Cover image for The encyclopedia of superheroes on film and television
The encyclopedia of superheroes on film and television
Muir, John Kenneth, 1969-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., [2004]

Physical Description:
x, 621 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Electronic Access:
Table of contents
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1995.9.S76 M85 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A complete guide to 50 years of superheroes on screen. Each entry includes cast and credits, a format guide, individual episode descriptions, cross references, critical commentaries, as well as notations about arch-villains, gadgets, powers, and headquarters.

Author Notes

John Kenneth Muir is the author of more than a dozen reference books covering science fiction and horror on film and television He lives in Monroe, North Carolina

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

A succinct compilation of 4,000 references to people, places, history, and phenomena, Manser's dictionary elucidates references to the obscure. An attractive page layout introduces the student, teacher, and general reader to such arcana as the link between Danse macabre and the Black Death and between Perils of Pauline and silent movies. Selections come from scripture (Golden calf, Jeremiad); literature (Kafkaesque, Philippic); the arts (It girl, Mona Lisa smile); science (Critical mass, Indian summer); history (Grace Darling, Tiananmen Square); popular locutions (Bunkum, Point man); religion (Born-again, Purgatory); and other sources. Simplified pronunciation employs underscoring of stressed syllables rather than accents (e.g., humfree for Humphrey). Entries conclude with examples of use and identify author, title, and date. Cross-referencing broadens the user's perspective on a range of concepts.  This dictionary builds on Manser's Facts On File Dictionary of Classical and Biblical Allusions (2004). There is some overlap with the earlier work, as there is with the classic Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (17th ed., 2005) and Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (2d ed., 2005). Large collections will want all of them, because each has terms not found in the others. For small collections, The Facts On File Dictionary of Allusions could stand alone.--Snodgrass, Mary Ellen Copyright 2009 Booklist

Library Journal Review

The over-the-top, first-stop-in-pop-culture reference maven, McFarland has unearthed another killer-kryptonite jewel. This bounteous reference cornucopia documents 50-plus years of 71 superheroes in film and television, providing both basic and detailed information for films and episodic listings for television shows. This is genre guru Muir's 11th book for McFarland, and he knows the landscape like Aquaman knows Atlantis. For the scope of his encyclopedia, Muir defines a superhero as "a character of extraordinary capabilities or powers who has a propensity to fight evil in all its forms, whether criminal, terrorist or demonic." This liberal rubric accommodates some interesting choices, which range from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to the Mask, the Swamp Thing, and, wonderfully, the Ambiguously Gay Duo ("They're extremely close in an ambiguous way")-not to mention all the classic icons. Divided into four sections, the text includes a history of film and television superheroes, a conclusion, and numerous fun and quirky appendixes. The bling-bling, of course, is the mondo-hefty Part 2 encyclopedia of shows, each entry of which provides a full origin and history of the superhero, full credits, format, cross references, episode-by-episode descriptions for the television shows, and critical notes. If you can swing it, get two copies, one reference and one circulating; you'll need them both. Rock on, Muir and McFarland! [Look for an interview with Muir about his forthcoming The Unseen Force: The Films of Sam Raimi, in LJ 6/1/04.]-Barry X. Miller, Austin P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-In this arbitrary but riveting survey, Muir sandwiches entries on 71 superheroic individuals or teams from the past 50-plus years of broadcast media between a pithy historical overview and back matter that includes a compendium of plot clich?s and several "Best/Worst" lists. Each main entry opens with a briskly opinionated introduction, then goes on to extensive cast lists, (usually) comments from other critics, and, for nearly all, plot summaries for every episode, released or not. Though the bibliography is barely adequate and the black-and-white publicity stills are disappointingly sparse, the sheer quantity of information, much of it difficult or impossible to find elsewhere, more than compensates for the book's limitations. Where else are readers going to find such depth of detail, not only on such major figures as Superman or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the likes of Captain Nice, Isis, and Saturday Night Live's Ambiguously Gay Duo? That being said, Muir has left major gaps in his discourse: he discounts the influence of The Matrix, slights most children's cartoons, gives women their due but has little to say about race or ethnicity in superherodom, and, perhaps in service to his argument that modern superheroes are a distinctively American phenomenon, passes over Hercules and Xena, heroes derived from folklore or invented in other countries, and anime characters. Still, this is a browser's delight, and a long-overdue update for Jeff Rovin's Encyclopedia of Superheroes (Facts On File, 1985; o.p.); but to keep their pop-culture resources balanced, libraries will also need at least one comprehensive movie guide, and such resources as Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy's The Anime Encyclopedia (Stone Bridge, 2001).-John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Muir (independent scholar) offers 88 encyclopedia entries that survey live-action and animated superheroes on the big and small screens "from 1951 through mid-2008." This marks the explosion of superhero properties since the first edition (2004), with 17 new entries, besides other substantive updates. Muir's core definition of his subject is "a character of extraordinary capabilities or powers who has a propensity to fight evil in all forms," disallowing anthropomorphic or sword-and-sorcery versions, while leaving room for debate (if he has Sheena, why not Tarzan; why Green Hornet but not his granduncle, the Lone Ranger; why Batman but not Zorro?). The superheroes run the gamut from cultural icons (Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman) to the obscure (Mr. Terrific, Automan, Bibleman, whose entry is inexplicably truncated) to the unexpected (Sky High, Bluntman and Chronic, the Ambiguously Gay Duo). Entries include hero histories, personnel listings, and partially cited excerpts of published reviews. Television entries include episode listings and summaries. All are supplemented with Muir's reasonable and approachable commentary. Included are a valuable history of the genre, endnotes, a bibliography, and a number of fun but inconsequential appendixes. Given the enormous popularity of the genre, this treatment is certainly useful. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates, researchers, and general readers. A. Ellis Northern Kentucky University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
"Thank God You're Here!" An Introductionp. 1
Part I A History of Film and Television Superheroesp. 7
Part II The Encyclopedia
The Amazing Spider-Manp. 31
The Ambiguously Gay Duop. 41
Angelp. 42
Aquamanp. 63
Automanp. 64
Batmanp. 71
The Bionic Womanp. 114
Birdman and the Galaxy Triop. 124
Birds of Preyp. 124
Black Scorpionp. 132
Bladep. 144
Blankmanp. 149
Bluntman and Chronicp. 152
Buffy the Vampire Slayerp. 153
Captain Americap. 191
Captain Nicep. 197
Captain Planet and the Planeteersp. 200
Condormanp. 201
The Crowp. 204
Daredevilp. 217
Dark Angelp. 221
Darkmanp. 236
Doctor Strangep. 241
Electra Woman and DynaGirlp. 245
The Fantastic Fourp. 248
The Flashp. 251
The Gemini Manp. 259
Generation Xp. 263
The Greatest American Herop. 265
The Green Hornetp. 277
Green Lanternp. 284
The Incredible Hulkp. 285
The Invincible Iron Manp. 304
Isisp. 304
The Justice League of Americap. 306
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemenp. 312
The Man from Atlantisp. 314
Manimalp. 318
M.A.N.T.I.S.p. 323
Martian Manhunterp. 330
The Maskp. 330
The Meteor Manp. 332
The Mighty Thorp. 335
Misfits of Sciencep. 335
Mr. Terrificp. 339
Mutant Xp. 340
Mystery Menp. 348
Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.p. 351
Nightmanp. 353
Now and Againp. 364
Once a Herop. 373
The Phantomp. 375
Plastic Manp. 379
RoboCopp. 379
The Rocketeerp. 393
The Shadowp. 396
Shazam!p. 399
Sheenap. 402
Silver Surferp. 411
The Six Million Dollar Manp. 412
Spawnp. 431
Steelp. 435
Superboyp. 437
Supergirlp. 464
Supermanp. 468
Swamp Thingp. 524
The Tickp. 532
Unbreakablep. 537
Witchbladep. 541
Wonder Womanp. 550
The X-Menp. 565
Part III Conclusionp. 575
Part IV The Appendices
Appendix A Conventions and Cliches of Superhero Films and Live-Action Televisionp. 577
Appendix B Incarnationsp. 589
Appendix C Memorable Superhero Ad-Linesp. 593
Appendix D The Best, Worst and Most Influential Productionsp. 594
Notesp. 597
Bibliographyp. 603
Indexp. 609