August 23, 2020 in Research
Film and Fantasy


“With great power comes great responsibility.” This saying has been for a long time coined into narratives followed by almost all the superhero films in production today. It is hard to discuss the class of superhero comics and movies without detecting the nearness of Oedipus view. Creating the superhero love stories helps to carry the narrative of patriarchal portrayals of their male characters in the films. To give some examples, Super-man, The Flash, Spider-Man, and Batman share the accompanying attributes. This paper examines the movies to help explain the Oedipus views on superhero films and how the Freud’s assumptions can be used in psychoanalytical contexts of various theatre arts in satisfying fantasy in films.

Oedipus View

As an example of the Oedipus views, the film Spider-Man has the best case scenario. In the initial picture, Parker is sat down by his uncle to discuss adolescence. Parker, in teenager behavior, is negative in his response. His uncle Ben notes that he is indeed not his father, but the comment by Parker are harsh. By affirming the role of his uncle as just his surrogate father, Parker rolls into action the rivalry between same-sex according to Feuds theories.

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Supporting uncle Ben’s part as only a proxy father to him, Parker semantically abolishes the father/son tie. In the realization that uncle Ben has no rights to lecture him, he, quite bleakly, confirms Ben’s suitable role and eliminates him from being a father figure. After the death of his uncle, Peter Parker assumes the care of his aunt May. In Freudian standings, he has attained the insentient longing to obviate the macho figure and keep the mother. When he leaves, and his father becomes killed in his absence, he seems to have accidentally caused the death of his father.

Another example of the Oedipus view is the following. Immediately after Harry Osborn, Parker’s best friend from a university, and Mary Jane (M.J.), another friend of Parker, start a romantic association, the crew – Parker, M.J., aunt May, Norman and Harry Osborns – meet at Parker and Harry’s house for Thanksgiving celebration. Parker and Norman (whose secret identity is the Green Goblin, an enemy of a Spider-Man), just from a fight between their split personalities, both come late, and Parker naively exposes himself to Norman. Stunned by the finding, Norman is aggrieved by the loss of his favorite “son”. Moreover, Norman instructs Harry to end his relations with M.J. calling her a gold-digger. Having disputed feelings toward his dad, Harry is unable to decide and leaves M.J. for his father, making himself unable to tolerate women.

The most explosive triangle to ponder in oedipal way in this film is, however, amid M.J., Parker, and Spider-Man. In the movie, Parker succumbs to the drive of Spider-Man and using the logic that he discards the approaches of M.J. constrains himself to a lifetime of fighting crime as a superhero. However, M.J., who poses as a maternal figure in the triangle, is obsessed with the Spider-Man after he saved her on a couple of occasions.

The Oedipal theme of the cognizant/insentient split portrays Otto Octavius, the Doctor Octopus super-villain notable identity, as a brilliant, ambitious, but unable to advise Parker, playing a truant on the errands linked with the “gift” of astuteness. He speaks of hard work with commitment, but when his experiment fails, he loses check in the hunt for his goal. He decides to rob banks to help fund his purchase of equipment. In such pursuit, he loses his self-morals and become a villain.

Psychoanalytic Explanation of Motif of the Monster

The monster motif in superhero movies requires a psychoanalytical explanation. By introducing a villain in the story, the script succeeds in the construction of conscious/unconscious split that helps in creating the conflict in the film. This is because, in development of a superhero narrative plot, villains play a key role in achieving the conflict in the story as explained by the writer.

The monster motif in combination with the thematic areas highlighted by the Freud’s Oedipal concepts helps in classification of character, their roles and how they contribute to the success of a plot development. It is from the themes that the main plot and subplots of the story can be analyzed depending on how they are portrayed to the audience. However, the monster motif has some disadvantages if not properly analyzed. This can be portrayed in the existence of not well-connected unconscious desires.

Monster motif perpetual screen appearance can be explained by the way the director of film casts the villain in the story and the way the plot’s conflict is developed to cause antagonistic scenarios between the superhero and the villain. This is further supported by the Freud’s thematic representation of Oedipal complex tendencies in the film. How the villain deals with these challenges in the story and how they contribute to his development in the story.

Operation of Fantasy in the Cinema

A condensation, displacements, and secondary revision are figures in visual art like films that have helped in the development of the story’s plot. Just like exact figures, use of dreams, slow-motion effects, and freeze-frame conclusions have helped in enhancing and placing emphasis on various parts of the story to elaborate on the fictitious nature of the story.

The use of slow-motion effects in the superhero film The Flash while the main character runs past moving vehicles at that breakneck speed emphasizes on his ability to cover the distance. Figures such as dreams have been used to bring out the unconscious desires harbored by various characters in various superhero movies. By the help of dreams, the director manages to bring out the entire thematic area of the Oedipus complex evidenced in superhero movies.

Idea of a Primal Fantasy

The segment in the Spider-Man film that embodies an ‘ideal primal fantasy’ is when Parker as a Spider-Man fly to rescue M.J. using his fantasy web strands. The champion, Spider-Man dangles head down, partly-masked in the heavy rain. Nevertheless, M.J.’s feelings towards Parker, more loving than sensual, deepen fervently with the longing for the mother and acquiescence to the drive of the exploitive patriarch, the Spider-Man.

Two Fathers

The existence of two fathers as explained and characterized in the Oedipal complex is for purposes of identification and denial. The two fathers exist in the sense that we tend to find surrogate fathers in situations when the real father is not there. At school, students transfer the respect they have for their parents to their teachers. Another category of people with surrogate father’s parents is the orphans who always turn to a custodian in the model of their father figure.

According to Freud, women entangled in Oedipal triangles always tend to love men they feel resemble their father unconsciously. Such women always aim to fill the longing to be with their father. The existence of “two fathers”, in essence, was brought by that urge to have a father figure in our lives.


The superhero stories have thrived on the Oedipal triangles. These triangles present themselves in the forms of alter ego and unconscious desires like the involvement of a female. Mostly, the female characters in the story play the maternal role in the plot and same sex rivalry. Moreover, the monster motif, as well, helps to indicate the oedipal themes and their exhibition in the story.


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