Nicholas Carnes and Lilly J. Goren

Mar 13, 2023

The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

University Press of Kansas 2022

In The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (UP of Kansas, 2022), Drs. Nicholas Carnes and Lilly J. Goren ask what lessons does Marvel – a “hulking, hegemonic media franchise” teach the public? What might we learn about ourselves and our understanding of the world from this “cinematic juggernaut?”

Popular texts encourage audiences to imagine worlds different from their own. Questioning their current political worlds is at the heart of speculative fiction. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a “cultural leviathan” with numerous interconnected movies, streaming series on Disney+, and an increasingly diverse cast of superheroes. The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings together over 25 scholars with diverse specialties and methodologies to analyze how the MCU narrates, reproduces, mirrors, and impacts political and social ideas. Dr. Carnes and Dr. Goren break the book into three main parts focusing on political origin stories, use and abuse of political power and evolving diversity in the bodies of the heroes, villains, and victims. The contributors interrogate how the MCU engages – and affects – political society using language accessible to MCU fans and providing contributions to research in various subfields of political science. They conclude that “Entertaiment media is itself a site where politically relevant messages are sent and received – pop culture is itself an arena of contemporary politics.”

Nicholas Carnes is Professor of Public Policy and Sociology at Duke University. His publications include The Cash Ceiling: Why Only the Rich Run for Office—And What We Can Do About It (Princeton University Press, 2018) and White-Collar Government: The Hidden Role of Class in Economic Policy Making (University of Chicago Press, 2013).

Lilly J. Goren is a Professor of Political Science and Global Studies at Carroll University and co-host of New Books in Political Science. Her publications include co-editing Mad Men and Politics: Nostalgia and the Remaking of Modern America (Bloomsbury Publishers, 2015) and Women and the White House: Gender, Popular Culture, and Presidential Politics (University Press of Kentucky, 2012).

Daniella Campos was the senior editorial assistant on this podcast.

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