Superhero comics have a long and storied life. No one really took them seriously and treated the medium as a simple childish pastime when they started out. Comics have also been demonized as causing the corruption of youth as well as being treated as art. Still, the medium has endured up to this day. Now, even people who are not geeks are familiar with characters such as Tony Stark and Oliver Queen because of the Iron Man movies and Arrow TV series respectively. But still, it’s nice to know about the storied history comics had to endure.
Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked is a History Channel documentary which tells the past of superhero comics. It details the important historical points of comics, such as the creation of the very first superhero, Superman, and how it was almost never published, how comics almost died when The Seduction of the Innocent proclaimed that comics were destroying the minds of kids, and how comics dealt with the 9/11 tragedy. It also gives an opinion about the future of digital distribution for the medium.
The entire documentary is an entertaining chronicle as it interviews such greats as Stan Lee, creator of pretty much every one of the Avengers, and Frank Miller, who managed to make Batman into the brooding hero he is when he wrote The Dark Knight Returns. It was interesting to see and look at their views, especially since it was these people who were there, creating these memorable moments.
A good majority of the content of the film are going to be known by comic book aficionados, such as the creation of the Comics Code Authority and the origin of Spider-Man. However, there are some things, such as the period when Wonder Woman was stripped of her powers and the effect of Nick Fury had on the comic book industry, that I didn’t know about. So, I did learn something new, which is important when watching a documentary.
If there was one section of Comic Book Superheroes I didn’t like, it would be the part when they were showing that there were some special comics created to inform kids about the dangers of handguns and land mines. It is a good message to broadcast, yes. But I didn’t really consider it a major historical point of the industry as a whole.
Overall, Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked is a good documentary. It takes the topic seriously while being entertaining. Watching Stan Lee detailing his thoughts on how he created the Incredible Hulk was a blast. If you like comics, you should give it a watch. If you have a passing interest in superhero comics, this is also a good watch.
In fact, you can watch the entire thing on YouTube right now!
If you have any comments or other comic book documentaries you’d like to recommend, please put them below!