'Avengers' Star Tom Hiddleston Writes Passionate Defense of Superhero Films

The actor, who stars as Loki in the "Thor" films as well as the upcoming ensemble picture, writes for The Guardian that the genre offers compelling stories and should not be overlooked.
Paramount Pictures

As Marvel's Avengers took its bow in London on Thursday, the film's villain was busy not just reaching out to the mainstream audience, but his peers in the fine arts as well.

Tom Hiddleston on Friday published an editorial in London's Guardian newspaper urging critical acceptance of superhero films, noting that the best of the genre have featured a whole cadre of award-winning actors and touch upon the same sorts of issues that are found in both classic plays and our modern culture. 

"Superhero films offer a shared, faithless, modern mythology, through which these truths can be explored," Hiddleston writes. "In our increasingly secular society, with so many disparate gods and different faiths, superhero films present a unique canvas upon which our shared hopes, dreams and apocalyptic nightmares can be projected and played out.

"Ancient societies had anthropomorphic gods: a huge pantheon expanding into centuries of dynastic drama; fathers and sons, martyred heroes, star-crossed lovers, the deaths of kings – stories that taught us of the danger of hubris and the primacy of humility. It's the everyday stuff of every man's life, and we love it," the star continued.

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Hiddleston is well acquainted with highbrow drama. He has starred with Rachel Weisz in the big screen adaptation of the hit play The Deep Blue Sea, and is due to star in a series of BBC TV adaptations of Shakespeare's Henry IV and V.

Then there are the massive visual accomplishments of the genre's pictures, which Hiddleston also uses in his case.

"Superhero movies also represent the pinnacle of cinema as 'motion picture.' I'd like to think that the Lumière brothers would thrill at the cat-and-mouse chase through the netherworld streets of Gotham in The Dark Knight, with helicopters tripping on high-tensile wires and falling from the sky, and a huge Joker-driven triple-length truck upending 180 degrees like a Russian acrobat," he writes.

"I hope that they would cheer and delight at the rollercoaster ride through the skies of Manhattan at the end of Avengers Assemble [the film's British title]. These scenes are the result of a creative engine set in motion when the Lumières shot Train en Gare de la Ciotat in 1895," Hiddleston continued, showing an appreciation for film history. "The trains just move a lot faster these days. And not just trains; trucks, bikes, bat-mobiles and men in flying, shining iron suits. The spectacle is part of the fun – part of the art, part of our shared joy."