Regenerating Comics in the 21st Century (Panel)


Cultural Studies and Media Studies

Lisa Perdigao (Florida Institute of Technology)

In Ang Lee’s Hulk (2003), David Banner writes the line “Regeneration is Immortality” in his lab notes, identifying the inspiration for his self-transformation and the genesis of The Hulk. This line is suggestive of another transformation: adapting comic book characters with twenty-first century technologies. The 21st century has seen a revivification of comic book characters on big and small screens, offering reflections of “timeless” characters that are newly conceived to reflect their modern worlds.

Where the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), introduced in 2008 and spanning three phases, offers new ways of envisioning transmedia storytelling between film and television screens with the Avengers films, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013- ), Marvel’s Agent Carter (2015), and Daredevil (2015- ), after its release of the Dark Knight trilogy (2005-2012) and Man of Steel (2013), DC’s mark has been on the small screen with the television series Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, Constantine, and iZombie. The MCU is now entering Phase Three, and DC is slated to release Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016. New DC series, including Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, have been ordered for 2015 and 2016 premieres while Marvel has four new series coming to Netflix.

These texts highlight how regeneration is central to the characters’ survival in the 21st century. In Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Captain America, saved by his “protective system of regeneration and healing,” is resuscitated in the twenty-first century as the “first Avenger.” In iZombie, as Liv Moore is revivified as a zombie, the television series comes to life with transitions from comic book panels. In Constantine, the protagonist continually crosses the threshold between the worlds of the living and the dead. These films and television series represent regeneration in their foregrounds, self-consciously reflecting on the process of reanimating their source material.

This panel will explore how comic book characters are regenerated in contemporary narratives, suggesting the possibilities and limitations of digital technologies in contemporary storytelling.



The 21st century has seen the resurrections of numerous comic book characters in film and television. From Captain America’s resuscitation as the “first Avenger” to Liv Moore’s revivification in iZombie, papers are sought that consider how comic book characters are regenerated in contemporary narratives, suggesting the possibilities and limitations of digital technologies in contemporary storytelling.