Black Widow killed the superhero on landing
Superhero poses are constantly evolving. With the durable 3-point landing now a source of ridicule, a new pose has taken its place.
Superhero poses have always been a part of the genre, and with four-color storytelling now being a behemoth of pop culture, self-awareness has crept into the previous unironic realm of how the seekers of justice capped transmit power and respect. The poses are taken from the comics as a way to convey action and drama in a still setting, and the concept never went away. In particular, the three-point landing, or “superhero landing,” has become such a staple of superhero movies that more conscious entries have actively poked fun at it. In typical self-deprecating Marvel Cinematic Universe fashion, last summer Black Widow maybe he finally did it for good.
In its place, a new contender for Cool Superhero Pose has emerged. A very ironic Tumblr post noted the preponderance of a more laid-back pose among recent live-action superheroes. It’s a kind of “soft power pose,” with one hand on the hip and the other hanging casually to the side. And with superheroes landing well past its expiration date, it could become the new way for superheroes to strut their stuff.
The story of the superhero landing
The three-point landing replaced the more traditional power pose of right hands on the hips, which was a staple of the medium from the start and quickly passed the printed page. George Reeves adopted the pose for the opening credits of The Adventures of Superman – notably absent in her Clark Kent identity – while psychologist Amy Cuddy caused a stir with her 2012 TED talk touting the emotional benefits of posing. She specifically cited Lynda Carter’s version of Wonder Woman in her presentation.
The pose was iconic, but it was also very old-fashioned, which ultimately led to its dismissal as cheesy and old-fashioned. The three-point landing quickly replaced it as comic book movies began to flourish. It started in martial arts and Japanese movies tokusatsu series, for the same reasons as the traditional power pose: it involved dynamic action and could be easily emulated by young fans. Artist Adi Granov used it for the cover of Invincible Iron Man # 76 in 1998, just like Blade and the Matrix movies. He finally made his way to Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and the Iron Man films, which used Granov’s art as a source of inspiration.
How Black Widow put a stake in the superhero landing pose
Yet even though it has proven its durability as an easy visual signifier, overuse has allowed satire to creep in. Scott Pilgrim vs the world laughed at the pose a whole year before the Black Widow unveiled her legitimately awesome version of it in Iron man 2. It continued to be used – effectively and without irony – for years after that, hanging on even as fans became more aware of it. 2016 dead Pool made him an active target for the protagonist’s fourth wall breaking commentary, leaving him to poke fun at it as villainous Angel Dust played his now-anticipated version of the superhero landing during the film’s climax.
Black Widow put the last nail in the coffin, come full circle of using Natasha in Iron man 2. Yelena blatantly laughs at “that thing you do when you fight” like only a younger brother can. She claims Nat is obviously posing when she does and notes how her older sister repeats certain movements like flipping her hair back each time. That doesn’t stop Nat – Black Widow strikes a pose multiple times in the same movie – but Yelena’s subsequent self-deprecating emulation ends the concept as a one-iron expression of power.
Why hand-on-hip is the superhero pose for our time
The new pose appears to have its roots in the original Power Pose, motivated by a practical necessity early in its development. Steve Rogers’ successful but awkward USO tour in Captain America: The First Avenger presents the character with a quiet dilemma. Several times in the sequence, Rogers places his hands on his hips to pose for his audience, only to be taken aback by his shield. Instead, he adopts a half pose, leaving his right hand on his hip while letting his left hang more loosely to support the shield.
As the Tumblr post shows, it quickly became a viable alternative to the three-point landing. It conveys the confidence and dramatic implications of the traditional pose, but the relaxed arm suggests a casualness that comes from the ease of use. There is recklessness to this, but it’s subtle enough to prevent anyone from calling the practitioner on their perceived flexion. This allows the hero who poses to have his cake and eat it too: projecting his status without appearing to be a big deal. Time will tell how long it will last before the next superhero pose starts to take him apart.
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