If your parents ever complained that all of those Spider-Man and X-Men comics would interfere with your school work, show them this: This spring the University of Baltimore will offer a course examining modern culture through the lens of Marvel's films, television series and comic books.
Thought to be the first class of its kind in the United States, "Media Genres: Media Marvels" will not only explore the intricate plotlines, characters and backstories that form the Marvel Cinematic Universe but also try to understand our fixation with superheroes and fictional global threats. Students will also study Joseph Campbell's monomyth of the "hero's journey."
"Every generation has a modern media mythology that serves as a framework for entertaining as well as educating about ethics, morality, issues of race, gender, class, and so on," Arnold T. Blumberg, the Gemstone Publishing veteran who'll be teaching the class, said in a statement. "For the past several years, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings have served in that role for tens of millions. When I was younger, it was the first Star Wars series, which I saw in the theater. For me, that saga—along with many other science fiction stories — provided that essential exploration of the hero journey, the struggle of good vs. evil, in a mainstream pop culture context."
Blumberg contends the six-year-old Marvel Cinematic Universe -- with its perhaps-unprecedented attention to continuity -- will fill that same role.
"We have a generation coming of age with these characters and this completely mapped-out universe," he said. "It could be argued that it's never been done better. But no matter what your age, there is always a fantasy/sci-fi/superhero realm that helps you to explore your place in the world, your identity, and your ideals. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is that realm for this generation."