Here is how movies like Power Rangers and Spider-Man: Homecoming enhance both the superhero and coming-of-age genres.

Of the recent slate of Marvel and DC movies and television shows, one aspect they all have in common is that the protagonists are all adults. Obviously, Power Rangers and Spider-Man: Homecoming are not the first teenage-centric superhero movies, but they are the first in some time. Sure, the X-Men movies have some teenage heroes, one of the few highlights of X-Men: Apocalypse. In the previous iterations of Spider-Man, Peter Parker started in high school, but was aged up quickly. The only somewhat recent example would be the Kick-Ass movies.

This trend that Power Rangers and Spider-Man: Homecoming are starting in 2017 is quickly gaining speed. On the movie side, not only will there be plenty of sequels to these two but X-Men: The New Mutants is also coming. On the TV side, Hulu is working on Runaways and Freeform is working on Cloak and Dagger and New Warriors.

Here is a brief overview that shows why this genre hybrid is so interesting in Power Rangers and, speculatively, Spider-Man: Homecoming.

Coming-of-age

Love it, hate it, or ambivalent, high school is a formative time. Superpowers exist for high school protagonists analogously to identity. Superpowers exist as a rite of passage symbolically showing the characters coming into responsibilities. This hyperbolizes the high school experience, making the characters relatable but still fantastical.

Character

Teen movies are able to focus on character development to fill in for sparse premises. Superhero movies often do not leave time to focus on character due to the action packed story. By combining these genres, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Power Rangers have the unique ability to focus on both character and story.

John Hughes

John Hughes movies have definitely been discussed in conversations about both Power Rangers and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Most people would agree that Power Rangers is trying to be The Breakfast Club with superpowers. Meanwhile, early announcements of Spider-Man: Homecoming specifically compared the tone and content to those of Hughes’s movies. Although the Marvel movies in particular usually maintain a significant degree of levity, superhero movies can fall into overwhelming darkness. By bringing in a Hughes-like tone, this forces Spider-Man: Homecoming and Power Rangers to be more balanced.

Messages

Some superhero movies can be problematic because they show heroes who are infallible. These heroes can be paragons of perfection, making it difficult to relate to them. These teen superheroes create heroes who are a little more realistic. The Spider-Man: Homecoming trailers show Spider-Man fighting with Iron Man. This shows that even heroes need help. Similarly, Power Rangers emphasizes the importance of teamwork.

Diversity

Both Power Rangers and Spider-Man: Homecoming are remarkable for their diverse cast. A significant demographic for superhero movies are children and teenagers. Children will be looking to these movies, idolizing these heroes. Representation is important so children can look to the movie and find a character with whom they identify.

Which teen superhero movies do you like?

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