How to Be a Superhero by Mark Edlitz
Kirkus Star

How to Be a Superhero

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This superpowered collection of more than 40 original, in-depth interviews explores the role of superheroes in pop culture—as told by the actors who played them.

In his impressive debut, Edlitz interviews actors who have played parts in shaping modern America’s quintessential mythology: the superhero universe. He delves into everything from the Adventures of Superman and Batman TV series of the 1950s and 1960s to the blockbuster movies of today. But this isn’t limited to heroes: interview subjects include noteworthy villains (such as Tom Hiddleston’s Loki), sidekicks (Jack Larson’s Jimmy Olsen), nonsuperheroes (Leonard Nimoy’s Spock), and writers and directors, including comic-book legend Stan Lee and Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man. He also interviews actors who appeared in less successful films, such as a never-released version of The Fantastic Four. Edlitz is clearly a superfan of superhero comics and films, and his lengthy introductions to each interview are packed with enough background info and trivia to please even hard-core fans. Interviews focus on how actors embodied these larger-than-life superheroes—the iconic costumes helped, as did the all-important secret identities—to become, in many cases, permanently identified with the roles. Lou Ferrigno, aka the Incredible Hulk, says, “I was that character all my life,” an idea echoed throughout the book. Edlitz’s insightful questions also explore weightier topics such as religion, mythology, race, and the nature of heroism, and in a battle against repetition, he often tailors questions to his subject. For instance, when talking with superheroines—such as Batgirl (Yvonne Craig) and Supergirl (Helen Slater)—he touches on issues of female role models and sexualized costumes. Edlitz frequently injects humor into his interviews, livening them up and always ending the conversation with a classic question: who’d win in a fight? “Your Batman or George Clooney’s?” he asks Adam West. “I think it depends on the circumstances,” West says. “It probably depends on the kind of battle. If it were to be a battle of charm, of course, Clooney would win.”

All-out victory for fans, though even pop-culture newbs will enjoy the ride.

Pub Date: June 1st, 2015
ISBN: 978-1593937911
Page count: 586pp
Publisher: BearManor Media
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2015


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