Batman holds a gun to his own head at the edge of an empty swimming pool. Captain and Mrs. America sip mixed drinks under palm fronds. Spiderman naps on the couch. These are our Superheroes, candidly captured in their off hours. But they’re not the Superheroes we’re used to underneath their familiar suits. These Superheroes are aged, white-haired and wrinkled, and somehow completely wrong. The characters we know may die, but although they live for decades they never grow old. Our heroes stay perpetually strong, alluring, and complicated, and always, always young.
Lina Manousogiannaki’s costumed heretics of “Superheroes Gone Old” represent more than the inevitability of old age. To her, the aging superheroes they serve as reminders of the damaged Greek political system, one that politicians and people of her parents’ generation have been unwilling or unable to change.
[The series] was conceived as homage to the generation of my parents, the same one as our politicians. They have been pretending to be heroes ever since the collapse of the military junta but time has caught up with them. My heroes are old and they are afraid of everything that they can’t control. … The heroes of another time can no longer save me as they have pretended to do for so many years.
There is anger in Manousogiannaki’s writing that isn’t reflected in her images. These heroes are worn out, slightly absurd, certainly pathetic. And yet, there is the suggestion of pride here, of perseverance. They haven’t divested themselves of their worn finery. They haven’t stopped fighting. In a country with a struggling economy and generational discord, the heroes are stooped and sad. Manousogiannaki’s intent may be to put them aside and lead her own fight, but these archetypical heroes seem to be saying that it will be harder than she thinks.
You might have read countless comics and watched all of the movies, but how often do you see a geriatric superhero? Not much, I’m sure. Arguably, these types of stories are less fun and offer less fantastical possibilities. A lot of stories are action-driven; The less action means potentially less appeal. The paintings of Andreas Englund, however, offer a different perspective. In his series of realistically-rendered oil paintings, Englund highlights mundane, amusing, and the occasional ass-kicking moments by an aging Superhero. We see him eating clementines, watching tv, and choking at a dinner party. And it’s not boring.
Age is the overarching theme in this series. Author Philipp Windmüller’s writes a short essay about Englund’s Superhero and highlights his transition from young to old. He states:
… the character himself needs to face up reality and the aging process. He has to acknowledge to himself that he cannot live up to expectations and that the “perfect life” is nothing more than wishfulness. Englund’s artworks are focused on the maturing process. Even in the old age it is still possible to achieve something valuable although someone’s drive and vigour won’t bluster out explosively. Nevertheless everybody in his advanced age deserves to be recognised and respected for what he has achieved in life.
Recognizing that we live in an ageist society, Windmüller goes to write that we should identify and have empathy for this character:
Every one of us will find himself in the same situation as the “Aging Superhero” anytime soon. Of course, all good things must come to an end but we don’t have to bow to social marginalisation. One day we all will be old and start realise we need to dial it down and stop pushing on harder. In a worldwide society where mostly older people live, we need a survival packet with superpowers in order to make sure that everybody can film his own superhero blockbuster. (Via This is Colossal)
Venice, Italy-based artist/illustrator Jacopo Rosati does these felt collage illustrations that are really cool. Rosati, whose clients include -among others- Wired Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Geico, has a nice sense of color. Each piece really pops and the felt adds a unique texture to his work. The images are so subtle, but they communicate everything they need to through the artist’s clever, economical character design. The superhero piece (above) is especially great. (via)