Selling Marvel’s Cinematic Superheroes Through Militarization



How to Cite

Pardy, B. (2016). Selling Marvel’s Cinematic Superheroes Through Militarization. Stream: Interdisciplinary Journal of Communication, 8(2), 23–35.


The Marvel comics film adaptations have been some of the most successful Hollywood products of the post 9/11 period, bringing formerly obscure cultural texts into the mainstream. Through an analysis of the adaptation process of Marvel Entertainment’s superhero franchise from comics to film, I argue that militarization has been used by Hollywood as a discursive formation with which to transform niche properties into mass market products. I consider the locations of narrative ambiguities in two key comics texts, The Ultimates (2002-2007) and The New Avengers (2005-2012), as well as in the film The Avengers (2011), and demonstrate the significant reorientation towards the military of the film franchise. While Marvel had attempted to produce film adaptations for decades, only under the new “militainment†discursive formation was it finally successful. I argue that superheroes are malleable icons, known largely by the public by their image and perhaps general character traits rather than their narratives. Militainment is introduced through a discourse of realism provided by Marvel Studios as an indicator that the property is not just for children.

Keywords: militarization, popular film, comic books, adaptation