MOSCOW (AP) — It may not be Spiderman, but a group of young Russians is creating a new generation of superheroes in an effort to stir up patriotic fervor, and give President Vladimir Putin a boost.
The designers, writers, artists and animators working in an organization called Set, which translates as "network" or "net," build their story lines in a space that could be confused with a hip Silicon Valley start-up. But this group prefers to think of itself as anything but Western.
Set is creating a series of new superhero films featuring everyday Russians who face challenges and prove themselves to be patriots.
"We don't need to look for good deeds far away if we can find them here," said Daniil Zotov, the creative director. He said real-life heroes are far preferable to fantasy figures such as Superman and Spiderman.
Most of the people who work on Set's film and design projects are unpaid volunteers, the group said, motivated by patriotism rather than profit.
The initiative is a contemporary take on an old Russian theme of love of the motherland, with Putin as its ultimate hero. One team of designers has crafted a new clothing and jewelry line called "Putinversteher," German for "Putin sympathizer." A ring with a miniature Putin face set on a silver band is one of the group's best-selling items.
"If before I asked a foreigner what they associate with Russia, he would have said 'matryoshka,' 'balalaika,' and 'bears'," said designer Gleb Krainik, referring to the famous Russian nesting dolls and a traditional string instrument. "Now, any foreigners, whether they like Putin or not, would say Putin."