Super Heroes Are Violent Sociopaths, Villains Are Pretty Chill Says New Study Totally Not Funded by Lex Luthor

A new study has found that super heroes in films are more violent and cause more harm to people and property than the villains they’re aiming to stop. The study, which came from the Penn State Children’s Hospital… wait, hold the f**k up. How does Penn State still have a children’s hospital? How did this not get shut down along with the Bill Cosby Mixology Acadamy and the Mel Gibson Institute for Jewish Studies?

Anyway, the study involved watching ten popular super hero films and making a note about who did all the murders. It says they used Box Office Mojo to find the most popular super hero films of 2015 and 2016, which means we can get an idea of what movies they probably used for the study.

  1. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  2. Captain America: Civil War
  3. Deadpool
  4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  5. Suicide Squad
  6. Doctor Strange
  7. Ant-Man
  8. X-Men: Apocalypse
  9. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
  10. Fantastic Four

I don’t know that these are the ten specific films they used since we’ve only seen the abstract of the study, but those are Box Office Mojo’s 10 highest rated super hero films of those years. Here’s what they found, specifically.

Results: A total of 10 superhero-based films were analyzed. The average number of violent acts associated with protagonist and antagonist characters for all included films was 22.7 (95% CI: 16.8-30.7) and 17.5 (95% CI: 13.9-21.9) mean events per hour, respectively (p=0.019 with adjustment for significant reviewer variability). The most common acts of violence associated with protagonists for all included films were: “fighting” (1021 total acts), “use of a lethal weapon” (659), “destruction of property” (199), “murder” (168), and “bullying/intimidation/torture” (144). The most common acts of violence associated with antagonists for all included films were: “use of a lethal weapon” (604 total acts), “fighting” (599), “bullying/intimidation/torture” (237), “destruction of property” (191), and “murder” (93). The average number of violent acts associated with male and female characters for all included films was 33.6 (95% CI: 27.3-41.4) and 6.5 (95% CI: 3.9-11.0) mean events per hour, respectively.

I think one of the things that might be throwing these results off a bit is that Captain America: Civil War was all about heroes fighting heroes and barely has any villains to speak of. I also think it’s a bit of a stretch to call Deadpool a “hero.” He is a violent sociopath with severe brain damage who started out as an X-Men villain. I wonder what these numbers would be like if those two films were excluded. Putting Avengers: Infinity War in the study would have added at least 3.5 billion murders to the villain column, too.

I don’t think anyone is really surprised that super hero films are violent. They’re about good guys beating up bad guys. It’s not something to base your morality around. It’s something to watch because you can leave your kids with a sitter and go somewhere with air conditioning and maybe get a handjob with popcporn butter if your partner is in a good enough mood.

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