Exploring the Many Genres Within the Superhero Genre

Mortal, the new film from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and The Autopsy of Jane Doe filmmaker André Øvredal, is out now and tells the story of a young man discovering his own set of abnormal powers. You might even call them superpowers. But is it a superhero film? 

It’s hard to say. There are obvious superhero films out there – all the Marvel movies, for instance – but the presence of a superpowered person can also be a jumping-off point to explore any genre, something Mortal and the following films make clear.

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Rarely is it a good sign when a feature film opens with a dictionary definition, especially when the word being defined is pretty familiar to most viewers. Perhaps the best that can be said about the new Norwegian-American thriller Mortal is that after defining the eponymous word, the film mostly avoids being quite so thuddingly obvious. (Did anyone out there need to be reminded what that word means?) But the disadvantage for a film such as this, attempting to deconstruct the superhero mythos in dark fashion, is that it arrives so late in the superhero craze that it adds nothing to the conversation that films such as Chronicle did nearly a decade ago.

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mortal trailer

Not since Chronicle has a movie made having god-like powers seem so horrifying. Nat Wolff (Death Note) stars in Mortal as Eric, an American backpacker traveling through a sleepy Norwegian town when a mysterious fire leads to his arrest. As police converge on the panicked backpacker, it’s revealed that Eric has somehow been imbued with powers like those of the Norse gods. Watch the Mortal trailer below.

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