HISTORY® reveals the surprising true beginnings of America’s legendary superhero characters in a new, two-part documentary special, “Superheroes Decoded,” premiering Sunday, April 30 and Monday, May 1 at 9PM ET/PT. The first superheroes emerged in the dark days of the Great Depression and evolved into the blockbuster franchises we know today – their epic origin story is the story of America.
With rare access to top creators at both DC and Marvel, “Superheroes Decoded” uncovers how the rise of the superhero parallels America’s rise as a superpower in the 20th century, evolving through the decades into a uniquely American mythology that has captured audiences across the globe. Using modern film clips, vintage comic artwork, historical archival material, and interviews with dozens of experts, fans and creators such as Captain America: Civil War star, Anthony Mackie; Captain America: Civil War directors, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo; A Game of Thrones author, George R. R. Martin; Iron Man Director, Jon Favreau; former President of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee; and best-selling author and DC comic writer Brad Meltzer; “Superheroes Decoded” tells the story of the modern era through the lens of America’s greatest fictional heroes.
Part one explores the making of the iconic American superhero. From the creation of Superman, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and beyond, these all-American legends have endured through decades of war, triumph and scandal, constantly evolving to reflect the country’s changing values in a tumultuous world. From World War II and Vietnam to Watergate and the tragedy of 9/11, these mythic heroes embody America’s deepest fears and greatest aspirations.
Part two examines the American rebel and how sometimes being a hero means breaking the rules. From the beginning, superheroes like The X-Men, The Hulk, Black Panther, Iron Man, Luke Cage, and Wolverine have challenged authority and fought for outsiders, a battle that reflects the country’s most profound real-world divisions and struggles for justice. From their often controversial origins to recent resurgence in movies of today, these rebels redefine heroism for a new generation.