“Rise Of Super Heroes” Comic Book Legend Stan Lee To Teach Free Online Course From edX & The Smithsonian Institution

Stan Lee, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, POW! Entertainment and Chairman Emeritus of Marvel, has teamed up with the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex, to teach a free open online course, in partnership with edX, the nonprofit online learning initiative. Fans will have the opportunity to become certified experts in the superhero genre and be taught by one of its greatest living legends.


Lee, a pioneer of the comic book genre and creator of some of the most recognizable action heroes of page and screen, will join Michael Uslan, Executive Producer of the Dark Knight trilogy and Professor of Practice at Indiana University’s Media School, and David Uslan, Executive Producer of Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch and AMC’s Mob Week documentary series, to teach “Rise of Super Heroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture.” An examination of the rise of comic books to their dominant place in pop culture, the course will provide different perspectives of the history and cultural influences of the superhero genre.  The course is open to all ages, and is delivered via video lectures and interviews, interactive exercises, curated links and readings, and online discussion with course faculty and students from around the world.

Learn from Smithsonian and industry experts including:

– Stan Lee, who created the modern superhero template. His early comics featuring Spiderman, Iron Man®, The Hulk, Thor®, and The Avengers led Marvel to success. He continues to reinvent himself to create modern global superheroes and appear in cameos in superhero films and TV, such as Avengers: Age of Ultron.

– Michael Uslan, executive producer of top grossing, award winning movies, including The Dark Knightseries, Lego® Movie, the animated Batman films and Batman® VS Superman. 

In this course, we explore the following questions:

– Why did superheroes first arise in 1938 and experience what we refer to as their “Golden Age” during World War II?
– Why did the superhero genre ebb and flow in popularity over the decades?
– How have comic books, published weekly since the mid-1930’s, mirrored a changing American society, reflecting our mores, slang, fads, biases and prejudices? 
– Why was the comic book industry nearly shut down in the McCarthy Era of the 1950’s? 
– How did our superheroes become super-villains in the eyes of the government, clergy, educators, and parents of the mid-20th Century? 
– When and how did comic books become acceptable again, and eventually become valid teaching tools in universities and schools? 
– When and how did comic book artwork become accepted as a true American art form as indigenous to this country as jazz? 
– Finally, when and how did comic books become “cool” and the basis for blockbuster movies, hit TV series, top-selling video games, and acclaimed animation, while also impacting fashion and style- and even the moral and ethical codes of children- around the globe?


Participants who sign up for and earn a verified certificate in the five week course will receive a certificate featuring original artwork with both Stan Lee’s and Michael Uslan’s signatures.

“It’s a great honor being invited to share my views on the evolution of superheroes and the genre’s overall impact across all generations of people,” said Stan Lee. “Throughout my career, characters have evolved so much – from drawings on a page to other-worldly special effects only animation could produce, to live-action and so much more. I can’t wait to dive into these discussions thanks to Smithsonian and edX.”

“The comic book is an indigenous American art form worthy of galleries, museums, and universities, and has become contemporary American folklore embraced around the world,” said Michael Uslan. “It’s exciting to see the Smithsonian Institution and edX recognize and honor the comic book industry by making this landmark course a reality.”

“Rise of Super Heroes” starts May 5, 2015. Participants must register by May 31  and complete the course to qualify to receive the signed certificate with limited edition artwork.  



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