Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Jason McEntee


The 9/11 event has had a profound impact on all forms of contemporary narratives. After 9/11, the Bush Administration waged The War on Terror as a way to bring about the imperialist pride that the United States once maintained before Vietnam and to restore what Tom Englehardt refers to as “victory culture.” The United States government and its military have utilized the media to construct a national purpose since 9/11: a purpose largely understood as a mission to combat and eradicate terrorism as well as to police third world nations. This thesis examines post-9/11 SF films, such as The Dark Knight (2008), Revenge of the Sith (2005) and The Avengers (2012), for their ability to examine these cultural issues without directly indicting the U.S. and its military. Post- 9/11 SF films express three distinct anxieties that are common to the American people and their nation: terrorism, warfare, and dystopia. In conjunction with these cultural anxieties, these films convey a loss of both national identity and individual identity through a lack of freedom, democracy, and symbolic physically flawed characters. While these films vary in subject and intent, SF films remain a lens through which to explore important contemporary issues and to express the hope for a better future.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Science fiction films -- History and criticism.
Fantasy films -- History and criticism.
September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001
Terrorism in motion pictures.
Dystopian films -- History and criticism.
War films -- History and criticism.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 77-84).



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


In Copyright - Educational Use Permitted