Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Chera Kee


Superheroes are increasingly becoming more affiliated with film media than comic books. The amount of revenue generated, the formation of new fans, and the interests of comic publishers’ parent companies all suggest that superhero film adaptations are the medium most associated with the superhero character. Such a monumental shift in the distribution of superheroes—comic books were long the dominant medium of superhero characters—is indicative of ongoing media convergence practices; the success of these contemporary adaptations, from 1998 on, have not only caused the filmic superhero to eclipse the comic one, it has inevitably led to a rewriting of superhero comic book form and narrative canon to capitalize on the films’ cache. Most interestingly, however, is the simultaneous evolution of superhero comic fandom. The aggressive adaptation schedule of superhero stories positions today’s superhero comic fan as one who has to contend with a rapid and radical recalibration of his or her fan object. In light of the superheroes’ multimodal success—that is its success across multiple mediums at the same time but via different plots, stories, and narratives—the superhero fandom has become more diverse and progressive but also increasingly engaging in a form of anti-fan behavior. Lines of fandom are being drawn along lines of medium-specificity—the comic book or the film? While such lines obviously produce certain intrafandom tensions, it also speaks to the expansion of both what a superhero fan is and how they practice their fandom.