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From Superman ®, Batman ®, Wonder Woman ®, and more, superheroes have been household names for generations. The comic books that tell their stories have become unforgettable parts of American popular culture as both young and old have fallen in love with these crusaders. In the past decade, superhero movies have dominated the big screen. In 2014 alone, these adaptations grossed nearly 1.5 billion dollars worldwide, showing their global appeal. Smithsonian’s The Rise of Superheroes delves into the impact and influence of these iconic characters and provides a glimpse into how, and why, they were created.

Each week, learners hear from industry leaders including Stan Lee, legendary artist and former president of Marvel Comics, and Michael Uslan, the executive producer of The Dark Knight series. The Rise of Superheroes prompts the imagination as students consider how real-world events shaped comic books throughout history.

At the end of the course, students showcased all they had learned by developing their own superheroes and comic strips to chronicle their adventures. Read on to view some of the amazing final projects from The Rise of Superheroes. A big thanks to these students for sharing their work!

Want to bring your own superheroes to life? Enroll in this incredible course today and share your imagination with the world! The Rise of Superheroes starts August 12, 2015.

David Abella

Age 25
San Francisco, California
The reason I took this class was to learn the connections that comic books have to mythology as well as see the growth, history, and ever growing influence that comics have in our society.

Emil Alegada

Age 24
Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines 
I took this class because I love superheroes, comics and stories. What I like about them is that they take you back in time through stories of the past and show some items/ memorabilia. The course featured a lot of historic events that affected how comics were made back then. It is also cool that they tell you how some of our most famous writers and artists made these superheroes. The activities were very enjoyable.

David Alvarez Zamorano

Age 36
Madrid, Spain
I decided to take this course because I was very interested in going a step further in the world of comics, not only to have knowledge about characters, books and authors, but also the circumstances surrounding its existence. I think it’s important to know where things come from.

Alejandro Tolosana

Age 36
Buenos Aires, Argentina
I took the class because I love Superhero comics; they have been part of my culture and have always influenced my view of the world and my ethics and my whole identity, not exclusively, but more heavily than other forms of art. I thought the class was comprehensive and entertaining, but my favorite part was that it put me in contact with other people from around the world with similar interests.

Sabine Antigua

Age 19
Manila, Philippines
I took this class to learn more about comics history and connect with other fans around the world. I enjoyed the engaging, fun activities, and unique insight into the world of superheroes and of course, personal input by Stan Lee himself.

Bob Dennis

Age 54
Huntington Beach, California
I took this Superheroes class because I was very interested in how they were made and what impact they have on popular culture. I believe Professor Ulsan did an amazing job of taking us through the various epochs in the Smithsonian collection. I truly learned that comic book heroes are our modern day myths that define us as a society. They can also help solve the unique problems facing us.

Domenico Gandolfi

Age 51
Imperia, Italy
I took class to try a different approach at creating characters and stories, and I was curious about the evolution of comics through the decades.

Emily Taylor

Age 36
South Bend, Indiana
I took this class for a number of reasons, including a love for literature and history.  Plus, my 9 year old son has expressed an interest in designing comic books, and I thought this might help me guide him if he starts to get serious about it.

Jon Sakamoto

Age 37
Pasadena, California
I took the POPX1.1x course to enhance my knowledge of the comic book medium and its overall relationship to other contemporary media, such as film, publishing and television.  The course gave me insights into atypical  perspectives, on the subject matter, not found in traditional academic settings.  In contrast, the edx platform allowed for individuals from very different professional disciplines to contribute to the overall discussion, yet still providing  supervision by respected academics and industry professionals.

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