Superheroes 'send wrong message'
A generation ago they stood up for the highest principles of fairness, courage and decency, but today's tough-guy superheroes are sending out the wrong message to susceptible young boys, say researchers.
The "macho" role models in comic books and movies may be damaging the social skills of teenagers and even affecting their performance at school, it is claimed.
US psychologist Professor Sharon Lamb, from the University of Massachusetts in Boston, said: "Today's superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he's aggressive, sarcastic, and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity."
"When not in superhero costume, these men, like Iron Man, exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns."
"There is a big difference in the movie superhero of today and the comic book superhero of yesterday."
Although the old-style heroes fought criminals, "these were heroes boys could look up to and learn from because outside of their costumes they were real people with real problems and many vulnerabilities," said Prof Lamb.
The superhero's flip side - the "slacker" - was equally dangerous, she maintained.
Slackers are individuals who revel in underachievement and "save face" by not even trying.
The archetype slacker is Jeff Bridges' character "The Dude" in the film The Big Lebowski.