With the release of Watchmen imminent, Alan Moore, author of the original comics, talks at length about the significance of the superhero archetype.
Alan Moore seems to be the living embodiment of the idea that madness and genius are closely related. On the one hand, he has a beard like a hedge and worships an imaginary snake, but on the other hand, he has penned some of the most influential comics on the history of the medium, titles such as V for Vendetta and, of course, Watchmen, the only comic to ever win a Hugo Award.
In an interview with Wired, Moore examines the idea of superheroes , before discussing his past works and the film adaptations thereof and the medium of comic books in general
Amongst other things, Moore suggests that superheroes are a uniquely American phenomenon, and deeply tied into the the American psyche, as well as discussing how his most celebrated work became one of the biggest stumbling blocks for comics ever since. The full interview can be read here, but those of little patience be warned, it's a very, very long interview.