Wagner’s master array of borrowed, modified, and reinvented archetypes—the wanderer on a ghost ship, the savior with no name, the cursed ring, the sword in the tree, the sword reforged, the novice with unsuspected powers—lurks behind the blockbuster fantasy and superhero narratives that hold sway in contemporary Hollywood.
It is probably no coincidence that the superhero emerged in the nineteen-thirties, at a time when totalitarian regimes were overrunning Europe and Russia. The objectification of the young male body in Communist and Fascist propaganda probably influenced the trend: liberal-democratic societies, derided as weak, required warriors of power. The chiselled and buxom torsos of comic-book characters seem to be descended from the fin-de-siècle sketches of Wagner heroes and heroines by such illustrators as Arthur Rackham and Franz Stassen.
Alex Ross, “Wagner in Hollywood”, The New Yorker (31 August 2020), 23.