REPULSER: The Iron Man Course (Superhero Studies 001)

Continuing in the tradition of the last post I did, I’m coming up with a series of syllabi about comics studies. (And you’re allowed to prefer ‘syllabuses,’ fyi, even though I don’t.)

The argument for this class–the first of three or four “Superhero Syllabus” courses I hope to do–goes something like this: Superheroes occupy a unique place in American popular culture. To understand what the term “superhero” means or what a “superhero” story can contain, a range of associated texts and perspectives are needed, including economics, comparative mythology, literary theory, narrative theory, art history, creative writing, comic texts, and more. 

First up is the Golden Avenger–Old Shellhead himself–Marvel Comics’ Iron Man.


Part I. In the Cave

Week 1–Marvel Masterworks Iron Man V1

  • “Hephaestus” from Mytholgy, Edith Hamilton
  • “The Parable of the Cave” from The Republic, Plato
  • Nerdist/”Stan Lee” + “Stan Lee Returns” (episodes)
  • The Secret History of Marvel Comics/”Prologue” + “Part I,” Sean Howe

Week 2–Iron Man Season 1 Original Graphic Novel

  • Hostage, Guy Delisle
  • “The Star in Cell 17,”  Steve Garabino
  • “The Ride of His Life,” Rich Cohen

Week 3–Iron Man: Extremis

  • “Foundation,” China Mieville
  • “I’m Warren Ellis and This Is How I Work,” Warren Ellis
  • Excerpts from Orbital Operations

Week 4–Iron Man (2008)

  • 2008 foreign policy speech by (then) Sen. Barack Obama
  • 2008 foreign policy speech by Sen. John McCain
  • Third Presidential debate 2008 election/Topic: Foreign policy

Week 5–Supplementary materials from Iron Man (2008)

  • “Part 1” from Handbook for the Actor, Mellisa Bruder and Lee Michael Cohen
  • Less Than Zero, Marek Kanievska
  • The Judge, David Dobkin

Part II. The Machine That Will Save Us

Week 6–Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle

  • “Icarus,” “Daedelus,” “Theseus” from Mythology, Edith Hamilton
  • Avengers Assemble/”David Michelinie Part 1″ + “Part 2” (episodes)
  • The Secret History of Marvel Comics/”Part II” + “Part III,” Sean Howe

Week 7–Iron Man: Iron Monger

  • “Thug,” Gail Simone
  • “Gasoline,” ???

Week 8–Iron Man: Stark Wars

  • Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo
  • Robocop, Paul Verhoeven

Week 9–Iron Man 2 (2010)

  • “Keeping His Cool,” Margy Rochin
  • WTF/”Jon Favreau” (episode)
  • Chef, Jon Favreau
  • Swingers, Doug Liman

Part III. Out of the Labyrinth, Up Into the Sky

Week 10–Invincible Iron Man #1-20

  • Bullitt, Peter yates
  • Three Days of the Condor, Sydney Pollack
  • The Secret History of Marvel Comics/”Part IV” + “Part V,” Sean Howe

Week 11–Invincible Iron Man #21=33; Annual #1; #500-509

  • Inception, Christopher Nolan
  • Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Brad Bird

Week 12–Invincible Iron Man #510-527

  • Fargo, Coen Brothers
  • A Serious Man, Coen Brothers
  • Channel 33/”The Coen Brothers with Matt Fraction” (episode)
  • “Erstwhile in Fargo” by Matt Fraction

Week 13–Iron Man 3 (2013)

  • Iron Man 2 supplementary materials
  • Iron Man 3 supplementary materials
  • “Prologue” + “Chapter 1” from Blockbusters by Anita Elberse

Weeks 14-15

  • Summaries
  • Lingering questions
  • Takeaways
  • Next steps
  • Notes and bibliography
  • Pizza party