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Comic Books (Not) All Grown Up

July 22, 2014

…Continuing my critique of modern art from my last post, I’ll turn my attention to the most popular movie genre of our day.

Western society is awash in superhero entertainment. Maybe it’s because computer generated effects have reached the point of affordability and effectiveness that a long-standing pent-up demand for comic book hero movies can now be released in a flood? – after all, we have had superhero film efforts since Flash Gordon.

Or maybe it’s because large production companies have purchased the rights to these comic book characters, and they are committed to pushing this on Americans and Europeans in order to gain a return on their investment?

No, somehow I think there are deeper reasons that we’ve gone from seeing five of these movies per decade to five per month, including spinoffs, sequels and TV shows…

Superheroes bring back sanity and control to a chaotic world

Whether the world has been thrown into chaos (or even risk of annihilation) by a natural disaster or an evil villain, most of these movies have this theme. And to most of their fans, normal life may feel nearly as chaotic and out of control.

Christians understand that the world may experience evil, but it is already under control – of God.

Superheroes have a moral compass and “do the right thing”

It appeals to our inner conscience to see someone follow their moral compass. …even “dark” heroes, like Batman, who are crafted to show inner depth and turmoil. These superheroes could use their powers to take all the prestige and possessions they could ever want. It is the fact that they could, but don’t, that makes them all the more admirable.

Christians understand that by nature we don’t want a moral compass, that only one man has ever completely “done the right thing”, and that He was tempted not only with prestige and power, but rule of the entire universe – but instead He obeyed His Father and paid a penalty owed by others.

Superheroes are willing to sacrifice themselves

Some superhero movies approach very Christian themes in the self-sacrifice of the hero – but they always leave out any call to Repent.

Christians understand that audiences see the power of sacrifice so clearly in these movies, and are so quick to love these heroes, because superheroes are willing to sacrifice themselves without asking humankind to change our ways. Christ’s was a more powerful sacrifice than any other that our imaginations can conjure, but the Gospel’s call to repent gives sinful man motivation to rationalize his rejection of it.

Superheroes are strong, and beautiful

Their physical attributes are by far their most important, and it is in physically subduing the world and their enemies that they find their victory.

Christians understand that the physical world is vain and fleeting, that it is in spiritual strength, peace, perseverance and wisdom that we are sanctified.

Superheroes sample eternal themes but in a childlike, incomplete and worldly way

It is the power of these themes, and the technically impressive way they are shown onscreen, that make these movies and TV shows the most popular in our day. Most audiences seem not to realize that they are watching a child’s comic book story – albeit one which has come to life with millions of dollars of special effects.

Christians have left childish things behind. We have a Savior, and have no need of superheroes.


From → Politics, Worldview

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