Whitworth’s ‘super’ professor

Whitworth’s ‘super’ professor

A Whitworth professor is using his passion for comic book heroes to teach psychology.

“There’s a big theme of resiliency throughout a lot of super hero movies,” said Dr. Justin Martin. “They often have very traumatic, difficult origin stories and they have to rise above it. From a scholarly lens, I think there’s a lot of value in that.”

As a Whitworth psychology professor, Dr. Martin is now passing that lens onto his students.

Before getting his PhD from U.C. Berkeley and his Masters from Harvard, Martin was a voracious comic book reader. That is, before the teenage years hit.

“Middle school and high school, I kind of put it away a little bit. With sports and girls and adolescence, it wasn’t as cool.”

Martin rediscovered his love for capped heroes during his undergrad years in Berkeley. It was then that he realized plot lines in comics, a lot like life, blur the boundaries between right, wrong and easy, making the correct choice difficult to identify. To the third year Whitworth psych professor, there’s no greater example than the central plot of Captain America: Civil War.

Ironman believes his peers would surrender their powers to the control and regulation of the government. Captain America, however, believes the public is better served if heroes continue to operate on their own accord. It’s a debate Martin continues to struggle with.

“Initially I was Captain America’s side when I was younger,” said Dr. Martin. I’m actually on Ironman’s side now because I’m thinking about it more pragmatically. He believes that we should register, it’s better, but also thinking down the road – super heroes can have better relationships with the government in the society that they live in, so I’m team Ironman right now.”