House of Images

Super & Co

The collateral effect of video games has turned us into superheroes, so we're all part of the family, and a few dates show just how contemporary they are with us, and therefore largely posterior to the advertising characters that the Maison de l'Image welcomed with great fanfare in 2009:

1930 These knights of cloak and dagger enter the golden age of comic books.
1938 Superman from the planet Krypton heralds mass immigration.
1940 Superheroes are at the front, superwomen are mobilized in comics, a bit like Russian housewives who keep the arms factories running.
1950 Since the end of the war, Disney's small anthropomorphic world has won over the public, to the detriment of alien wrestlers.
1960 A flood of new recruits. It's an apotheosis of superpowers, with superheroes arriving in tight ranks.
2000 From this date onwards, cinema's special effects are the sounding board for their exponential growth.

But what is a superhero? Wearing tights and looking like an anabolic bodybuilder, the superhero is the only flying primate, albeit one who's good at racing, always faster than his shadow and endowed with supernatural strength. He leads a double life, but his morality is beyond reproach, and he never makes love. He loves to travel, particularly in mythology and legend. Like Tintin, he never ages, although he sometimes has a mom and a dad. He hands out bonus points to honest citizens and hand jobs to the enemies of humanity.

To this end, he has connections with the local police and the CIA. He confronts cosmic dangers with no societal qualms. In economic terms, the superhero is a "franchise" with a strong visual identity and an infallible behavioral bible. But the imagier on display at the Maison de l'image is not an artist's agent, and is rather skeptical of international glories.

Welcome, then, to autistic superheroes, clumsy patriotic vigilantes who walk on their cape. Superheroes with limited superpowers and ill-fitting costumes, like Pieds Nickelés. Welcome to these goofy, lovable anti-heroes and all the others with mild disabilities. It's no coincidence that the main superhero publishers are American. Nor is it coincidental that many of the pastiches are European.