Campbell Today: Suiting Up Superman

Mythology is infinite in its reach and appeal. So too is the work of Joseph Campbell. Decades after George Lucas used Campbell’s teachings to fine tune and eventually complete his work on the original Star Wars trilogy, filmmakers continue to be inspired by and find guidance through the scholar’s work. Some have demonstrated their appreciation for Campbell by physically placing his most popular book, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, into the background of scenes a la Big Fish, while others have paid their respects by infusing Campbell’s writing into their films – literally.

The Superhero Faces team recently had the opportunity to sit down and discuss Campbell’s impact with none other than the President of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, Bob Walter. The discussion, which took place at Relativity School in Los Angeles, touched upon various topics including his experiences in the theatre, his love of mythology, and what it was like working alongside the legend himself. And of course, it just wouldn’t have been a Superhero Faces conversation if it didn’t include some talk about caped crusaders. While Campbell is primarily known for his analysis and lectures regarding ancient mythology, there are several parallels to the legends of yesteryear and the ones being shaped by creators today. That helps makes his study and discussion of the monomyth pattern just as relevant today as ever before, and his efforts are not going unnoticed.

As far as specific ways in which modern creators have paid homage to Campbell and his contributions, among the most creative was exhibited by Zack Snyder, the director of 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film is one of several that helps set the stage for the Justice League motion picture scheduled to be released in 2017, similar to the way in which films such as Iron Man and Captain America: The First Avenger helped culminate in the blockbuster success, The Avengers, back in 2012. As previously reported by the Business Insider, during the design phase of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Snyder was looking to incorporate some of Campbell’s literature into Superman’s iconic suit. Superhero Faces asked Walter about the very unique licensing of the quote used, as well as the evolution of superhero films over the past few years.

Excerpts from the interview as well as some insight to where Campbell’s work will appear next in the DC cinematic universe can be seen in the video below. Special thanks to Bob Walter, Will Linn, and the Relativity School in Los Angeles for their time and efforts.

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