Are Movie Slashers Really Supervillains?

by Frank Martin

The relationship between superhero films and horror films has often been discussed in great detail. There are many similarities between both the rise of the genres and their staying power in the mainstream public consciousness. But the similarities are both simpler and go even deeper than a thorough analysis of the films themselves. Mainly, it is their depiction of fantasy and the supernatural that draws a clear link between what is capable in these films and how they are received by the audience.

Of course, there are many different types of horror films. But for the sake of this argument, it is the slasher film that is most prominent in connecting horror with superheroes. To put this in recent terms, we can examine James Wan‘s unique horror film Malignant. While the movie does a lot to play around with the narrative, the story’s main antagonist is eventually revealed to be a sadistic killer of extraordinary speed, strength, and agility. The movie actually descends into full-blown superhero-esque action sequences that show this killer performing remarkable feats just like a supervillain. Similarly, Halloween Kill‘s Michael Myers comes to mind as a strong, silent figure with seemingly mythical levels of survivability. It wouldn’t take much of a change in tone of either to introduce a super-powered hero to oppose the supernatural monsters.

Filmmakers give their monsters powers and abilities to create impossible odds at defeating them. This is a tactic superhero writers know all too well. The infamous Freddy Krueger can infest your dreams and torment you while you’re sleeping — a tactic that has been used time and time again with actual comic book supervillains. So while film historians can go into great detail about how the rise of these two genres are parallel to one another, it doesn’t take much to see the similarities between the supernatural monsters of horror and the powerful beings in superhero movies.

Halloween Kills and Malignant are both streaming now on HBOMax.

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