Three Resources to Teach Superhero Films

WJEC’s selection of the Superhero Film genre for its GCSE Film Studies exam topic turned out to be an excellent and clairvoyant choice. Since centres around the UK began teaching it, some very popular films have developed the genre significantly.

Looking at the list of the biggest opening weekends in North America, 5 out of the top 10 are superhero films. The other 5 are various of the Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games series.

Marvel’s continuing success and consistent story arc leads the way, with Iron Man 3 proving an immense success at the box office, following on from the record-breaking Avengers Assemble.

But what’s behind all this? What’s the appeal of superhero films? Is it an accessible version of science fiction, with its correlating fulfilment and exploration of technological developments? The ideal escapism for a society living in fear of terrorism and the militarisation of its youth and poor through humanitarian adventures in the Middle East?

Or is it the just the cinematic appeal of great SFX combined with the accessible narrative and clear character roles straight from Propp? You can help your students explore these questions – and many more exam-relevant ones – with a range of resources available from ZigZag Education:

  1. Teaching Pack: Packed full of activities and detailed notes on the genre, this resource provides the ideal starting point for teachers of this topic. Written with enthusiasm and clarity, the aim is to provide fully-formed resources as well as inspire your teaching of the topic. Independent reviewer and Head of Film Studies, Sara Sylvester, found that it provided a ‘comprehensive and accessible introduction… cover the key areas to prepare pupils for Paper 1’. (UY77/4497, £49)
  2. Revision Guide: If you are familiar with ZigZag’s annual Media Studies Revision Guide, you’ll recognise the same unique style here – it’s a comprehensive workbook featuring analysis tasks and exam questions (a whole paper’s worth) with sample answers. I sent it to independent reviewer and department head Stacey Derrick:

    ‘I’m finding it hard to find faults!! Really good… I like the match-up of camera angles and shots on pages 23/24 and the following activity where shots are analysed and justified. The exam at the end is brilliant with sample answers and the quality of the pages and examples is impressive… the mark schemes are excellent and allow students to self- and peer-assess their work. The revision tips are also a great feature; having the 20 pages of preamble about the exam and what you need to know is really effective for the ones I teach that panic!& rsquo; – Stacey Derrick, Head of Department & Independent Reviewer (UY77/5060, £69)

  3. Practice Papers: The final piece of the puzzle – original papers in the style of the WJEC exam. These two papers provide a range of practice questions in exam format, with a realistic mark scheme. Plus, one paper has model answers too, great Assessment for Learning! Film Studies teacher and author Sara Mills said the papers ‘seemed very genuine and would be really useful to use in class’. (UY77/4390, £34)

ZigZag resources are available as ‘copy masters’ or in editable format and come with a site licence, allowing you to pay once and copy as often as you need, or put on your server for multiple use.

Each resource is available as a photocopy master with site licence. Also available in:

  1. Easy-printing PDF files (add 30%+VAT), or
  2. PDF with editable Word files (add 50%+VAT).

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