Supervillains: the real Heroes

Posted by & filed under Humanities, Ideas, Mass Media, Social Media, TED.

Luke Leonard

Title: Supervillains: the real Heroes

Before class: I will require them to watch one of these three videos and to begin reading Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. I explain that these videos are You Tube and not professionally done, thought the authors in these videos do have some credibility.

Entrance ticket: In one short paragraph form one video, pick a hero, anti-hero, and supervillain and explain how and why they conform to that category. First this tells me if they watched the videos and it also shows me if they understood the concepts.

Introduction: I will be teaching two special topics classes, one in the Summer and one in the Fall, where I will use this lesson to explain and explore the terms Hero, Superhero, Anti-hero, Villain, Supervillain, Protagonist and Antagonist. The videos will allow a brief understanding of the basic concepts that I can then draw from for class discussion as we define as a class these concepts (thus the answers they give are the definitions, not a definition I impose).

The Summer class I am teaching is on Star Wars, and by defining these terms before the discussion, means the students have a stake in the questions and answers in the class discussion. Also, with the definitions coming from them, the complications that arise when the tags are applied in the obvious ways become apparent: Darth Vader as the villain and Luke Skywalker as the hero. These videos will allow me to do less lecturing and more class interaction.

The Fall class I am teaching is on Supervillains from the Marvel movie franchises, beginning with The Hulk and Iron Man and ending with Guardians of the Galaxy. Unlike other courses I have taught on Superheores, this course inverts that idea and focuses on the Supervillain, not the hero. These videos will be especially useful when analyzing the differences between the hero and Anti-hero: Captain America and the Hulk, and the Supervillains: Loki and Hydra. In a similar fashion to the Summer course, these videos will allow me to far less boring lecturing and more dynamic class interaction.

Interactive Engagement Strategies: Class discussion on the subjects
I define Protagonist and Antagonist in dictionary form so they have that. I have found having that starting point aids in the hero, anti-hero, villain discussion because they don’t get those concepts confused.

Protagonist: actor who plays the first part, literally, first combatant, usually the one the audience identifies with.
Antagonist: one who contends for a prize against the Protagonist, combatant, actor.

Video: I plan on using these two TEDEd videos for class discussion.

After watching this short video, we will have class discussion and define as a class the criteria of “Hero” and “Superhero” we will use in class. The definition we decide on is the definition I will use in my evaluation of their work. This takes about an hour.

We will do the same process for the anti-hero, using the categories we defined as “hero” as compare and contrast with those as anti-hero. Some categories will be consistent between the two, some will be different. It is important to understand why some remain the same and some change. I will use the classes’ definition of anti-hero in the same way.

We will then define “villain” and “Super villain” in the same way we defined “hero” and anti-hero.

I will then use the infographic by putting them in groups of up to 4 students and have them evaluate the characters on the infographic in the terms we defined in class. Then each group will present their ideas to the class and we will discuss the evaluation as a class. In these groups, I encourage them to use technology to discover clips from movies that aids their definition of the characters.





















If the internet goes down, I revert to a pre internet class and continue class discussion without the videos. I try to use illustrations they know from popular media: movies, TV, literature as examples of the archetypes.

Exit Ticket: From their group, each student picks a character and a category he or she didn’t pick and researches the validity of that choice for next class. This exit ticket becomes the entrance ticket for next class.

Teach me/ask me: During the last minute of class, on a half sheet of paper, each student writes down something new they learned or something they want explained in greater detail next class.

Writing Prompt: Three essay exams are 78% of the course grade and the goal the students look to. In an evolutionary process throughout the term, they create the questions that they answer for their essay exams. These exams are take home and I give them two weeks to complete them, so I expect excellent answers and I grade harshly. These exams are the goals these class dissuasion are focused toward so they have the necessary skills, language, concepts, analytical stills, and content with which to answer the questions.


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