Superhero movies, gotta love them, right? There’s nothing better than seeing pure good taking on pure evil in a toe-to-toe smackdown packaged in a three-hour story for our viewing pleasure.
Now there are two types of superhero movie watchers; you’ve got those who watch the movie because of the experience. The intense fights, gripping action and ultimate triumph of the ‘goodies’ over the ‘baddies.’
And then there are those who look deeper and ask; what were the motives and the ideology behind the hero or villain that caused them to act in the way that they did?
Sometimes we actually question if the heroes were truly moral. For instance, Batman’s ‘no-killing’ rule or the clash of individual or state rights in Marvel’s Civil War.
So, that got me thinking; what’s the primary ethic of these superhero movies? Put simply it seems to me that it is this;
Humanity is the ultimate good, and any threat to that goodness is immediately met with pummelling all in the name of ‘truth and justice’.
In other words; if you threaten us (the ultimate good), we will destroy and rule over you.
Doesn’t seem much different than the villain if we’re being honest; violence met with violence makes violence squared, not truth or justice.
But this primary ethic, isn’t something just came about in the world today, but has dominated all of history. Such examples include the absolute devastation of the atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima to end the second world war, or the massacre of Tiananmen square in 1989. Both having seemingly differing views of the world, religion and politics; yet executed in the same way;
While they might claim to be different, they proclaim the same slogan; If you threaten us, we will destroy and rule over you.
But now I draw your attention to the great book of Hebrews, which was written to encourage followers of Jesus to hold fast to him;
“God, for whom and through whom everything was made, chose to bring many children into glory. And it was only right that he should make Jesus, through his suffering, a perfect leader, fit to bring them into their salvation.” Hebrews 2:10
I was recently listening to a sermon by pastor Tim Mackie and he makes this observation about the Greek term, ‘Archegon’.
“Now that word ‘perfect leader’ (other translations have ‘captain’ or ‘pioneer’) is something we brush over fairly quickly, but to the original hearers of this letter, they were having their categories blown. There was only one person who heralded this title in those days; the ancient superhero Hercules. Jesus is the greater Hercules; he is THE archegon THE superhero!”
But what did this Jesus destroy and overcome?
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death." Hebrews 2:14-15
Jesus destroyed the Nemean Lion of sin and the Hydra of death, and because of this we are free from the ultimate evil! But unlike Hercules or any other human in history, he didn’t destroy it by beating it into bloodied submission, to the death.
Rather, He allowed himself to be overcome by death because of his love for you Dear Reader; He died for you. But he also rose from the dead for you as well, and he trusted that the Father God would destroy evil by raising him to new life! So too now, when we believe that Jesus died, rose and now lives as the ultimate superhero; we too can overcome evil by being overcome by it, and trust that the destruction won’t be done by us, but rather the one who is greater than all!
But this is a tough ask; to stop seeking myself and to seek others and to love them, as Jesus did. But let me assure you through this encouragement from Revelation;
“And they (followers of Jesus) overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." Revelation 12:11
Through the Father, Jesus overcame. Through Jesus we have overcome and will overcome, by holding fast to the great news of Jesus’ love for us.
If you would like to listen to the sermon mentioned above, it can be found here;
Exploring My Strange Bible - Book of Hebrews Part 2 - What does it mean to be Human?