University of Baltimore Has a Class Focusing on the Movies of Marvel
Though there have been more than a handful of college classes using Harry Potter as inspiration for university education, the wizarding franchise is on hiatus until the spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them arrives in 2016. Right now Marvel Studios is all the rage, and their movies are crushing the box office, so it only makes sense that the comic book film franchise would be a source of inspiration for a new college course. ScreenCrush has learned of a new class at the University of Baltimore called "Media Genres: Media Marvels" that "will scrutinize the intricately plotted world of Marvel films." More below!
The course begins in the spring of 2015 and will cover the Marvel cinematic universe from the beginning of the sensation in 2008's Iron Man to Guardians of the Galaxy from this year. It sounds like the course will mostly look at how this kind of franchise has impacted the film world and wowed audiences, exceeding expectations, especially with this year's hit sci-fi adventure. The course's instructor, Arnold T. Blumberg, adjunct faculty member in UB’s Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences, says:
"One thing we’ll do is dive into the impact of the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ film, which proved two things: Mainstream movie audiences are not remotely tired of superhero movies; and Marvel Studios can now release a sci-fi adventure that actually features talking trees and raccoons. It’s not that they’re getting away with it—they’ve created a universe in which fans completely accept these developments, and they’re ready for even more."
But beyond the impact on the motion picture industry, there's more to explore from Marvel too:
"This series not only provides action-packed entertainment but also profound statements about the nature of heroism, the great responsibilities that come with wielding great power, our willingness to trade freedom for security, and much more. Every issue facing our world today is encapsulated in deceptively simple morality tales featuring four-color comic book heroes whose histories stretch back to 1939."
And if you think a class on Marvel is just a waste of time, Blumberg explains
"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. 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."
Sounds like this could be a really fun and educational class for those with more than a passing interest in both storytelling and the film industry. The comic books that inspire the films themselves would have even more to say about the evolution of society over decades, especially with regards to historical events like World War II and more. In times of tragedy, we look to superheroes for hope, and comic books have long been a part of pop culture, giving people something to strive for. And maybe if DC Comics' efforts to expand their cinematic universe with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and eventually Justice League, they'll get their own class sometime down the road. Thoughts?