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The Supervillain Reader$
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Robert Moses Peaslee and Robert G. Weiner

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781496826466

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2020

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496826466.001.0001

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Superheroes, “Moral Economy,” and the “Iron Cage”

Superheroes, “Moral Economy,” and the “Iron Cage”

Morality, Alienation, and the Super-Individual1

(p.12) Chapter 2 Superheroes, “Moral Economy,” and the “Iron Cage”
The Supervillain Reader

Robert Mosespeaslee

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter focuses on the surge of interest in characters that span the gap between the two ethical poles of good and evil, filling the role of the anti-hero or anti-villain, and outlines a brief taxonomy for hermeneutical moral identity. By filtering an Aristotelian conception of morality through the lens of Paul Ricoeur’s philosophical anthropology (with some assistance from J.R.R. Tolkien and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn along the way), I argue that the external actions of a character must be considered in tandem with their internal self-conception in order to properly categorize their moral identity.

Keywords:   Anti-hero, anti-villain, Paul Ricoeur, Aristotle, J.R.R. Tolkien

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