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Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle

7 pm TONIGHT on WILL-TV: Explore the dawn of the comic book genre, the evolution of the characters and their ongoing cultural impact.

Two young boys reading comics, about 1950.

Two young boys reading comics, about 1950.

Join host and narrator Liev Schreiber to explore the dawn of the comic book genre and trace the evolution of the characters and their ongoing cultural impact worldwide. Chart the progression from the first comic books born during the Great Depression to the television debut of Superman in the 1950s, to the emergence of superheroes who reflect changing social mores in the 1960s and 70s, to today’s insatiable enthusiasm for superheroes embraced in all media and by all demographics. Featuring on-camera interviews with Stan Lee, Adam West, Lynda Carter, Michael Chabon and Todd McFarlane.

During the Depression, the popularity of dozens of superhero characters opens the door for a new generation of artists and writers. World War II creates a patriotic fervor for star-spangled adventurers to represent the American spirit at war and on the home front, but in the 1950s, superheroes are caught in the fire of government scrutiny and regulation. When the thrilling “Adventures of Superman” is broadcast on the new medium of television, America’s first and greatest superhero leads the entire comic book industry to renewed strength.

In the 1960s, a new breed of superhero emerges in pages of Marvel Comics, inspired by the age of atomic energy and space travel and, in turn, inspiring the pop culture and pop artists of the time. Spider-Man, the Hulk and others are the first to have “problems” with which an adult audience can identify, and contemporary social issues make their way into comic books. Black powerhouses such as the Black Panther and Luke Cage appear on the scene, and the pages of “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” explode with relevant storylines as comic books are forced to confront the reality of an increasingly complex world.

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