In 1978, George Romero released his classic film Dawn of the Dead beginning our cultural fascination with all things zombie. Since then, there have been hundreds of pieces of zombie fiction created spanning every medium—films, books, comics, video games, even zombie themed races. One of the highest rated television shows on cable is The Walking Dead. Max Brook’s seminal book, World War Z is now a multi-million dollar blockbuster movie. In 2011, the CDC named their disaster readiness manual “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse.” Our culture has been bitten and we’re consuming everything related to zombies.
I read World War Z while I was in grad school and I created a high school Social Studies unit plan based on excerpts from the book. The idea for each lesson was to take a story from the book, examine the social commentary, and then apply these lessons to what the student observed in our society—assessing how truthful the commentary seemed to be. Perhaps zombies have grown so popular, because good zombie fiction is rife with social commentary. It reveals something about us that’s scarier than the monsters.
I recently watched Man of Steel, the newest Superman movie, and walked away disappointed. Those of you who know me well know that I prefer Batman over Superman (and Marvel over anything from DC). In the right hands, Superman can be an interesting character at the center of some excellent storytelling. The first two thirds of Man of Steel was an excellent example of this type of storytelling but then something happened during the climax of the entire film that exposed the major flaw with Superman that prevents him from becoming a truly compelling character.
Note: Major spoilers follow, ye be warned