Emotional Armor: Superheroes like Batman (Christian Bale) function as talismans when our fears are darkest — symbols of good, and of justice, when we wonder whether either exists. Ron Phillips/Warner Bros. Pictures hide caption

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Ron Phillips/Warner Bros. Pictures

Actor Andrew Garfield asks a question from the audience wearing a Spider-Man costume during the Sony panel presentation of The Amazing Spider-Man at Comic Con last Friday. Gregory Bull/AP hide caption

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Gregory Bull/AP

The American Way: A military genetics experiment transforms 98-pound weakling Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) into the iconic red, white and blue crusader. Cap must balance superheroics with his patriotic duty to sell war bonds. Jay Maidment/Paramount Pictures hide caption

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Jay Maidment/Paramount Pictures

Green Man: Fighter pilot turned defender of the universe Hal Jordon (Ryan Reynolds) uses his magic ring to do battle with evil. The ring gives him the ability to conjure any shape he desires, but not, unfortunately, to conjure realistic-sounding dialogue. Warner Brothers hide caption

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Warner Brothers