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Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle

Airs Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 12 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," (L to R) Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Kitsch, Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Lynn Collins, 2009.

Join host and narrator Liev Schreiber to explore the dawn of the comic book genre and trace the evolution of the characters and their ongoing cultural impact worldwide. Chart the progression from the first comic books born during the Great Depression to the television debut of Superman in the 1950s, to the emergence of superheroes who reflect changing social mores in the 1960s and 70s, to today’s insatiable enthusiasm for superheroes embraced in all media and by all demographics. SUPERHEROES: A NEVER-ENDING BATTLE features on-camera interviews with Stan Lee, Adam West, Lynda Carter, Michael Chabon and Todd McFarlane.

Image Galleries

View comic book art through the years.

The Making of Superheroes - Exclusive behind-the-scenes photos

"Justice And The American Way (1938-1958)" - airs Sunday, October 20 at 12 p.m. - 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.

"Great Power, Great Responsibility (1959-1977)" airs Sunday, October 20 at 1 p.m. - In the 1960s, a new breed of superhero emerges in 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.

"A Hero Can Be Anyone (1978-Present)" airs Sunday, October 20 at 2 p.m. - Superheroes are enthusiastically 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" brings new sophistication to comic book narratives, illuminating a violent and politicized world.

In the 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.

You can order the DVD, book and more at shoppbs.org!

Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle - Preview

Join host Liev Schreiber to trace the development of comic book heroes and their powerful legacy.

Video

The Business of Superheroes Playlist

Above: Web-exclusive clips from the film SUPERHEROES, featuring extended interviews with Stan Lee, Lynda Carter, and more!

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