Hosted and narrated by Liev Shreiber, the doc will feature interviews with such icons as: Stan Lee; actors Adam West (TV’s “Batman”) and Lynda Carter (“Wonder Woman”); Geoff Johns (chief creative officer, DC Comics), Jeph Loeb (head of television for Marvel Entertainment); and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon ("The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay").
A new book based on this series titled “Superheroes!: Capes, Cowls, and the Creation of Comic Book Culture” was written by the series’ co-writer Laurence Maslon and filmmaker Michael Kantor. The book became available on October 1 and makes an nice companion piece to the series by not only exploring superheroes in our culture but by including interviews, biographies and over 500 illustrations.
PBS will also release the DVD ($24.99) and Blu-ray ($29.99) version of the documentary on October 15 and is available in the PBS store.
Donald Thoms, Vice President, Programming and Talent Management for PBS, has high praise for the doc, “Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle is one of the most comprehensive surveys of the vibrant comic book industry ever created; it explores cultural histories in an entertaining and educational way — just as PBS viewers have come to expect.”
The doc will air in three one-hour parts. Here are the descriptions from the press release:
PART ONE, 8 PM: “Truth, Justice, and the American Way” (1938-1958)
During the Depression, the popularity of dozens of superhero characters opens the door for a new generation of artists and writers. World War II creates a patriotic fervor for star-spangled adventurers to represent the American spirit at war and on the home front, but in the 1950s, superheroes are caught in the fire of government scrutiny and regulation. When the thrilling “Adventures of Superman” is broadcast on the new medium of television, America’s first and greatest superhero leads the entire comic book industry to renewed strength.
PART TWO, 9 PM: “Great Power, Great Responsibility” (1959-1977)
In the 1960s, a new breed of superhero emerges in the pages of Marvel Comics, inspired by the age of atomic energy and space travel and, in turn, inspiring the pop culture and pop artists of the time. Spider-Man, the Hulk and others are the first to have “problems” with which an adult audience can identify, and contemporary social issues make their way into comic books. Black powerhouses such as the Black Panther and Luke Cage appear on the scene, and the pages of “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” explode with relevant storylines as comic books are forced to confront the reality of an increasingly complex world.
PART THREE, 10 PM “A Hero Can Be Anyone” (1978-Present)
Modern enthusiasm for superheroes has been embraced in all forms of media and by all demographics, beginning with the historic Superman movie featuring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. In 1986, Batman is overhauled as The Dark Knight to reflect the nocturnal underside of his character, and Watchmen bring new sophistication to comic book narratives, illuminating a violent and politicized world. In the burgeoning new millennium, superheroes have taken over popular culture with feature films, television shows and video games complementing a new generation of web-based comics that bring superhero adventures to every corner of the world.
Remember, tune in to PBS on Tuesday, October 15, beginning at 8 p.m. ET.