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To what extent does 'Unbreakable' conform to the conventions of the superhero film genre?

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To what extent does 'Unbreakable' conform to the conventions of the superhero film genre? Superhero characters and stories first evolved in comic books, for example Superman in Action Comics in 1938. Some became television series' in the 1940s and subsequently films, which more recently have made millions of dollars each in the Box Office and with merchandise. The superhero film genre has several typical conventions; every superhero has a nemesis, such as the Green Goblin for Spiderman. Most have costumes or motifs related to their character and the hero always has some special powers or abilities which make him or her "super". Another common feature is the superhero's weaknesses, often exploited by their enemy. Almost every superhero film involves a battle between good and evil, in which good triumphs and saves the day. The main character tends to have a secret identity; to the world they are one person, such as Clark Kent, but inside they are a superhero, like Superman. The superheroes always have strong morals and fight tirelessly against the forces of evil. Generally, they will try to save as many people as they can from the evil acts of their nemesis. When the film 'Unbreakable', starring Bruce Willis, was released in the year 2000, many of its critics described it as a superhero film. ...read more.


'Unbreakable' seems to fit this convention to a certain extent. It seems probable that if the story was continued, Dunn would definitely have a secret identity, hidden from the entire world except his son Joseph, who believed in him all along. However, where the film stops, Dunn only has the beginnings of a concealed persona. Every superhero in existence has powers that make him "super". Spiderman is able to shoot webs from his wrists from which he can swing. Superman can fly and has X-ray vision. He also often has a weakness, which is exploited by the villain during the film. When Superman is exposed to Kryptonite, a substance from his home planet, he is immobilised and suffers pain. If the exposure is too long, he would die. Dunn's powers are made obvious from the very beginning of the film; he is incredibly strong and resilient. This is demonstrated when he lifts 350 pounds on a weight bench whilst testing this with his son Joseph. He does not get injured and is also not susceptible to illness. Partway through the film, the viewer discovers that he faked an injury in the car crash to end his football career with no questions asked, in order that he could be with his wife Audrey. ...read more.


The film clearly conforms to this convention of the genre; if it were judged simply on this feature there would be no doubt that the film could be classified easily as a superhero film. In addition to this, Dunn's job in security also shows him as heroic. This highlights an underlying natural tendency towards helping and protecting other people. He could just have easily gone into any other career after he left football, so this clearly emphasizes the overall heroism of the character and the way his moral code is portrayed in the film. In conclusion, I believe that 'Unbreakable' can be called a superhero film. It conforms fully to the five conventions I have examined in detail. Although at first glance, it seems a very slow-paced and perhaps unexciting film, with closer scrutiny more subtle characteristics are present, such as the constant referral by Elijah to common comic-book features of villains, many of which he displays. Features such as this add depth to the characters and a touch of realism to the story. Whilst some of the more generic features are missing, such as the brightly coloured and unrealistic costume, or the use of CGI and blue-screens for impressive stunts, the underlying plot and use of characters is that of a superhero film. ?? ?? ?? ?? Claire Watkins Media Coursework ...read more.

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