"Superheros"

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Alcott, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Alcott

    Alcott
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    I can't recall this topic being discussed on this board before. But I've just been doing a little research of personal interest about the history of the superhero idea-- folklore, comics, novels, motion pictures...and scripture. Other than the basics to define the genre, I'm sure we don't need many details about the best known ones and their different powers and methods. So we'll just say they have impossible-- or at least very unusual-- abilities which they choose to use for good rather than selfish gain. Ability to fly, superhuman strength, indestructable body, or incredible ingenuity are probably the most common traits.

    So, considering all this from the objective viewpoint of someone who regards the Bible as one among many books of myths and legends, Jesus would be the ultimate superhero. He could not be hurt, physically or otherwise, unless he chose to let it happen-- which he would do for a greater good. So he was indestructable, he "flew" into heaven, he 'materialized' in a room, he could heal or restore life, and until he allowed himself to be harmed, he escaped a lynch mob and the mob to arrest fell down just at his words. How can someone who is the objective reader or hearer be convinced of the gospel as long as there are so many other examples of superheros?

    But it does seem that Jesus has not been so directly associated with the superhero genre. But I have seen such association with the biblical character who meets that description almost as well; perhaps in some ways better.... Samson. He had superhuman strength-- or did he? I have to think so... carrying off city gates, killing how many with a blunt weapon like a jackass' jawbone? It's even part of the superhero genre to have a secret weakness-- i.e., Superman's cryptonite-- and that's where the great misunderstanding about Samson comes from. Many references have been made to the idea that Samson's "strength was in his hair," so when he told his secret and lost his hair, he lost his strength. It's too easy to see how someone can conclude that. But the fact is, of course, that he was a Nazarite, and his hair being cut was the last of the lifelong vows he violated. Nevertheless, he is equated with Hercules, and he does share some interesting parallels-- both had a divinity-inspired birth, both fought and killed a lion, both underwent humiliation. And another objective view of the history of the region includes the idea that Israelite tribe of Dan [Samson was a Danite], may have been more Canaanite, or even Philistine, themselves than Israeli. This has been used to explain Samson's lack of devoutness for Mosaic law, in spite of his being a Yaweh-chosen leader. [And, as an aside, it is interesting that the tribe of Dan is not mentioned in the 144,000 in Revelation.]

    I don't know if this is a subject anyone is interested in discussing, or whether I've focused the points very well. But I suppose the chief question may be: if someone responds of the gospel with the attitude that the Bible is just ancient literature, not too unlike other such writing, and this superhero angle is used as an example... how should it be handled? What would be our answer?
     
  2. InTheLight

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    I would respond that the superheroes of literature and comic books are pale imitations of the real ones described in the Bible. Take Superman for instance. Superman was sent to earth by father Jor-El (El is a Hebrew word for God.) So El (God) is sending his son, Kal-El, to earth to save humanity. There's even a line in the movie spoken by Jor-El (played by Marlon Brando) to the effect that 'humans are good people, they only need a light to show them the way. That's why I'm sending you--my only son.'

    In the comics Kal-El fell from heaven and was found wrapped in a blanket by Mary Kent and Jonathan Joseph Kent. So Superman's parents had names Mary and Joseph. (Mary was later changed to Martha.) In the first movie (1978?) the baby Kal-El emerges naked from the crashed spaceship and holds his arms out parallel to the earth in a kind of crucifixion pose.

    In the comics Superman dies and his tomb is found empty because he has been resurrected.

    I'm sure there are more parallels but I can't think of them right now.
     
  3. Luke2427

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    I preach a sermon on this entitled "The Greatest Superhero".

    I reveal the results of some research in that sermon wherein I make the case that mankind has always been obsessed with the idea of the superhero.

    And the story line is usually the same regardless of whether the superhero is Superman, Rooster Cogburn, Beowulf, Spiderman, Batman or The Avengers.

    There is a super-powered villain.
    He has taken captive helpless victims (often due to their own mistakes).
    There is a super powered hero who is willing to give his life to save those victims.

    I contend that the reason we love that story is because it is the story of the universe.
    Satan is the villain.
    We are his helpless hostages.
    Jesus is the hero who gives his life to defeat the villain and free us.

    Our love for the story of the superhero is evidence that we already know subconsciously the Gospel to be true.
     
  4. Yeshua1

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    that is why he has been called the DC Comics "Jesus!"
     
  5. Alcott

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    "Obesssed?" Yes, that's a word I was kind of hoping would come up in this. That has to be a big reason there have been so many superheros-- that selling comic books, taking in movie receipts, and buying advertisers' products are all enhanced by 'fans' becoming obsessed with characters and watching or reading everything that features them, and superheros are made to be obsessed with. At least by people whose obsessions tend to be objects which can really do them no good. And that, of course, would include the ultimate superhero, Jesus, to those who view him in the light of a legendary/fictional or hyperbolic character.

    And there's also the misplacement of the comic book type superhero for Jesus himself; that is, actually looking to them to "save" us in some sense. I don't know how many are Dragent watchers on here, but to me one of the most interesting of its episodes had to do with this subject, and can be watched here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/55153#i0,p16,s3,d0 .

    Spoilers ahead: Movie theaters report to police some burglaries and thefts of posters pertaining to their coming attractions. The thief breaks glass coverings of the displays in theaters, and in another case of a production company, he steals smaller posters. Finally at one theater theft an employee actually sees him and describes him to the detective, telling them they may not believe him-- a man on the short side wearing green with a red cape and black hat resembling what Napolean wore, and he moved very swiftly. They interview the manager at the production company site, and he tells them that 1 or 2 days before the burglary a young man had come in and asked about getting those type of posters that were stolen, telling him those are not made available to the general public, which greatly upset him; and describing him as about 21, curly hair, and "trying" to grow a mustache but not very successfully. All the burglaries do have a common thread-- the stolen items concern the comic book character, "Captain Lightning" [as far as I know, made up for the episode]. Finally he is captured robbing another theater, having gotten the monicker "Super Fan." For a long time he will not answer questions other than to say he is the "Crimson Crusader," and telling the police that they, especially, should understand his need to keep his true identity a secret. Finally he does admit to being Stanley Stover, a big fan of Captain Lightning and a few other super characters, noting their powers, such as C.L. can make himself invisible, or some can walk through walls, which he would do if he could. At this, one detective asks, "Do you want to turn invisible and walk through walls?" Then he reveals his true movtivations-- his father had left him before he knew him, he was bullied and ostracised as a kid, and he found his escape in the movies with Captain Lightning and his other heros, imagining himself as being there on the screen-- flying, turning invisible, with no one able to hurt him. He said he stole the posters because the average fan cannot get those kind, so he "felt closer to them" by acquiring them. I don't know if the ending would be described as poignoint or "tearjerking," as he is taken home to get the posters he stole, he hears his mother come in, and he goes over toward the life-size image of Captain Lightning and cries against the wall. As he moves away, it looks like C.L. shedding his tears. In the Dragnet conclusion of telling the suspect's sentence, we find he was ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment.

    That is obsession. Most Dragnet episodes, of course, take great liberties with the police files they are based upon, in order to tell a story in half-hour time slot, but it would be very interesting to me to find out the real facts about this one. But as Christians, that is what we are accused of-- the kind of obsession 'Super Fan' Stanely Stover had, while Jesus, like Captain Lightning, does not prevent us from being hurt, nor give us his own powers [the charismatic movement is outside the scope here].
     
    #5 Alcott, Jan 22, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2013

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