College of Communication Master of Arts Theses

Date of Award

Summer 8-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Media and Cinema Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Blair Davis

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Booth


With Marvel Entertainment commanding worldwide audiences and saturating marketplaces with licensed merchandise through complex, multimedia brand awareness campaigns, understanding popular culture in the present moment demands that we trace the company’s rise from a simple comic book publisher to a powerhouse of the film industry. Yet, virtually nothing has been written in academia about the transitional phenomenon of made-for- TV movies adapted from Marvel Comics properties. These texts, although numbering only thirteen to date, dominated the company’s live action, feature-length output in audiovisual media prior to the success of Blade in 1998. In an effort to identify a suitable framework for the study of these neglected texts, this thesis engages with Marvel TV movies in case studies of The Amazing Spider-Man (CBS, 1977), The Incredible Hulk (CBS, 1977) and Dr. Strange (CBS, 1978) in order to evaluate their relative adherence to the conventions of the TV movie as prescribed by scholars, and subsequently highlights the limitations of that model. This analysis results in an exploration of alternative methods for identifying sociopolicital value in Marvel TV movies through case studies of Captain America (CBS, 1979), Generation X (Fox, 1996) and Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Fox, 1998), which stress the ways in which they reflect upon contemporary social issues as cultural artifacts and perpetuate the national mythos.

Included in

Communication Commons