.
" He's not going to just die in one issue.
It's going to be a painful, slow battle and death.
And then he is going to stay dead.
And the day actually that Superman died, we all wore black armbands in the office.
SCHREIBER: "The Death of Superman" was an 11-issue crossover event that received unprecedented media attention.
Eager buyers were given a choice of the actual comic book or a commemorative edition wrapped in mylar for collectors.
So here we go, this is it right here, this is what started the big boom of collecting with DC, one of the biggest books of all time, Superman 75, "The Death of Superman" -- Black Bag version.
Inside, you had this comic book right here, tombstone of Superman, stamp collection, Daily Planet obituary, the black armband.
REPORTER: Why did he have to die? He's maybe a little too good for the world we live in right now.
REPORTER: Also, sales were lagging -- from a peak of nearly a million comic books a month in the 1950s to barely a quarter of a million recently.
But the "Death of Superman" issue that flooded comic book stores today is expected to sell close to three million copies.
MALVE: People were buying them ten at a time, and buying them for their aunts and their uncles and their nieces and nephews and friends, and their dogs, I don't know.
They were buying them for everybody.
WOMAN: I have a two-year-old baby, and I figure when she gets grown, this is a college education.
And I'll be back hereto buy the issue when he comes back, so that she can go to pre-med school also.
SIMONSON: We knew we were going to bring him back, because we're not stupid.
Besides, they wouldn't have let us kill him for real! I couldn't believe that people actually thought that he was for real dead.
We're so used to comic books being the land of eternal rebirth that it never occurred to us that people would think he was dead for real.
And it was only finally after a year of sustained torture that we did bring back our hero.
MALVE: Nothing lasts forever, so a year later when they revealed the return of Superman, all of a sudden we were having cases of comics that weren't selling.
WAID: The problem there is that people were suddenly investing, investing, investing, when there was no buyer.
Like the Beanie Babies phenomenon, where suddenly collectibility is everything and then one day the market drops out, in the early 1990s it happened with comics too.
MORRISON: It was a bubble.
Prices were inflated.
And suddenly people were coming in and saying, "If you have number one of this comic, with its special gold foil coven this will one day be worth as much as an issue of Action Comics Number one that your mother's kept in the cellar.
" And of course it wasn't, because these comics were being produced in mass quantities -- there's still millions of them lying in warehouses now that aren't worth anything at all.
MAN: Twenty-five bucks.
It's half price.
SCHREIBER: The grim and gritty era of superhero comics was ending, but a darker reality would overtake not just the comic book universe, but the real world.
WRIGHT: September 11, 2001, the meaning of, "Look -- up in the sky," changed forever in New York City.
Changed horribly.
The blurring had occurred between comic book fantasy and reality.
Any kid who had grown up reading comic books saw New York buildings destroyed over and over again in many ways, but none of that could prepare people for actually seeing the reality.
One of the things that became very clear to me and to all of us at Marvel is that it was something that we were going to have to address in our books.
We're a company, a universe, that has Spider-Man swing across those towers.
We had to address 9/11.
STRACYZSKI: "Only madmen could contain the thought, execute the act, fly the planes.
The sane world will always be vulnerable to madmen because we cannot go where they go to conceive of such things.
We could not see it coming.
We could not be here before it happened.
We could not stop it.
But we are here now.
You cannot see it us for the dust, but we are here.
" QUESADA: The idea of our character spiritually being behind the rescue workers and in awe of them -- the police department, the fire department, EMS workers, volunteers, anyone who was there.
MORRISON: But what that comic really was and why it was meaningful and poignant was, it was Marvel Comics' response to this tragedy in its city, and really all the heroes could do is gather around impotently and weep.
It was an acknowledgement of, "We're no good in this situation, so what can we do?" Today we take an essential step in defeating terrorism, while protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans.
It is now my honor to sign into law the USA PATRIOT Act of 2001.
[Applause] WAID: Marvel Comics took a look at the world of the 2000s, looking at the Iraq war, the loss of personal liberty that we're experiencing in a lot of ways, and focused that in a story called Civil War.
Superheroes are not registered agents of the government.
Superheroes are wild cards out there, and they can do whatever they want to do.
The focus of Civil War became, "Should we as a government force our superheroes to register like cops, like firefighters?" MORRISON: The central thesis of it, which was, "How much freedom are you willing to give up for security," was a real burning question for us all at the time.
It starts with Captain America on the right, and Iron Man's on the left, and it ends, the confrontation -- they've swapped places, and now Iron Man's become this representative of the establishment, and Captain America represents old America, this kind of outlaw, liberal America, refusing to bow down to the powers of the state.
IRON MAN: Becoming public employees makes perfect sense if it helps people sleep a little easier.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: I think this plan will split us down the middle.
I think you're going to have us at war with one another.
MORRISON: And it was very simple, like a cartoon, but I think that's why it worked.
This is how you solve problems in comics.
Here's one guy representing this, and here's one guy representing that, and we'll let them fight each other and see who wins.
SCHREIBER: As America waged its war on terror, a 2005 film version of Batman established him as the "manned drone of 21st-century urban warfare.
" It was the first of a blockbuster trilogy of Dark Knight films, all directed by Christopher Nolan.
MORRISON: The Nolan movies were, I think, a complete response to the state of emergency after 9/11.
This is about a war, and it's about a stateless war, and it's about one man against an enemy that you can't even point to because they could come out of any hole at any time.
SNYDER: Christopher Nolan's Batman is the coolest, most serious Batman.
You've finally learned to do what is necessary.
I won't kill you but I don't have to save you.
SNYDER: And the audience is hungry for their mythology to be taken seriously.
They want their mythology to be respected, and I think that's what Chris Nolan does.
He respects your belief in Batman.
People have always said, like, "Oh, Dark Knight is super dark.
" I'm like, "lt's dark, but it's still fun.
" So, what do you think? Does it come in black? SCHREIBER: Of course, most superhero films simply provide an escape Watch out! - Oh! Ow! - [Screams] SCHREIBER: bringing to life the conflicts of the comic book pages, where supervillains threaten harm and superheroes come to the rescue.
LOEB: The movie that changed the world was Spider-Man.
It was a movie that spoke to everyone, it was a movie that couldn't be made until it came out because we hadn't technologically gotten to that place.
You couldn't do that 20 years ago.
They weren't able to do it technically.
They didn't have the special effects that they have now.
I mean, when you see Spider-Man swinging on that web from building to building, it's fantastic.
SCHREIBER: It had taken Spider-Man 40 years to make it to the screen.
In that time, Superman and Batman had appeared nine times between them.
Don't mind us -- she just needs to use the elevator.
Wait! Who are you? SPIDER-MAN: You know who I am.
I do? SPIDER-MAN: Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man! Wahoo! LOEB: Girls were going, moms were going, families were going, people were suddenly going, "Whoa, hang on a second.
This is sexy.
" SPIDER-MAN: You have a knack for getting in trouble.
MJ: You have a knack for saving my life.
I think I have a superhero stalker.
SPIDER-MAN: I was in the neighborhood.
LOEB: Comics suddenly became sexy.
Superhero movies provide a tremendous kind of escape.
They're colorful, they're noisy, they have lots and lots of action, and if they're really good, they have some character as well.
And they're the perfect summer movie.
IRON MAN: Shut it down, Dr.
SNYDER: Iron Man, Avengers, they've done a lot to actually keep superheroes innocent.
They're fantastic films.
They're four-quadrant, summer, family entertainment.
They allow the sort of innocent mythology, which I think is a good thing, to persist.
And the reason that's good is because it keeps comics alive.
ED CATTO: You can enjoy a superhero without ever reading the comic.
You can wear the T-shirt and you can buy the toy and you can collect a particular superhero without necessarily engaging in that narrative where it all began, the comics.
MORRISON: Certainly video games are the most exciting art form currently, and it's the one that will subsume all others within the next ten years, so that's where all the heat is.
There's quite a few people from comics who have made that cross over, because it's still ultimately about stories and about fantasy.
Heads or tails, kitty cat? ANDREA ROMANO: It makes sense to me that this is another way for people to get into that superhero world.
They can be Batman in the game.
They can make him leap across buildings.
They can make him fly the Batwing.
They can choose to be the good guy, then they can be the Joker.
They can play however they want to within the game.
SUPERMAN: We're here to see Lex Luthor.
RECEPTIONIST: And you are? BATMAN: Seriously? STRAIN: You can create your own superhero and play with other people who've created their own superheroes, and make your own story lines.
You can make your own Web comics nowadays and easily publish your own Web comic.
ANNOUNCER: Aclyptico from Pennsylvania.
Wall Creeper from Colorado.
Master Legend from Florida.
Extreme in California.
STRAIN: There are those guys that dress up as superheroes and fight crime in real life nowadays.
Those guys are crazy.
They found the real world way to do it.
Superheroes and comics are no longer just restricted to printed media.
To put it in perspective, you know, when I was doing Spider-Man, we'd be selling 700,000, 800,000, Spawn would sell 900,000 a month, and now if you can sell any book at a clip of a hundred thousand, you can count those on probably one finger -- the entire industry.
Print in comics, like print in magazines, like print in newspapers, is an industry that's hurting.
And I think it will continue to survive, I think there'll always be collectors and boutique shops that will sell print superhero comics, but the things you can do with digital are just mind-blowing, and the way you can use the digital form to tell superhero stories that you can read anywhere, whether you have access to a comic store or not, are just infinite.
WOMAN: What's your favorite? BOY: Wolverine.
McFARLANE: It's just a delivery mechanism.
People keep going, "Is it going to be the ruination of comic books?" It depends on your definition -- here's my definition of comic books -- words and pictures.
Do I believe that words and pictures are going away? Never! They've been there since the scrawlings on the caves in prehistoric times.
The only thing that's changed is the delivery mechanism.
So whether it's now on a computer or pad or it's on paper, what do I care? KAHN: Comic books are at the very heart of the superhero boom.
They really are the blood that pumps, that makes people love the characters in the first place.
I love comics.
I want to read them forever.
But superheroes need them, because they'll fossilize like Dick Tracy or the Phantom.
If you stop publishing superheroes now, all the new ideas that keep them relevant will stop.
They'll be frozen in amber like that mosquito in Jurassic Park.
To keep those rnythologies expanding, to keep those mythologies fresh, you need new voices.
SCHREIBER: For decades, superheroes have appealed to children, but for adults in the 21st century, the impact of these heroes has not diminished.
CHILD: Do you have a favorite superhero? BARACK OBAMA: I do.
I -- Spider-Man and Batman were my two favorite superheroes.
QUESADA: The President had made mention of how he was a huge Spider-Man fan.
And we were like, "Wow, that is like the greatest bit of publicity we could get.
" I mean, it was unsolicited, and he went out there and put our character's name in the press.
We figured, you know what, we need to tip our hat back.
It was saying, "Thanks for the plug, Mr.
President, and you know, here's one for you.
You're a Spider-Man fan -- here you go, you and Spidey have a little adventure.
" MILLER: When the President of the United States, you know, embraces a superhero, embraces comic books, it means, it could not possibly be more official that comic books have moved from a niche to the mainstream.
You are officially mainstream if the President of the United States gives you a shout out.
The end.
WOLFMAN: I always say we won.
All of us who had been told that what we did was for kids and what we enjoyed was silly, that we were geeks or dorks or whatever else, well, it turns out the whole world actually is, but it took them a while to admit it.
Captain America, here I am, right here.
American hero.
We used to make fun of it.
Even 10, 15 short years ago, it was, you wouldn't walk around with a shirt with the Captain America shield symbol on your chest, and now people are coming and giving dissertations with that shirt on.
Our type of fantasy is now everywhere, which means if you like superheroes, you can find it in the movies.
And the movies are the biggest movies that are out there.
WOMAN: What's the "S" stand for? It's not an On my world, it means "hope.
" SCHREIBER: In the Great Depression, the creators of Superman could never have imagined the impact that their character would have on the world.
Not only are superheroes everywhere, but their heroic qualities have become more meaningful than ever.
WAID: Everyone knows these characters, from Timbuktu to Taiwan.
And I think what they know about them at heart is that the power of superheroes is doing the right thing for the right reason and being willing to put yourself on the line to help other people.
STRACYZSKI: As I watched the Arab Spring unfolding, I kept seeing in the crowd a guy or two wearing Superman T-shirts.
Where there is struggle, where there is turmoil, there is somebody wearing a Superman T-shirt.
I think that symbol is one of hope.
Whether it is somebody, you know, fighting for rights in another country or someone was persecuted, when they put that T-shirt on, that symbol on, they feel invulnerable.
They feel they can fly.
SCHREIBER: Superheroes have been a part of our culture for 75 years, but they seem to have always been around, looking out for us on high.
They are the better angels of our nature.
I never cared who you were.
And you were right.
Shouldn't the people know the hero who saved them? BATMAN: A hero can be anyone.
Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders to let him know that the world hadn't ended.
Bruce Wayne.
ADAM WEST: We want to be better.
We want to be stronger.
We want to be more heroic.
Damn it, we want to know that what we do counts.
WAID: Superheroes have always flourished in times of the greatest American adversity.
In the Depression era, we were afraid of whether or not we'd be able to put food on the table.
We were afraid of being involved in a great world war that would take our freedom away.
In the atomic age, we were afraid of radiation.
Today, we're afraid of terrorist attacks.
And in all those eras of history, that's when superheroes have enjoyed their greatest resurgence.
MORRISON: We love superheroes because they don't give up on us.
We made something that can't be defeated, which I think is really, you know, as you said, it's a profound idea.
They're our mythology.
They're our heroes.
We need ideals to look up to, and, you know, they're not going to let us down.
Superman's not going to let us down.
Superman's always going to be there.