Children’s Heroes:
Fictional Characters or Role Models?


by: Caitlin Clarke, Carolyn Macaulay, Lizzie Balazs, Jay Brown, Will McPherson, Stephanie Lindeman

Introduction and Thesis
In our study of heroes throughout this course we have analyzed in depth the monomyth and characteristics of ancient heroes, anti-heroes, cultural heroes and reluctant heroes, but we have yet to take a look at children’s heroes. The purpose of our Wiki and Prezi is to illustrate the types of people and characters that children view as heroes, why they view them as heroes, what characteristics they believe heroes to have and how these images change as children age. Our study has shown that there is a cyclical trend in whom children view to be heroes, changing as they age, and that media plays a huge role in influencing children. With Superman and parents being the most common answer, we also find that children are alike in the necessary traits they see in heroes. We have also found that there are huge gender and even racial stereotypes emphasized by heroes and villains, which are illustrated below.

What is a hero? Who is your hero?

Questions for Kids:

1. Who is your hero?
2. What makes a hero/ What are some characteristics of a hero?

When children think of the word “hero” they almost always think of “super hero”, and the names of Superman, Batman, Spiderman all come to mind. When you ask them what heroes they look up to and admire, however, they are more likely to mention their parents. What is the reason for this?
Although we tend to think adolescents look to find their own identity nearing the end of middle school and continuing through college, we forget that the idea of “identity” actually begins much earlier. Around age 2 and 3, children learn to understand their sense of self. “I want that”. “I don’t like that”. “That’s mine”. These statements transition kids away from the attachment phases to their parents and allow them to have a sense of identity, but in order to establish their own identity they must look to those around them. The most important influences in a child’s life include parents, teachers and school, peers, and then media. The childhood bubble is limited in its variation, and often times the media (through film and literature) provides the most expansion to a child’s beliefs. When children pick their heroes it may not be that they necessarily want to be those people, but they see characteristics within these heroes that they themselves would like to possess. When you ask children what a hero is they will almost always say, as studies have found, that heroes are caring, that they help people, that they are strong, brave, and may even have powers. Although little boys may not still want to fly as Superman does, they would love to have his strength and charisma in situations. While girls might not actually believe they could be a princess, the life of a young girl with the ability to come out of less fortunate situations to live a life happily ever after is quite appealing. We can consider this as well with people we see in our media. Girls may not wish to be Hilary Clinton, but her presence and power in politics provides a role model image that shows girls they too could be involved, even with different ideologies. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. also provided this image for African Americans. Although not every African American wished to preach the work that MLK did, he was a hero because he showed the greatness that African
Americans could achieve.


Anderson and Cavallaro (2002) conducted a survey of 179 kids, ages 8-13 in the suburbs of Southern California to analyze who these children viewed as heroes. Overall the results were similar to the children that we interviewed. Parents received the greatest praise as heroes with 39% of respondents noting their mom or dad. Almost a quarter of the children noted entertainers or fictional characters from films that they had seen. Of all the respondents, 65% of children saw heroes in those they knew, while 35% said characters or heroes in characters of people they viewed in the media. When considering characteristics that heroes needed to hold in order for the children to view them as heroes, 38% of children said that heroes were “nice, understanding and helpful”. In comparison, 27% of children named characteristics that were skill based; this included athletes, actors, and other performers.

Studies by Anderson and Cavallaro (2002) as well as Giroux (1997), Gerbner (1993) and Signeneli (2001) all found commonalities in children’s heroes and how they transform as they age. For children, the image of a hero actually changes as they age. From the time that they are very young, children focus on those whom they see daily as influences of heroes. This includes parents, teachers, siblings and other children at school. As they grow older, they can no longer be as sheltered and they begin to expand their world through reading different types of literature and watching television and movies. At this point children begin to question the authority of parents and other adults, and they begin to see peers and generational figures in the media as their heroes or role models. Moving in to the age of older teens, children are more likely to choose those who can think for themselves and who embody their own ideals. Think of the “popular kids” in school, and how these personalities are portrayed in media. As children move out of the pre-teen phase and in to adulthood, the cycle of heroes comes full circle and they begin to exhibit a greater appreciation for family heroes by placing more value on those in their lives that worked hard and made great sacrifices. This is similar to our discussion of sacrifices at the end of the course. All heroes must sacrifice, particularly those who often do not chose their path of heroism. But like children, these are the figures we value most as heroes as we age, because we understand the sacrifices that life requires.

Film: Disney Films in Context

Disney films are some of the most common films across all generations of moviegoers. We have all grown up with these films, as have our parents, and though the stories have altered some, particularly in the image they portray of our female characters the stories for the most part have all been adapted by old stories passed through the generations—our favorite bedtime stories. What is interesting about Disney films is that they often follow the same path. The hero with lots of money, from the well-to-do background or at least a perceived well-to-do background, who saves the female who was too weak to get out of her situation on her own. Over time, beginning back during the women’s movement, Disney movies began to alter and present a stronger female image, particularly with their newest films Tangled and The Princess and the Frog, where the typical “hero” is more flawed and the female role is stronger.

In contrast, however, many Disney villains remain stereotyped. Henry Giroux (1997) analyzed several Disney films and found that the villains were commonly stereotyped, while the heroes were not. Take for example Aladdin. Aladdin, the hero, was drawn in light skin, with European features and had no accent. The Villains in Aladdin, however, appear with beards, sinister eyes, large noses, accents, and swords. Another example is Pocahontas, who in real life was a dark Native American girl, but in the Disney film she is portrayed with brown skinned and has a Barbie like, hour glass figure.

Another interesting study about children’s film was Gerbner (1993). In this study, when looking at villains and heroes it was found that bad characters were punished 59% of the time in children’s shows. In comparison, good characters who engage in bad behavior were only punished 18% of the time. This is similar to our discussion of anti-heroes. In our other discussions of heroes, anti-heroes were the characters we struggle with because we see that they are flawed in some way and sometimes choose wrong over good, but we justify their “wrong” or “evil” actions if only because “a little bit of evil, brings about good”.


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A witch named Gothel witnesses a drop of sun fall onto a plant. She visits that plant every year and uses to keep her young. One day, the queen, who is pregnant, and desperately needs medicine. Gothel tries to hide the plant, but soldiers find it and take it to the queen who eats it and is healed. When her baby Rapunzel is born, she has this beautiful radiant gold hair. That same night, Gothel sneaks into the tower and steals Rapunzel.
For the next eighteen years, Rapunzel grows up relatively happily in a hidden tower with no door or ladders, singing and painting her dreams on the inner tower walls. She has never cut her hair and weilds it like a prehensile arm. Gothel visits every day to hold Rapunzel’s hair and have Rapunzel sing a magic song that keeps Gothel young. While Rapunzel seeks Gothel’s love, she knows she will never find it. In addition, Rapunzel is obsessed with these “lights in the sky” that happen every year on her birthday.
Eventually a theif Flynn Rider finds his way up to the tower and the two of them escape and go on many adventures to try and reach the “lights in the sky”. In the end, Rapunzel cuts her hair and Flynn Rider is murdered by Gothel in the process of protecting Rapunzel. As Rapunzel weeps over Ridder, her tears fall onto his skin, magically resurrecting him, and short, brown-mousy haired Rapunzel marries Ridder and returns to her parents where she is made a princess.

This film follows closely along the plot to Rapunzel; however, there is a very interesting twist in the film plot because there are many situations where Rapunzel, our female protagonist, is rescuing the male character, Flynn Rider. This is an interesting character because he is not a prince! In fact, he is a notorious thief with a big heart, but he does not fall madly in love with her at first, which is a strong deviation from any Grimm Brother tale. Clearly, the film producers realize this is the 21st century, and like Bareillis music video, we no longer care for the traditional black and white fairytale characters and have ushered in the gray.

Toy Story

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Summary: Toy Story tells the story of Andy, an young child, that has toys that come to life when he is not around. Woody, a toy cowboy, is Andy's favorite toy and would be considered his hero. In the first Toy Story Andy and his family are moving a week before his birthday, worried about what new toys Andy is going to receive Woody and his friends decided to search through the presents. When the toys can break into the presents they wait until Andy’s birthday to find out that he has received a Buzz Lightyear toy. Since Buzz is the new and improved toy, Buzz quickly replaces Woody as the top toy. During their adventures Woody learns that Buzz doesn’t realize that he is a toy and not an actual person. Buzz looks at all the other toys as a roadblock on his true mission which is to get back to his “home planet” Eventually Buzz realizes that he is just a toy and that in order for him to be able to live with Woody and the rest of the toys he has learn to live with his new pals.

Analysis: Toy story is a great kids movie that is still watched by today’s children even though the movie debuted in 1995. Each of the movies in the Toy Story series teach everyone how they need to love, care, and respect everyone no matter what their differences are.


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A Chinese princess who doesn’t fit in the women's circle and wants to help her country rather than dressing up and acting proper. Mulan is being forced to learn the traditional ways of women in her country. But the problem is her country is at war and needs warriors, so they came to her home and asked her father who was very old and fragile to fight. Being the patriotic person that all Chinese must be he obeyed orders and said he would fight. The night before he was supposed to leave Mulan cut her hair and stole her father’s armor and went to the soldiers’ camp before anyone could stop her. She wanted to save her father and fight in his place but because she was a woman she couldn’t. Therefore she disguised herself as a man and went to training under her father’s name. She trained with the men and fought with the men with help from a dragon and cricket sent by the gods. As she tries to prove herself to her leader and fellow soldiers she grows stronger and stronger (emotionally and physically). She puts her life on the line multiple times for her new friends and fights the enemy. Until they find out she is a woman. She is sent home and has disgraced her family, according to all the ones she fooled. Her leader is mostly upset because Mulan and he became close and he was hurt she lied because he is in love with her. (mulan. Dir.)

Mulan is one of the first female heroes portrayed as a hero on her own. She is brave and risks everything to protect her father and her country. She wanted to fight the war and help but because her country saw women as inadequate she was forced to lie. She disobeyed everyone by acting out on who she really was and what she wanted and in the end was a major contributor to the war being fought. In the end she was able to be herself and receive the acceptance of her family, and of course was able to land the perfect knight in shining armor (whom she didn’t need but wanted).

(Mulan. Dir.)

The song “A girl worth fighting for” emphasizes how men are the knight in shining armor for women; or at least are supposed to be. We see this theme of knight in shining armor in all of the hero movies and books. Men are supposed to save the women and fight in their honor. All of the children said that superman and batman are their heroes. These super heroes all save people and fight for a lady in waiting. Most when asked what characteristics make a hero they said they save people or teach lessons. Well this song is all about saving the women and coming back home to them.

Princess and the Frog

(see fig. 4)
The Princess and the Frog is a story of a girl and a prince who were turned into frogs trying to chase their dreams. The prince was searching for riches and marriage while the girl was searching for a way to get her restaurant her and her father planned together. The prince was in New Orleans looking for a rich girl to marry. His parents cut him off and so to continue his lifestyle he learned he had to marry money so that he had riches again. He and his servant saw a tarot card reader called the Shadow Man. This man tricked them and turned the prince into a frog and the servant into the prince. However the frog prince got loose and found Tianna. The girl, Tianna, was hard working and came from a poor family. She worked two jobs to try and raise money for her restaurant. When the frog prince came along she kissed him with a promise of money for her restaurant and instead of him turning human she turned into a frog as well. Their journey has many twists and turns and they meet many friends on the way. Tianna worked hard to get what she wanted while the prince let things fall into his lap; until Tianna made him work. Through their journey of saving the prince from danger and trying to get home they both learned lessons from each other and fell in love. An old, blind woman who was a good version of the Shadow Man told them they needed to know what they needed not what they wanted, only then would they turn human again. They failed at turning human after trying many things, so they married as frogs. When they finally kissed at the wedding sparks flew and they were human again! They got married as humans and started Tianna's dream restaurant in New Orleans. (Princess and)

This is the only Disney princess movie that the "Princess" doesn’t come from royalty and works her way up rather than having a man get her there. She is her own hero, or looking at it differently, her father is her hero. There is no "fairy godmother" that saves her life and gives her the means to find a man. She works her jobs and doesn’t need a knight in shining armor. This movie empowers young girls to work hard toward your dreams and don’t slack off. It teaches them that hard work pays off and you can’t expect someone else to do everything for you because one day, that person can take it all away and leave you with nothing (the prince and his family money).


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A story of an unlikely pair and their journey home. In a land of fairytales a Prince wants to be king. So he rallies up the most ferocious fighter, which happens to be an ogre named Shrek, to go and rescue the princess in the castle guarded by a dragon. Shrek goes only because he is promise peace and quiet on his land. Donkey goes with him even though Shrek doesn’t want him and they battle the dragon and save the princess together. However, the princess is mad because her handsome knight in shining armor is supposed to rescue her and marry her and instead she gets an ugly Ogre who is bringing her to a king to marry (not her fairytale story). On their journey they have many setbacks but by the end Shrek and Pheona (the princess) secretly fall in love with each other. The only one who knows each other’s secret is Donkey. Donkey also finds out that Pheona turns into an Ogre every night when the sun sets; the princes must marry her one true love and be kissed by him for this awful curse to be broken. This is why once they finally get to the castle she ignores her feelings for Shrek the Ogre and goes and marries the king, thinking it’s her one true love. She is wrong and is miserable and is forced into marriage with this little annoying man. But Shrek saves her with the help of Donkey and the dragon. When Shrek and Pheona finally kiss she is saddened because she isn’t changed back to her princess self. But when Shrek tells her he loves her no matter what and thinks she is beautiful as an ogre she doesn’t care anymore. They are married and live happily ever after in the swamp.

This starts out as the typical princess movie; damsel in distress needs to be saved by a prince and whisked away on his hors to be married and happy. It of course has the curse aspect to throw the crowd off. But by the end it becomes more and more like the twisted princess story like Princess and the Frog. The princess ends up being strong and independent and doesn’t actually need a man to save her. She thinks that a fairytale life will save her and make her happy but all she needed was to be herself and find love, not money or looks, to be happy. In the end it isn’t about beauty on the outside and it isn’t about having money or possession; it’s about standing up for yourself and being happy in your own skin. Also finding someone who likes you for you not how you look or who you are to others. (Shrek. Dir.)

The Grimm Brothers' Fairytales

I. Little Red Riding Hood

There was a sweet little girl who was very well liked by the community. Her grandmother loved her very much and sewed a red cap for her, knowing it would accentuate her natural beauty. One day, her grandmother got sick, so her mother gave her explicit instructions to follow in order to cure her grandmother. These instructions involved staying on the gravel path to get to her house, enter and say "good morning" and don't peer into the corners first. Little Red Cap starts walking on the trail and encounters a wolf. She is unfamiliar with such creatures and is thus unaware of his danger. The wolf entices her to leave the path to pick flowers for her grandma; meanwhile, he runs to the grandma's house and "eats her up". When Little Red Cap approaches grandmother's house, she looks around and sees the door is open. She walks in, says "Good Morning" and then begins to notice something is strange about her grandmother. Turns out, it is the wolf wearing her grandmother's clothing, and he eats her up. Afterwards, he falls asleep and snores very loudly, drawing the attention of a huntsman. The huntsman arrives and goes to shoot the wolf (he's been looking to kill him for a while) but it occurs to him the grandma could be in there, so he cuts open the wolfs belly, and out pops Little Red Cap and the grandmother. Little Red Cap fetches some stones and puts them in the belly of the wolf. When he awakes, he tries to move and falls because the stones are so heavy and dies. Little Red Cap vows never to disobey her mother again.

Charming little Red Cap is supposed to represent all of the young children reading this story. It's purpose is to illustrate the negative repercussions of not listening to your parent. The story has to be tricky to convey this because the Grimm Brothers use the fear of death to instill obedience, but they have to keep the concept of death on a very superficial level in order to keep this at a child-like caliber. The message is very black and white, which parallels the thought process of young children.

II. Rapunzel

There was a man and a woman who really wanted, but could not conceive a child. This couple lived in front of a garden belonging to a sorceress. The woman every day would look into the garden and stare at the sorceress's Rapunzels (evidently it's a plant). She became so obbsessed, she told her husband that she would die if she did not eat them. Stricken with panic, the husband climbed into the garden, grabbed some Rapunzels and brought them back for his wife. She at them, and in doing so only magnified her desire for them. The next day she again told him she would die if she did not eat them, so he climbed back into the garden to retrieve more, only to find the sorceresses angrily staring up at him. He quickly told her the reason why he was stealing from her and the sorceresses's reply was a deal: he can take the Repunzels, but when his wife has a baby, she will take the child. The man agreed. So later, the woman birthed a child, whom she named Rapunzel. Immediately, the sorceress came and took her away. This child grew into the prettiest girl all throughout the land, and the sorceress wanted to hide her from the world. Consequently, she put her in a tower that had no doors or ladders, just a window at the top with a hook that Rapunzel threw her hair on to use as a pulley.

One day, the prince of the land was strolling through the forest and heard Rapunzel singing; he was so smitten by her beautiful voice he decided he must see her. So he camped out for a night and day. The following day he witnessed the sorceress call to Rapunzel: "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair" to enter the tower. That night, he approached her tower and called "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair", and she did. Initially she was startled, but before long her and the prince became very amicable He purposed and she accepted. As a plan to get Rapunzel out of the tower, he would bring her silk each visit and she would sew a ladder. Everything was going well until Rapunzel asked the Sorceress why she was easier to pull up than the man. The Sorceress was furious and cut off Rapunzel's hair and exiled her to the forest where she wept and suffered. The prince arrived that night, climbed the cut hair, and encountered the furious Sorceress who declared he would never see Rapunzel again. Overcome by grief, he threw himself from the tower. He survived the fall, but landed in a bush of thorns that gouged his eyes, making him blind. He wandered the forest miserably for several years, until he found Rapunzel, with twins. She was so happy to see him she cried and her tears fell into his eyes, healing them. They returned to the city and lived happily ever after.

Again, this is very black-and-white: suffer and pain, love and a happily ever after. The message almost seems to evoke the disobey and bad things will happen to you theme, but that is not correct because the reader knows the sorceress is a bad person. Therefore, in fairy-tale land, that is not congruous; the good character always ends up happy in the end. The real message could be more along the lines of true love always prevails, despite pain and suffering.

III. Cinderella


This story is about an unhappy, beautiful girl. Her real mother is deceased and her father remarried to a woman who had two children and only loved them. She gave them everything and nothing to this unhappy little girl. They called her Cinderella because she sat next to the cinders in the fireplace at night talking to a cat. One day, lovely dresses arrived for a ball that Cinderella knew she could not attend because of her evil step mother. She sighed, and as she finished sighing, a fairy appeared and claimed to her her sighs of exasperation. The fairy flicked its wand and she was clothed in a beautiful ball gown. Then it made a carriage from pumpkins and horses and a carriage driver from seven mice, with the warning all of this expires at midnight.

When Cinderella appeared at the ball, all were speechless from her beauty - especially the prince. They danced all night, but when midnight struck, Cinderella fled, leaving behind her slipper. Nearly mad by his love for Cinderella, the prince decided to make every girl try on the shoe until the right foot fit. Accordingly, when he asked Cinderella to try it on, it did fit; however, the step mother began to protest. Out popped the fairy, swished it wand and she appeared in a lovely dress again. The prince then asked her to accept his engagement ring and they lived happily ever after.

This story has a quality of karma: be a good, kind person, and in the end you will get everything you want. Cinderella was beautiful and a good girl, and in the end a prince loved her and they become married. Also, the step mother was mean and casted away Cinderella and all of her dreams died in the end. Cinderella depicts how the proper lady was supposed to act and what would be given to her in return. The fairy godmother was the one who saved her and gave her everything she needed to live happily ever after, however the book depicts the prince as her knight in shining armor. It just shows how in the time these stories were made men were the heroes. The fairy godmother was magical and saved her but the “knight in shining armor” is always heroic

IV.Snow White

There was a young beautiful happy girl, named Snow White, living with her father and step mother, who was also beautiful. The step mother knew she was beautiful because her magic mirror told her every day that she was the most beautiful in the land; however, one day, the mirror told her the Snow White was the most beautiful in all the land. Outraged, the step mother told a greedy servant that she would pay him to take Snow White into the forest and kill her. He did as he was told; however, at the last minute he could not kill her, so he left her there in the forest. Snow White sat all day expecting he would return, when he did not she became very frightened by the sounds and eyes of the forest and fell in to a fitful sleep. In the morning, birds were chirping and she felt much better. She followed a path that led to a very tiny house. She went inside and saw a table for seven, so she decided to cook and clean for these little people in a gesture to get them to like her. When the seven dwarfs returned from the mines, they found her alseep in one of their beds upstairs. She told them what happened to her and they told her they would love her and welcomed her to stay.

Then went to the mines the following day but warned her not to open the door to anyone. At this point, the servant brought the heart of a baby deer to the step mother as a replacement for Snow White;s heart. When the step mother asked her magical mirror who was the prettiest throughout the land, it replied Snow White was still the prettiest and she was living with seven dwarfs in a tiny house in the forest. Furious, the step mother disguised herself as a peasant woman, grabbed a basket of apples and poisoned one of them. She knocked on the door after watching the dwarfs leave. Snow White at first was not going to open it, but when the "peasant woman" flattered her by telling her she was a good girl and would give her a free apple, Snow White cracked open the door to take the apple. She bit into it once and immediately fell lifeless to the floor. The stepmother, happy with herself, ran away but tripped over branches and fell into quick sand "where no one could hear her screams". The dwarfes returned, mourned, and put her in a glass tomb and laid rose petals on it every day, until one day a prince rode by and found her. He asked if he could kiss her, when he did, she popped up from what was claimed to be a deep sleep. He proclaimed he loved her and they got married and lived happily ever after.

This again illustrates the message of listen to your authorities or you will die. In addition, there is the black and white kind of karma as well, the step mother dies after killing Snow White. I think it also reinforces the message be a good girl, and you will find a man who is madly in love with you. My reasoning for this is because Snow White is described as happy, beautiful, innocent and she cleaned and cooked for the dwarfs. Then she disobeys her caretakers, dies, but is resurrected by a beautiful prince who loves her even though they have never met before.

Common Themes of Grimm Brother Fairytales That Could Impact a Child's Selection of Heroes:

  1. The most obvious theme is if you are a good person, who will naturally be beautiful. It is a very black or white idea: if you are beautiful on the inside, then you are beautiful on the outside. We see this with all our protagonists. Therefore, more likely or not our heroes will be attractive people.
  2. If you are a good person, and thus accordingly beautiful, a beautiful man will fall in love with you. Note: you do not fall in love with the man; he falls in love with you. Then proposes to you, and you accept and "live happily ever after". This engenders a kind of helplessness in women and young children, an expectation that if they are good, a beautiful man will stumble into their life proclaiming his undying love for her. It is a prearranged, ingrained system for failure of expectations. Thank you, Grimm Brothers. But this also engraves the idea that women are meant to be saved by men. How many of us just love the scene where Spiderman rescues the Mary Jane in the ally?
  3. All stepmothers are evil. Period. I feel so bad for stepmothers in this day and age. Children have been conditioned to hate and fear them from these Grimm Brother stories. I’m not positive how this could affect heroes, just in the sense they will have a crappy family life
  4. Magic is everywhere, and comes to those good beautiful people who need it: fairies, sorceresses, magical mirrors, etc. Also the number seven is incorporated into these stories to reinforce that: seven dwarfs, seven mice, etc. This is deeply embedded in the fibers of heroes- they must have some capability a normal human does not possess
  5. Forgiveness\Love Conquers all: Snow White is raised from the dead\deep sleep by a kiss from a man who loves her, Rapunzel, who was in love with the prince, heals his eyes with her tears and Little Red Cap is saved from the belly of the wolf. So even though there is a common message to always listen to your elders or else you will get into big trouble, there is always a redeeming moment, where you can be forgiven or a start-over chance. 3\4 stories here use love as the medium for this do-over. Usually for heroes, they undergo hardships and there "second chance" is usually them becoming a hero
  6. Only women hold the roles of evil, there are no evil men in these tales. This can establish an inferiority of women in the hero world, because clearly there some of us that are not capable of doing anything good, but thus far men are always in the right. These establishes the precedence that men should be heroes.

Comic Book Heros
external image spiderman-comic-cartoon.jpg
A fiction Marvel Comics hero that first made his
appearance created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko in 1962. His original name in his comics is Peter Parker. His story starts out as an ordinary teenage high school student who is bit by a radio-active spider which gives him spider-like characteristics. He develops the ability to shoot webs from his hands and climb up walls. With his newfound talents, he begins to fight crime and serve justice to the “evil-doers” of his city.
external image famous-cartoon-character-superman.gif


A fictional DC comic’s hero created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster. He first appeared in a comic in 1938. Superman has super strength, is impenetrable, and has the ability to fly but also has a weakness of Kryptonite. His story is a little more complex than most heroes, since some consider him as the pioneer hero for the genre of super heroes. He was born on another planet called Krypton, and as an infant he was shipped to earth where he was found and raised by a farmer and his wife. He is given the name Clark Kent and is raised as a normal child. Throughout his childhood he starts to unfold his destiny when he slowly discovers his powers. He adapts an “S” on his chest and names himself Superman. He uses his super-powers to fight crime in home city of Metropolis.

First appeared in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. Batman is played by Bruce Wayne a multi-millionaire, who wanted to seek revenge on crime after his parents were murdered in front of him. Batman didn’t use any special powers, he used his money to build some of the most expensive armor and weapons known to man that only he had access too.

Iron man is a fictional character who appears in Marvel comics in 1963. Iron Man was born Anthony Edward Stark but was also called Tony. Tony built the Iron Man suit after he was kidnapped and was forced to make a weapon of mass destruction. As an alternative Tony builds the Suit to escape his captivity and later to protect the world.

Connection to MLK

After interviewing several kids ages ranging from 5 to 11, we discovered that many of the older kids chose Martin Luther King as one of their heroes. The interview was shortly after his birthday which they spent the whole week talking about his great deeds and accomplishments. His birthday that week gave the daycare and teachers a lot of time to talk about who Martin Luther King was and what he did. These kids learned that Martin Luther King created opportunities for children today of all colors to grow up and be successful. We noticed how the older kids gave more realistic heroes than the younger kids and also how easily they were all influenced by their recent teachings of MLK. The kids mentioned the “I have a dream” speech and really emphasized on the fact that he let white children and black children go to school together. The term that kids are “sponges” really is displayed with their comments on Martin Luther King in their interview.

“We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, No, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” --- Martin Luther King

Pop-Culture Commentary

Sara Barellis--"Fairytale"

Summary/Analysis: This video is the antithesis of the Grimm Brothers Fairytales; it underscores the impertinence in determining one’s own destiny. Bareilles bashes the happily ever after by singing," “[Cinderella]
She's got a
Crush on the guy at the liquor store
Cause Mr. Charming don't come home anymore”.
There is little thought to whether our feminine protagonists actually live the happily ever after, and here Bareillis claims they do not. Filling the mouth of Sleep Beauty, Bareilles croons, “I'd rather sleep my whole life away than have you keep me from dreaming”. This further adds to the lacking female power in our main characters in the Grimm Brother tales. This main characters never chose the man they want, he comes randomly approaches them, already madly in love with her and they get married. That is not how love works for the majority of the population and that is definitely not what we should be instilling in our children.
Children should look up to heroes who decide their own future and are not dependent on someone to determine it. Finally, Bareilles concludes her revolutionary ballad by singing:
“Once upon a time in a faraway kingdom
Man made up a story said that I should believe him
Go and tell your white knight that he's handsome in hindsight
But I don't want the next best thing”
Which is basically her singing why should we listen to the Grimm Brothers? Just because several men created these stories does not mean they should apply to the entire female kind, nor should this be the prototype for a happily ever after.


Anderson, Kristen, and Donna Cavallaro. "Parents or Pop Culture?: Children's Heroes and Role Models." (2002). Web

Gerbner, G. (1993). Women and minorities on television French, J., & Pena, S. (1991). Children's hero play of the 20th century: Changes resulting from television's influence. Child Study Journal, 21, 79-94.

Giroux, H. A. (1997). Are Disney movies good for your kids? In S. R. Steinberg & J. L. Kincheloe (Eds.), Kinderculture: The corporate construction of childhood (pp. 53-67). Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Fig. 1. Tangled poster. Poster. IMBd. Web. 24 January, 2011.
Fig. 2. Toy Story poster. Poster. IMBd. Web. 24 January, 2011.
Fig. 3. Mulan poster. Poster. IMBd. Web. 24 January, 2011.
Fig. 4. Princess and the Frog poster. Poster. IMBd. Web. 24 January, 2011.
Fig. 5. Shrek poster. Poster. IMBd. Web. 24 January, 2011.

Macaulay, Carolyn. “BHA Kids Hero Interviews – Wiki.” 24 January 2011. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed on 24 January 2011.

Mulan. Dir.Tony Bancroft and Berry Cook. Walt Disney. 1998. Film

Princess and the Frog. Dir. Ron Clements and John Musker. Disney. 2009. Film

Shrek. Dir. Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson. Dream Works. 2001. Film.

Signorielli, N. (2001). Television's gender role images and contribution to stereotyping: Past, present, future. In D. G. Singer & J. L. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of children and the media (pp. 341-358). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Tangled. Dir. Nathan Greno and Byron Howard. Disney. 2010. Film

Toy Story. Dir. John Lasseter. Disney Pixar. 1995. Film.

“Martin Luther King "I have a dream."” 5 September 2006. Online video clip. YouTube. Accessed on 20 January 2011.

Group 1: Heroes through the eyes of children

nice introduction to both group members and their topic – clear thesis * ideas
video of children describing super power – strong, brave, powers, save people
rescue cats in trees, turning invisible, parents – very creative, engaging
younger ages – magical, mystical “two princesses – make me happy”
older ages – more realistic (world-based) heroes
nice solid thesis – as children grow older, their exposure to heroes and ideas about heroes broaden…

Nice integrated research – surveys that asked children who do you admire?
nice stats, but support these with examples from your applications/connections (film and literature) rather than regurgitate the main idea over and over again, provide specific illustrations and support that show these ideas in practice – less research, more examples

For example – 37% of kids say that heroes need to be kind, understanding –(morals, ethics)
Give an example so support this!
27% said heroes need to be physically skilled (athletes, etc.)
Give an example!

Awk transition to discussion of gender roles
Difficulties with film clips (why are these not working in Prezi?)
Not seeing clear connections between HERO connection in Shrek – seems to be more focused on gender ideas – which is OK – but you need to make these connections clearer (Mulan has commonalities with Antigone, for instance)

Is Tiana a cultural hero? Is she a regular person thrust into extraordinary circumstances?
Not understanding the ToyStory connection – AWK

To make comparisons with older films/images, you needed to first establish the old archetype – what did they look like? Why did they get changed?
You’ve drifted off topic it seems – I like that you consider the historical inaccuracies of films/characters like Pocahontas, but you need to make clear connections to your thesis – Disney is suggesting that to be a hero, you have to look a certain way as well as act a certain way?
I like the Grimm discussion, but perhaps this should have come earlier – establish origins before you discuss how these have been transformed (by Disney and others) in modern times
GRIMM stories follow the monomyth – do the modern tales?

I can answer the step-mother question – the reason they are STEP mothers is to establish not only the pity of being “motherless” or orphaned but also so that there is no clear link between the evil of one generation to the next. Snow White can’t be pure if her own mother was a raving bitch… get it? Same with Cinderella, Riding Cap/Hood,…
Nice addition to the prezi but too much summary – we know the stories! Get to the analysis of how these stories work in the greater context of your group’s inquiry
GRIMM stories were not written for children, were they? This is missing piece of your research… transforming oral narratives into children’s stories…
MARVEL comics and the images heroes for children
no notecards – good addition to discussion but was rushed

Heroes as living duel lives? (no discussion on this?)
Superman as father of all male heroes
Spiderman as the teen hero
mystical elements of the old stories given modern touches (radioactive spider) – take your time and make these clear connections

Video games that are based on comic heroes
Batman (also a duel identity – no discussion of this connection?)
Batman has skills and WEALTH instead of magical powers – this is important, as this is a storyline seen in many other comics (most recently Ironman)

I like the MLK addition – perhaps having a clip from a speech instead of summarizing him as a “really good guy” (quite the understate
Graphics (Yay! Used Prezi! I mean ARG!!! )
Some of the prezi bulleted lists (ones with blue background) not as easy to read (text and background competing colors)
Body language – very nice overall

Uh/um – awful lots of these
Also – TOO MUCH – the challenge here is to take the “best bits” of the wiki and put them into a presentation not ALL of the wiki elements… You lose points for cohesion, as this seemed like 6 mini presentations, not one with a common thesis…

Some Class Notes:
Lots of visual aids in the beginning (not enough interest later)
obviously knowledgeable, but we don’t need to know your whole wiki - X3
video of kids was too long – edit or stop it short
everyone seemed interested in everyone else’s part
intro was good but clip went too long
Prezi looked very cool – X9
good body language
The detail of every fairy tale wasn’t necessary – tell us something we don’t know – X5
good thesis/idea
Slow down Steph. Also, you have good insights, but your tone wasn’t always appropriate
Prezi was impressive!
Good presentation, strong energy
The kids were awesome! X7
too much time retelling stories – X4
some people were fidgety when not presenting
a couple people looked bored – that was distracting
Prezi was really cool
good usage of video and prezi

Way too long though – X8
Obviously well –researched
the princess comparison stuck out the most – X2
very casual (some TOO casual) but very engaging and interesting overall
too many themes – not all clearly connected – X5