Fantastic Characters: Analyzing and Creating Superheroes and Villains

In this lesson, students analyze and discuss familiar superheroes and super-villains to expand their understanding of character types and conventions. Then students consider social issues that confront their everyday reality and respond by incorporating those issues into the creation of their own superheroes or super-villains as well as the settings the superheroes or super-villains operate in. This site is interactive and offers a variety of resources, strategies, and activities. With the suggested discussion of social issues, the lesson could be used in a cross-curricular lesson with social studies.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0501.6.1
Apply appropriate skills and strategies to comprehend informational texts (e.g., pre-reading strategies, comprehension strategies, graphic organizers,...
GLE 0801.8.3
Recognize the conventions of various literary genres.
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • develop an awareness of literary/descriptive devices used in characterization through comparing and contrasting a familiar superhero and super-villain.
  • brainstorm real-world, societal problems as a class and address them in imaginative ways, individually and in small groups, using the “Superhero/Super-Villain Profile Form.”
  • apply their knowledge of characterization by creating their own superheroes or super-villains, gadgets, and settings by completing the “Superhero/Super-Villain Profile Form.”
  • collaborate in small groups to exchange constructive feedback.
  • reflect in writing on the ways in which people (and super-characters) solve problems.
  • verbally present their characters to the class in an organized way.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Applying
Extension suggestions: 
  • Have students expand on their reflections, turning them into action plans for ways they might personally start to solve a problem in society or in their own lives.
  • Bring in (or have students bring in) a variety of examples of heroes and villains from books, comic books, movies, or television for the class to consider.  Have students analyze what makes them memorable, vivid, or successful—or not.  What characteristics do we see again and again?  Students might also compare various super-characters to their own to see how closely theirs follow common superhero/villain formulas and in what ways their characters are original.
  • Have students make up a back story—or “origin” story—for their characters using the Bio-Cube Student Interactive to help organize and outline the character’s history.
  • Have students create a sidekick for their character, someone with ancillary but helpful attributes to help the main super-character get his or her job done.
  • Have students draw their creations.  They can draw the characters, gadgets, residences, vehicles, or all.  Some children like to draw figures, while others like to draw mechanical things or landscapes; in this extension, they get to express themselves the way they like best.  You might also suggest that students label their drawings, pointing out the parts that most contribute to their super-characters’ powers or abilities.

Helpful Hints

Materials:

  • Computers with Internet Access
  • Superhero/Super-Villian Profile Form Printouts
  • Superhero/Super-Villian Sample Characteristics Printouts
  • Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizer Printout

References

Contributors: