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Parallel reading: Superheroes

Super-héros

On oublie souvent que les vrais premiers super-héros nous viennent de la mythologie. Dans la mythologie grecque ou romaine on trouve beaucoup de personnages qui accomplissent des exploits remarquables : c'est le cas par exemple de certains dieux ou demi-dieux comme Hercule chez les Grecs ou Thor dans la mythologie scandinave (oui, oui le blondinet avec le marteau). Pour une fois, ça ne vient pas des Américains !

Le personnage du "surhomme" apparaît d’abord dans les fameux romans-feuilletons du XIXe siècle. Ces histoires paraissent sous forme d'épisodes de quelques pages dans les journaux. C’est un peu comme lorsqu'on attend le nouvel épisode de Game of Thrones. On trouve aussi des personnages de fiction qui n'ont pas vraiment de pouvoirs surhumains mais qui présentent des capacités exceptionnelles, comme Sherlock Holmes et son intelligence remarquable. Le super-héros au sens où on l'entend aujourd'hui apparait dans les années 1930 dans la bande dessinée américaine – les « comics ».

Superman apparaît en juin 1938 dans le tout premier numéro d'Action Comics (édité par DC Comics). On le considère comme le premier super-héros moderne. Ses super-pouvoirs viennent de son origine extraterrestre : force physique colossale, capacité à voler, rapidité extraordinaire – bref, il est super cool.
Après Superman, de nombreux autres personnages du même genre apparaissent dans les pages des BD: Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman. C’est l’âge d’or des super-héros. Cependant, après la deuxième guerre mondiale, les super-héros disparaissent des écrans et des kiosques à journaux au profit de nouveaux héros populaires, malgré une tentative de Stan Lee, célèbre créateur de super-héros, pour ressusciter le genre en 1953.

DC Comics réanime le genre en 1956 en présentant une nouvelle version de Flash. C’est le point de départ de la période "Silver Age". Superman, Wonder Woman et tous leurs amis sont modernisés pour plaire à des lecteurs avides de nouvelles aventures. Le directeur de Marvel Comics lance au début des années 1960 ses propres histoires de super-héros, dont la plupart sont écrites par Stan Lee. Stan Lee s'associe au dessinateur Jack Kirby (créateur de Captain America) pour lancer en novembre 1961 la série Les Quatre Fantastiques, une équipe de quatre super-héros qui n'ont ni identité secrète, ni costumes (par la suite ils adoptent un uniforme bleu).

En mai 1962 nous voyons Hulk pour la première fois bientôt suivi de Thor et Spiderman. Dans les années 1960 et 1970 de nouveaux super-héros apparaissent comme les X-Men. X-Men deviendra l'une des séries les plus populaires de Marvel Comics. Wolverine, Tornade et les autres sont des mutants qui n'avaient pas prévu de sauver le monde mais qui se sont rassemblés sous le drapeau du professeur Xavier.

Les BD crées par Stan Lee sont surtout destinées aux jeunes lecteurs mais ces nouveaux super-héros sont assez loin du cliché du héros infaillible ; ils ont les mêmes problèmes existentiels que les mortels. De génération en génération, les super-héros s'adaptent aux goûts et aux mentalités de la société. Des personnages noirs apparaissent progressivement dans les comics : La Panthère Noire est le premier véritable super-héros noir.

Encore aujourd’hui, de nombreux comics continuent à être publiés et depuis le début du 21e siècle les super-héros reviennent en force sur nos écrans pour notre grand plaisir. Les héros de nos parents et de notre enfance sont maintenant ceux de nos petits-enfants.

Superheroes

We often forget that the first real superheroes come from mythology. In Greek and Roamn mythology we find many characters who carry out remarkable feats: it’s the case, for example, of some gods or demi-gods like Hercules from the Greeks or Thor from Scandinavian mythology (yes, the blonde guy with the hammer). For once, something doesn’t come from the Americans!

The “super-human” character first appeared in the famous serials of the 19th century. These stories take the form of episodes of a few pages in newspapers. It was a bit like waiting for the next episode of game of Thrones. There were also fictional characters who do not really have superhuman powers but who possess exceptional skills, such as Sherlock Holmes and his remarkable intelligence. The superhero in the sense we understand him or her today appeared in 1930s American comics.

Superman appeared in June 1938 in the very first edition of Action Comics (published by DC Comics). He is considered to be the first modern superhero. His superpowers come from his extra-terrestrial origin: colossal physical strength, the ability to fly, extraordinary speed – in short, he’s really cool!

After Superman numerous other characters of the same type appeared in the pages of comics: batman, Flash, Green lantern, Wonder Woman. This is the golden age of superheroes. However, after the Second World War superheroes disappeared from screens and newspaper stands to be replaced by new popular heroes, despite an attempt by Stan Lee, a famous creator of superheroes, to revive the genre in 1953.

DC Comics brought the genre to life again in 1956 by introducing a new version of Flash. This was the beginning of the “Silver Age” era. Superman, Wonder Woman and all their friends were updated to entertain readers greedy for new adventures. The boss of marvel Comics launched at the start of the 1960s his own superhero stories, most of which were written by Stan Lee. Stan Lee got together with the artist Jack Kirby (creator of Captain America) to launch in November 1961 the series called The Fantastic Four, a team of four superheroes who had neither a secret identity nor costume (they later wore a blue uniform).

In May 1962 we saw Hulk for the first time, soon followed by Thor and Spiderman. In the 1960s and 1970s new superheroes appeared like the X-Men. X-Men would become one of the most popular Marvel Comics series. Wolverine, Tornado and the others were mutants who had not planned to save the world but who assembled under the guidance of Professor Xavier.

The comics created by Stan Lee were particularly aimed at young readers but these new superheroes were quite a long way from the image of the infallible hero; they had the same existential problems as mortals. From generation to generation, superheroes became adapted to society’s tastes and mentalities. Black characters gradually appeared in comics: Black Panther was the first real black superhero.

Today still, numerous comics are still being published and since the start of the 21st century superheroes have made a huge return to our screens for our entertainment. The heroes of our parents and our childhood are now those of our grandchildren.

Read these sentences. Only three of them are true. Which ones?

1.​Les superhéros ont leur origine dans l’histoire américaine.
2.​Hercule était un héros de la mythologie scandinave.
3.​L’arme principale du personnage de Thor est un marteau.
4.​Des « surhommes » ont apparu dans des bandes dessinées du 19e siècle.
5.​Superman a vu le jour dans les années 1940.
6.​Superman est né sur Terre.
7.​Dans les années 60 Stan Lee a écrit la plupart des histoires de super-héros.
8.​Les Quatre Fantastiques portaient tout le temps un uniforme bleu.
9.​Thor a apparu pour la première fois avant Hulk.
10.​Spiderman a fait son apparition après Hulk.
11.​On n’a jamais vu un superhéros noir.
12.​Au 21e siècle il est rare de voir des superhéros sur nos écrans.
Complete these sentences using a word from the box.

personnages secrète toujours force marteau beaucoup
premiers plusieurs genre plaisir transforment pouvoirs

1.​Les _________ super-héros viennent de la mythologie grecque ou romaine.
2.​Stan Lee a écrit __________ d’histoires de super-héros.
3.​Les X-Men sont des mutants avec des __________ remarquables.
4.​Les Quatre Fantastiques n’ont pas d’identité ___________.
5.​Thor porte un _________ très puissant.
6.​Le __________ a été ressuscité dans les années 50 par DC Comics.
7.​Au 19e siècle il y avait des ___________ avec des compétences extraordinaires.
8.​Les X-Men ont sauvé le monde __________ fois.
9.​Les BD continuent d’être publiées pour le plus grand _________ des lecteurs.
10.​Les super-héros ne sont pas __________ infaillibles.
11.​Les super-héros se ___________ selon les goûts de la société.
12.​Superman a une _________ physique colossale.

Teacher’s answers

True sentences are : 3, 7, 10

Gap fill

1.​premiers
2.​beaucoup
3.​pouvoirs
4.​secrète
5.​marteau
6.​genre
7.​personnages
8.​plusieurs
9.​Plaisir
10.​toujours
11.​transforment
12.​force


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