This study analyzes the many crucial psychoanalytic motifs present in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. The first section analyzes the many Oedipal triangles present in the narrative, with special emphasis on that which is set up between the alter ego, the
Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality, and the superhero. The paper concludes by making some observations on the importance of a psychoanalytic interpretation, primarily given its utility Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality exploring the changing nature of the superhero genre.
At the very beginning of Spider-Mana teenage Peter Parker Tobey Maguire relates in narrative voice-over that this story is "all about a girl," a girl that he has "loved since before he even liked girls.
From the outset, the audience is given, in very clear terms, the parameters for understanding what will become an enormously fantastic narrative: While there are many features of this film and its sequel, Spider-Man 2which lend themselves to a psychoanalytic interpretation, it is the fixation of Parker on Watson, the first love, which drives the films and, in turn, the following analysis. Watson, who is generally called "MJ" throughout the films, is the axis around which most plots and subplots spin.
While such an operationalization of the female lead may be said to be characteristic of the superhero genre, her presence in these films is of a more crucial nature given the lack of mothers anywhere in the span of two films. The role of mother in the lives of major characters is one either ignored or fulfilled by a
Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality. Each of these characters offers different levels of psychoanalytic complexity, and none more than the hero himself.
Writers of superhero texts, finally, are no doubt familiar in various ways with Freudian concepts; that this awareness should be harnessed in the creation of these characters, therefore, is not surprising.
What is most interesting to me is the degree to which super characters are created in this way by necessity — that is, is it necessary to address these themes because audiences respond to them in specific and largely circumscribed ways? Are the lines that form for these films on opening days in the U. This is a larger question than I might address here, but the analysis of films with regard to psychoanalytic themes is a crucial one in the ongoing literature concerning heroes and villains in American cinema.
That writers are aware of Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality they construct characters, or that characters are not consciously and freely acting agents, is therefore less important to this study than an understanding of these characters and films as coded texts which, taken as a whole, Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality light on our national cinematic discourse, what it values, and what it rejects.
Various periods of upheaval e. Despite the American origins of this character type, however, a discussion of the superhero as Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality device which expresses a broadly psychological in addition to a nationalistic dissonance has maintained itself across diverse paradigmatic and disciplinary boundaries. Perhaps what can be said about the variety one finds in reviewing this literature is that the role of the superhero in cultural texts is one which functions in a particularly multinodal fashion, illustrating conflicts within the social sphere while expressing at the same time eminently individual and unconscious desires and needs.
Areas of emphasis within the literature addressing superheroes in more psychological terms may be divided into four sub-categories. These areas can be termed as, first, the superhero as a place of wish fulfillment the return to primary narcissism ; second, the "mythic" function of the superhero, both in an American and supra-national context; third, what E. The literature outlined thus concerns the superhero as presented in both the comic book and the film. Much of the richest scholarship on the topic has been conducted in studying the former, while most examples of the latter are simply, in the most literal of terms, re-presentations of earlier print incarnations.
Freud famously relates the activities of the poet — and, by extension, the literary practitioner in general — to the process of daydreaming. The writer, according to Freud, "does the same as the child at play; he [sic] creates a world of phantasy which he takes very seriously; that Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality, he invests it with a great deal of affect, while separating it sharply from reality" Unsatisfied wishes are the driving power phantasies" Daydreaming, like the unconsciously created products of its nighttime counterpart, offers the opportunity for the adult, "ashamed of his phantasies as being childish" ibid.
These "phantasies," according to Freud, exist in the "three periods of our ideation" — the past experience, the current situation, and the future desire The poet, then, is seen by Freud to express desires and wishes in much the same way. His or her work is the reification of a daydream, the creation of a scenario in which a phantasy may derive from and take the form of past events, "current" narrative developments, and repressed wishes. One of the principle wishes Freud identifies in literature is the central presence of the hero.
Although Freud wrote in a historical and cultural context in which the concept of the superhero as we understand it was unavailable, he nonetheless points out the characteristics of "invulnerability," "good," and attraction of the opposite sex as consistent themes within the hero character These are not unfamiliar to us, and may be said to be the groundwork of the classical superhero model.
Behind the construction of the pervasive, central hero character is, for Freud, "His Majesty the Ego, the hero of all daydreams and novels" ibid.
Our identification with the omnipotent hero, in all its manifestations be it super- or
Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality, or somewhere in betweenrests in two places. First, there is the wish for characteristics of invulnerability in ourselves which we understood well as children. Freud reminds us that these wishes such as, for example, the ability to fly or remain invisible are not only endemic to childhood fantasy, but remain with us in our unconscious.
Also embedded in the netherworld of our unconscious is our constant propensity to return to a state of primary narcissism. The hero, again, provides a link for readers of literature to attain, either through the sheer omnipotence or the extreme asceticism often masochistic in Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality of the central character, this oneness with and in the world.
This process is achieved primarily through poetic license since, as Freud points out, "only one person — once again the hero — is described from within; the author dwells in his soul and looks upon the other people from outside" Thus, in identifying with a character of prodigious strength and moral rectitude, we play this role ourselves.
The satisfaction we find in possessing the persona of the superhero can be described in any number of forms. Our narcissism may be satisfied through feelings of power, independence, or physical beauty. In this final sense, the corporeal presence of the superhero becomes crucial. Scott Bukatman points out that. Comics narrate the body in stories and envision the body in drawings. The body is obsessively centered upon. It is contained and delineated; it becomes irresistible force and immovable object…The body takes on animal attributes, merges with plantlife, is melded with metal.
The body is asexual and homosexual, heterosexual and hermaphroditic…the superhero body is everything — a corporealrather than a cognitivemapping of the subject Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality the cultural system And while Bukatman is writing here about the print medium, the same is no less true for representation of cinematic superheroes. Lawrence and Jewett offer that. Getting even is very important with the public.
They go see me on the screen and I just kick the shit out of him. Though generally connected with the work of Carl Jung 2an archetypal approach to the analysis of myth is not unfamiliar to psychoanalysis.
In his Introductory Lectures, Freud understands symbols, which often work in dreams to create distortion and interference for the dreamer, as "not something peculiar to dreamers
Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality to the dream-work through which they come to expression. This same symbolism…is employed by myths and fairy tales, by the people in their sayings and songs, by colloquial linguistic usage and by the poetic imagination.
The field of symbolism is immensely wide, and dream symbolism is only a small part of it This is not to suggest the superhero is solely a symbol though, in most Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality, we might conceive him or her to be at least thatbut that, for Freud as well as for Jung, Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality hero or superhero has a history.
Richard Reynolds offers a "first-stage working definition of the superhero genre" 16which requires, for example, that the hero be portrayed as outside society, more concerned about innate justice that explicit laws, and extraordinary in comparison both with his surroundings and his alter ego e. The two former attributes, offers Christian Pyleare "accepted facets" of a particularly American brand of hero, "as true of Natty Bumppo and Huck Finn as they are of Superman and Batman" 2.
Eco points out that Superman is obliged to perform acts of local and civil significance, since taking up the mantle of "justice" worldwide mean questioning cornerstone American values such as capitalism. Superman is therefore "obliged to continue his activities in the sphere of small and infinitesimal modifications of the immediately visible…each general modifications would draw the world, and Superman with it, toward final consumption" Lawrence and Jewett, meanwhile, offer that the myth of the American superhero is one primarily of deliverance and redemption.
They contend in The American Monomyth that. It encourages passivity on the part of the general public and unwise concentrations of power in ostensible redeemers. It betrays the ideals of democratic responsibility and denies the reliance on human intelligence that is basic to democratic Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality
Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality so we come back "Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality" fantasy.
Revenge, redemption, deliverance resurface in the mythological understandings of superhero character types; yet the undercurrent here is that the fantasy is more societal than individual, Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality collective fantasy of a super-advocate in an increasingly atomized and serialized society. This understanding of the superhero, then, is different in important ways from the fantasy that feeds individual narcissistic tendencies.
It is a social fantasy. In Spider-Man 2Parker makes the decision to cease his activity as a superhero due to its inconvenient schedule and the resultant chaos it causes in his "ordinary" life. Most directly, this decision concerns his feelings for the significant other, Watson, and his desire to be with her without secrecy and restraint, but he also sees himself increasingly reviled and feared by the people he has pledged to serve. This plot device is not uncommon in superhero literature and film history; it might, in fact, be termed essential in the sense that truly omnipotent characters have little to fear but their own inequity or selfishness.
Such confrontations with self are frequent in superhero texts also because of the bifurcated nature of their characters. They most often, as we have seen, live two separate and widely dissimilar lives, the unremarkable and usually socially inept alter ego balancing the prodigious capital of the "super" side.
This ambivalence of mission is, historically, something which has evolved into the superhero ethos. Jeffrey Lang and Patrick Trimble point out that. The new heroes feel ambivalence toward society and their place in it. Not coincidentally, these heroes began to emerge in the early s, an era when many Americans began to entertain serious doubts about the viability of using old methods to solve new, more complex problems.
It was an Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality that promoted self-doubt Implicit in this encroachment of doubts is a graying of the concept of morality.
Bradford Wright offers that "it is difficult to overstate the impact of…early Spider-Man comic books on the subsequent development of the industry" since the "young, flawed, and brooding antihero" became the new archetype, especially in the work produced by Marvel Comics.
Their cinematic counterparts, coming to screen largely after the cynical impression left by the s, have either followed suit or skipped the moral high ground altogether. Where this concerns psychoanalysis is in the very concept of morality itself, since the latter is merely one expression of an ego-driven set of constraints on the Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality. In the halcyon days of Superman and moral rectitude, the villain in the story represented the unconscious.
Such instincts might concern lust for power, greed, monomaniacal tendencies, and, of course, sexual gratification, either in the form of seduction or orgiastic violence. And yet this character must always remain alien lest we imagine ourselves to be omnipotent.
Whether from outer space Supermana mishap of science Spider-Manor the ashes of childhood trauma and the inheritance of great wealth Batmansuperheroes share an originary exceptionalism that allows the spectator to see them as other. The fact that this is generally agreed to be less and less true over time is significant in psychoanalytic terms, since it presents us with a cultural closing of the gap between the conscious and the unconscious.
If heroes as "heroic" in the classical sense are less and
Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality believable, and villains are becoming, in their frailty and proneness to instinct, more so, where does the identification rest?
Is it enough for the villain to lose, as he or Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality ultimately does, or has a shift occurred in our cultural relationship with the unconscious? It is difficult to talk about the genre of superhero comics and films without sensing the presence of Oedipus.
To name only a few, Superman, Spider-Man, and Batman share the following characteristics:.
What is crucial in these admittedly reductionary plot summaries is the triad that is set up between the superhero, the female, and the alter ego. All three characters, at one or more times in their respective mythologies, let down their guard or unmask themselves to the female objects of desire.
It is a metaphorical slaying of the father figure in the triad for the sake of possessing the mother; and yet, this is a perpetually temporary victory. The unconscious, in the form of the perceived moral responsibility of the hero to the society "Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality" has come to protect, represses the Oedipal desire and
Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality the resurfacing of the superhero identity.
Spider-Man pulls his jumpsuit out of the trash and returns to fighting crime, subjecting himself to the asceticism that has come to define the modern superhero. The female lead of the superhero genre, then, becomes the mother figure par excellence. But while they are often the focal point of desire, they often perform other dramatic roles. Wolverine is a fierce and fiercely loyal mutant superhero. .
 Interviewee # 49 was always the same Superhero psychoanalysis and sexuality as that of the participant. Superheroes have a strong influence in our society, and as such we should look at the messages that Sexuality and Superheroes; Sexuality and Appearance. A Psychoanalytic Deconstruction of Perspective in John McGahern's 'The Dark'. Sexuality, from a psychoanalytic point of view, refers to pleasure in the broad sense of the term: sources of pleasure and how human beings act to obtain it.