Superheroes or Group of Heroes? The Avengers as Multiple Protagonist Superhero Cinema

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Heroes have often been thought of as singular individuals standing apart from the rest of the world, and the current superheroes
are no exception. Even though their comic book counterparts exist
in complex social networks of supporting characters and related
colorful heroes, cinematic adaptations often “kowtow” to singlehero worship (Burke 2008, 101), isolating the hero from a larger
narrative world and networks of characters. This changed with the
success The Avengers in. This film and series which it was a part of
– The Marvel Cinematic Universe - quickly became a trendsetter
within the larger media landscape. In this article, I present a close
formal analysis of The Avengers and contextualize it within the
larger narrative of the cinematic universe. I argue that the film belongs to the genre of multiple protagonist cinema, yet in a form
that straddles the line between the two usual variations of that
form of cinema. Multiple protagonist cinema is usually either a
form often reserved for non-mainstream, experimental narratives
in one extreme or it is just a slight variation on pre-existing mainstream Hollywood formulas in the other extreme. The Avengers
finds middle ground between these extremes, and manages to do
so with special consideration to the superhero genre.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Book seriesAkademisk kvarter
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020

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