Genres have been an important categorical strategy for Hollywood entertainments since the dawn of feature lms in the early years of the twentieth century. As lm (and later television) genres emerged and developed they typically carried on the core elements previously established in literature, theatre, and vaudeville. At times the unique creative properties of motion pictures meant that lm genres introduced new components, developed a range of subgenres, or mutated into entirely unique forms in their own right. Hollywood has always diversied its content and produced a wide range of genre fare in an effort to attract as many ticket buying viewers as possible. Still, different moments in American culture have been closely aligned with specic lm genres. In the silent lm era slapstick comedies and melodramas ruled; during the Great Depression escapist musicals were popular; lm noir represented a bleak view of the world informed by the trauma of World War II; the Cold War climate of the 1950s gave rise to science ction horror; the ideology of the Ronald Reagan years were reected in the muscular action movies of the 1980s, and so on. In these early years of the twenty-rst century, superheroes have become the undeniably dominant American lm genre. Live-action superheroes achieved some rare earlier successes on both the big and small screen. In the 1940s several superheroes were brought to life on lm in popular adventure serials including Captain Marvel (1941), The Batman (1943), Captain America (1944) and Superman (1948). On television, programs like The Adventures of Superman (1952-1958), Batman (1966-1968) and The Incredible Hulk (1978-1982) proved popular with viewers at home. But the relatively small-scale success of these early live action portrayals of superheroes was dwarfed by the blockbuster potential of the genre that was exemplied most notably with Richard Donner’s Superman (1978) and Tim Burton’s Batman (1989).