Superheroes are all the rage nowadays, on large and small screen alike. DC Comics and Marvel have established huge franchises based on legendary characters that started relatively humbly many years ago on the pages of comic books. Now, a new two-part special will delve into the history of many of these heroes in a way that has never been done before on television. The special will be called Superheroes Decoded, and it could be pretty epic.
Superheroes Decoded will be a documentary special for History split into two parts and using a combination of clips from modern superhero films, artwork from vintage comics, historical material, and interviews. The interviews will feature a combination of fans, creators, experts, and stars, including Anthony Mackie (who made his Marvel film debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Marvel directors Anthony and Joe Russo, Game of Thrones mastermind George R.R. Martin, Iron Man director Jon Favreau, DC comic writer and best-selling author Brad Meltzer, and Stan Lee himself.
The first half of the two-part special will cover the origins of the iconic American superheroes and how their legacies have lasted through decades of changing American values, landscapes, and cultures. Part one will cover eras ranging from World War II to Watergate all the way to 9/11. As heroes such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America have come to embody and sometimes defy the country’s most pervasive fears and loftiest goals, they played an invaluable part in the history of American culture today.
The second half of the two-part special will delve into the American rebel and the ways in which comic book heroics often mean breaking big rules. Heroes like Black Panther, Iron Man, Wolverine, and the X-Men have striven over the years to do good even if it means defying convention (and many laws), and their battles often provide parallels and/or contrasts to certain American cultural norms. Many such heroes were not viewed as especially heroic in their early days, and some have had controversy surrounding them from the very beginning.
All things considered, I’d say that Superheroes Decoded sounds like a pretty awesome way to spend a couple of evenings. We don’t often get examinations of comic book culture — including the comics themselves, TV, and movies — that split focus between major heroes from DC and Marvel, and it sounds like History special will cover both quite thoroughly. As somebody who knows far more about Batman and other DC heroes, I’m pretty psyched both to learn more about the characters I already love and about some I’m not too familiar with.
Superheroes Decoded will debut its first part on Sunday, April 30 at 9 p.m. ET, and the second half will air the next night on Monday, May 1 at 9 p.m. ET, both on History. Check out our midseason TV premiere guide and our summer TV premiere schedule for a look at all your other viewing options now and in the coming weeks.