Accessibility statement

Irene Zarza Rubio

PhD by research


Thesis Title & Description

I Still Believe in Heroes’: Creating a Contemporary Mythology in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

  • Supervisor: Simon Van Der Borgh and Nathan Townsend

My doctoral research focuses on the relationship between the concepts of mythology and interconnected transmedia storytelling. The word ‘mythology’ is usually associated with a collection of stories shared by a particular cultural tradition. Contemporary media has recently adopted the idea of creating a shared universe of stories, with the interconnected franchises of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the most prominent example. This PhD seeks to determine whether such stories should be considered contemporary mythologies. Elements such as narrative cohesion, fandom or stardom will be analysed to discover the level of engagement these narratives establish with audiences to become part of the collective consciousness.



I completed my undergraduate degree in English Studies at the University of Valencia, where I focused my dissertation on gangster films and their conventions in regards to the main characters and their endings in gangster stories.

Shortly after, I undertook my MLitt in Modern and Contemporary Literature and Culture at the University of St Andrews. This time, for my dissertation, I researched long-form television adaptations of unfinished or open-ended books, specifically A Song of Ice and Fire by G. R.R. Martin and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Currently, my interest in media and storytelling has led me to pursue a PhD at the University of York focusing on long-form transmedia storytelling and contemporary mythologies.

I sit on the Board of Trustees of The Refugee Buddy Project, a small refugee and migrants rights charity in East Sussex.


Research Interests

Transmedia, storytelling, mythology, superheroes, film, television, literature.



Conference attendance and papers presented at The Superhero Project:
2021: WandaVision: a Tale of Fan Theories.
2022: “We Are Not Gods”: Intertextuality and Fragmented Mythologies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
2023: “In the beginning…”: Ancient Histories and Landscapes as World-Building Strategies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


Contact details

Irene Zarza Rubio
Postgraduate Researcher
School of Arts and Creative Technologies