Interview with Travis Smith Author of Superhero Ethics- Part II

SuperHero ethics image

 

 

Interview with Travis Smith,
Author of Superhero Ethics

 

About the Author:

Travis Smith is the author of Superhero Ethics (Templeton Press). He is an associate professor at Concordia University where he teaches political philosophy. He remembers seeing Superman: The Movie with his dad on the big screen at the age of five. He has been collecting comic books since he bought a copy ofUncanny X-Men #207 in 1986 with his allowance from the racks at Stan’s Variety. For over thirty years, Travis has made a weekly stop at his local comic shop on the day new comics are released to pick up the books on his pull list–from Comic Connection in Hamilton, Ontario, while he attended McMaster University, to the Million Year Picnic in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as he earned his doctorate at Harvard University, to Major Comics in Montreal, Quebec, the city where he now teaches Hobbes, Tocqueville, Plato and Aristotle by day, and fights crime by night.

For more information, please visit www.templetonpress.org/books/superhero- ethics

 

 

 

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What is the overall theme of the book?

It’s ostensibly about superheroes but it’s really about us, in our early twenty-first century moment—the challenges of living in our world today; wondering what kind of people we should aspire to be; and what it means to be responsible, for ourselves and to others.

 

Describe your process of breaking down each character’s moral code of ethics.

I gathered information about each character’s origin, powers, relationships, major stories, successes and failures—rewatching many movies and shows, reading and rereading comic books. Then I tried to discern what was at their core. What kinds of people do they resemble if you don’t take the fanciful elements too literally? What part of the human condition—which temperaments and tendencies, which dilemmas, dreams, and dangers—do they represent? Then I had to pair each one up with another character I saw as essentially speaking to a similar part of the human condition, but in a distinctive enough way so as to avoid overlap and repetition.

 

 

 

Choosing Between Right or Wrong

 

 

What is the significance of hero’s vigilante justice?

Superhero stories reflect our society’s uneasy relationship with violence. We abhor it yet remain fascinated by it. These stories give that impulse a vicarious outlet. But your question reminds me of when I told my wife that I was watching the Rocky movies with our young son and she said, with faux outrage, “you’re watching movies about fighting with him?” I protested, “the fighting is a metaphor!” With a wink, she replied, “a metaphor for what? For fighting?!?” My approach in Superhero Ethics downplays the vigilantism and the violence, fully aware of how ironic it is to use characters best known for participating in violent spectacles as models for more civilized behavior. But I’m also a fan of professional wrestling, and in that genre of simulated combat, each bout should, as they say, “tell a story.”

 

 

Vigilante on the white background, red illustration

 

 

In every chapter I get an impression there’s an inherent need of saving or altering the human condition. Explain.

Superheroes definitely speak to our hopes and fears regarding technological science. Most of my work as a professor of political theory focuses on early modern thought. In a way, you might say that the great early modern philosophers, such as Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes, were trying to be superheroes. They were trying to find ways to abolish suffering—or else make the promise of its abolition seem believable. They took the Biblical idea of saving the world and made it a project for human beings to pursue—with or without God’s help. What’s more comical than that? So, I’m not surprised that the models of heroism found in the modern medium of comic books are representatives of that endeavor.

 

 

“Suffering is one of life’s great teachers.” – Bryant H. McGill

 

 

 

What role does heroism play in our society?

I wouldn’t want to downplay the heroism of the bravest among us. In fact, I think our society tends to pooh-pooh heroics, as if only jerks and dolts try to be heroes and their spiritedness only puts the rest of us in danger. (Thomas Hobbes deserves a lot of credit for instilling this attitude in us.) But for the purposes of this book, I’m more interested in asking whether superheroes model behaviors that we non-heroic types can and should labor to exhibit in our own lives, for our individual and collective well-being.

 

 

 

Hero Concept Pinned Cards and Rust

 

 

 

What do you think of the contrast between Daredevil and the Punisher?

You’re right. That warrants a chapter-length treatment, doesn’t it?

 

Do you have more books planned about Superhero ethics? (Please, don’t make me beg.)

If I could write any book on philosophy and popular culture that I wanted to next, it would be about women’s professional wrestling. I think that’s the most exciting and inspiring thing out there today in sports and entertainment.

 

 

 

 

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Your book touches on a very fundamental and  complicated subject. What is justice? What is the right way to live? Who or what determines what is right or wrong? Where does our sense of ethics come from and why do we seek to emulate it in fictional characters? This book was epic and I loved every bit of it! Definitely would be interested if you wrote more. Perhaps the role of villains? Hint, hint.

 

I can imagine a volume on super-villains. Nobody wants global governance more than they do! And as they say, compelling villains believe they’re the real heroes. I have been thinking a lot lately, for instance, about what the character of Killmonger from Black Panther is intended to communicate about the nature of injustice. Anyway, thank you to The Writing Train for the opportunity to discuss my book. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

 

 

 

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Thanks Travis!

 

 

SuperHero ethics image

 

 

Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.

Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.

How, then, shall we live?

 

    • How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)

 

    • How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)

 

    • What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)

 

    • Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)

 

    • Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

 

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over.

 

Amazon | Goodreads | Templeton Press

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Superhero Ethics by Travis Smith

SuperHero ethics image

 

 

 

Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.

Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.
How, then, shall we live?

  • How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)
  • How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)
  • What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)
  • Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)
  • Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over.

 

Amazon | Goodreads

 

 

Book Review - 3d rendered metallic typeset

 

 

 

This book was exquisitely delicious in every sense of the word. If I could, I’d rate it with 10 stars from start to finish. Impeccable in presentation, brilliant in theme, and praiseworthy in effect. Ten comic book heros, ten ways to save the world, and which one do we need most now? Author Travis Smith analyzes each superhero pitting them metaphorically against one another; extricating their relevant significance to the human condition, society, politics and virtues to emulate. I’d try to say more, but they’d fail to describe the magnificence of this book. Get yourself a copy!

 

 

 

 

Awesome Word Rubber Stamp 3D Rating Review Feedback

 

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Travis Smith received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of political science at Concordia University. He has been collecting comic books since he bought Uncanny X-Men #207 with his allowance in 1986. His writing has appeared in the Weekly Standard and Convivium Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Thor: Ragnarok Will Blow Everyone Away

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLK’S!

 

 

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Why Thor: Ragnarok Will Blow Everyone Away

 

 

 

 

Are you ready for Thor in the next Ragnarok installment? Tell me in the comments!!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

Watch “Marvel’s THE DEFENDERS Trailer (2017)” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY TRAILERS!

 

 

 

 

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Marvel´s THE DEFENDERS Trailer (2017)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you a fan of the Marvel’s DEFENDERS? Tell me in the comments!!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Watch “Finn Jones & Jessica Henwick on Marvel’s Iron Fist” on YouTube

ITS TELEVISION TUESDAY!!

 

 

 

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Interview with Finn Jones & Jessica Henwick from Marvel’s Iron Fist

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you seen Iron Fist yet? Tell me in the comments!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Watch “Black Panther (T’Challa) // The Way” on YouTube

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS!

 

Check out the new trailer for Black Panther.

 

 

 

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What movies are you looking forward to this year? Tell me in the comments!!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Iron Fist Trailer

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY TRAILERS!

Marvel’s IRON FIST 

 

 

 

 

 

television-box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you pumped for the release of IRON FIST? Tell me in the comments!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

Televison Tuesday Trailers: Logan

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS!

 

Logan in theaters March 3rd

 

 

 

 

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Are you a fan of Wolverine? Tell me in the comments!!

 

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.mysterthrillerweek.com

Watch “Guardians of the Galaxy 2 TRAILER (2017 Biggest Blockbuster ?)” on YouTube

SMILE IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY

Have you seen the blockbuster movie trailer for Guardian of the Galaxy 2?

 

 

 

 

television-tuesday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guardians of the Galaxy 2

 

 

Looks awesome doesn’t it? Are you a fan? Tell me in the comments!

 

Don’t miss the inaugural powerhouse event of 2017!!

Check out my other site: Mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Special Edition: Netflix Review of Marvel’s Luke Cage

 

 

 

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I’ve been wanting to post my review of Marvel’s Luke Cage from Netflix for some time now. So here it is!

 

 

MY RATING

 

Five golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

Overall, this wasy a very entertaining, well written and produced series from Marvel and Netflix. They had me hooked from the first few episodes. I used to read Luke Cage, Iron Fist comics when I was kid, many moons ago. Although admittedly, I enjoyed Iron fist more than Cage. That’s why I’m excited they’re releasing Iron Fist on Netflix Friday March 17, 2017!!! But what they did with Luke Cage was absolutely phenomenal. This was a great series. I sad to see it end at 13 episodes.

At first I didn’t really like Mike Colter as Luke Cage, but by the end of the third episode he really grew on me. He comes across as the strong silent type. Like, superhuman strong silent type.

Second, I didn’t really like the first impression of Cage as a bulletproof, invincible powerhouse. Boring. Essentially there was no formidable opponent to match him. Which brings up my next point…

Third, I didn’t really like the first impression of the antagonist, Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. He too, was the strong silent type, but was no match for Cage. They really played into his weaknesses through the first half of the series in several aspects. Again, the antagonist was not formidable enough, seemingly, through the first half of the series. But to give it some credit there were several antagonistic forces. Such as Mariah, Cornell’s corrupt cousin and city politician. Shades who served as a representative of the stronger antagonist, Diamondback. Eventually law enforcement personnel was against him as well.  So there was conflict, but the juiciest conflict is in the second half of the series when Diamondback is revealed. Then the heat is on!

Overall the series was very impressive. Including the first half. I had to let the story play out over the entire series to get the full effect. Below you find some interviews with some of the actors in the series. They really did a spectacular job.

 

 

 

 

 

NETFLIX

MARVEL’S LUKE CAGE

 

According to Imdb.com

 

 

Storyline

Given superstrength and durability by a sabotaged experiment, a wrongly accused man escapes prison to become a superhero for hire.

 

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Plot Keywords:

superhero | based on comic | policeman | police | killSee All (18) »


Taglines:

Sweet Christmas!


Genres:

Action | Crime | Drama | Sci-Fi | Thriller


Certificate:

TV-MA | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Watch “Mike Colter is Luke Cage!” on YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch “Theo Rossi joins Thwip! The Big Marvel Show!” on YouTube

 

 

 

 

Theo Rossi plays the character “Shades” in the series and does a great job. He was one of my favorite bad guys actually. He has a knack for capturing the realism of the comic book character realized in a modern way.

 

 

 

 

 

Watch “Mike Colter and Mahershala Ali – Marvel’s Luke Cage Premiere” on YouTube

 

 

 

 

Hat’s off to Mike Colter for pulling this one off!

 

 

 

Watch “Simone Missick and Frank Whaley – Marvel’s Luke Cage Premiere” on YouTube

 

 

 

Simone Missick does an excellent job playing Misty “detective Knight” in the series.

 

 

 

EPIC

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin’ the train folks!

Come back and see us!

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com