I recently stumbled across this interview with author Peter Coogan that reminded me just how much I enjoyed his book Superhero: The Secret Origin of a Genre. In that book, he defines what the super hero genre actually is, by meticulously comparing it to what it ALMOST is. Clearly, the genre has elements of sci-fi, fantasy, action, adventure, detective, and many others, but it is also its own unique thing. In his book, Coogan describes exactly where superhero stands in relation to these genre-siblings.
As a reader, it is simply fascinating to me. As a writer, it gives me a new formula-lens through which ti view my work. If certain elements are not working, I can see that one possible reason might be that i have actually deviated from genre-model. And, once I see my work in that sense, I can more effectively, intentionally, break from form.