Maruo-Schröder, Nicole (2018):
"“Justice Has a Bad Side”: Figurations of Law and Justice in 21st-Century Superhero Movies." Envisioning Justice: Mediating the Question of Rights in American Visual Culture. Eds. Böger, Astrid; Maruo-Schröder, Nicole. Special issue of European Journal of American Studies 13.4: 1-23.
Journal Article

Superhero narratives have always been deeply entangled with questions of justice, and their characters, crisis situations, and narrative solutions have changed in close relationship with the socio-historic contexts they responded to. Hence, the article argues, it is fruitful to read current superhero movies as both reflections of and comments on the post-9/11 legal and political landscape characterized by an ongoing state of exception and the resulting suspension of certain laws and civil rights. Analyzing Suicide Squad, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Captain America: Civil War (all released in 2016) in terms of genre, narrative as well as characters and their symbolic implications, the article shows how the films comment in ambiguous, even contradictory ways on the current terrain of justice. Although they are critical of the loss of a democratic conception of justice, in which laws and the ways they are upheld and enforced are subject to independent control instances, the films also emphasize the necessity of suspending laws during crisis situations, thus supporting an ongoing state of exception in the face of contemporary terrorist threats.