Glen WeldonGlen Weldon is a regular panelist on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He also reviews books and movies for NPR.org and is a contributor to NPR's pop culture blog Monkey See, where he posts weekly about comics and comics culture.
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
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
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.