Many of us grew up wanting to be a superhero – the cool powers, the costumes, the romance, the action. Then there’s the super admiration part. Who doesn’t want to be the person who is admired by others for making the world a better place?
We all struggle with something. We all have vices, addictions and bad tendencies. So do those who are supposed to be the pinnacle of Justice. Superheroes have the audacity to stand tall, to seek out evil, all the while dealing with their own personal struggle. They struggle with what the right choice is, and how much power they should actually have in that choice. Superheroes are written to bear the brunt of the world’s issues, and deal with their own at the same time, while keeping both balanced. It becomes relatable, something we can fall back on.
There’s also the element of hope. This is likely why superheroes exist – to give us hope. We know that no matter what the odds are, people are inherently good. That one person makes a difference. That even with no superhuman powers, one person can make a difference. That having powers doesn’t automatically make you better than anyone. In many ways, superheroes tell us not only what it means to be human, but for Christians, they also personify the endless struggle between grace and temptation.
Think about Daredevil for example. He’s the blind hero who guards Marvel’s New York City. He wants to do well, he wants to love his neighbor, but when faced with humanity’s pride and cruelty, he starts to question whether his actions really make a difference. Why show mercy when it only leads to betrayal? Why hold yourself to a higher standard when it leaves you broken and bloody? This is something the early Christians understood. The Bible reminds us, “Do not repay anyone for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12: 17-19).
We are called as Christians to love our neighbors, and care for those around us, even when the task isn’t easy or the burden light.
Then we can look at Aquaman. He’s the King of the Sea, who lives in a world where he doesn’t truly belong. Why should he care what happens to land dwellers? Wouldn’t it be easier to stay beneath the waves and let the surface world pay for its own bad decisions? While many Christians have felt similarly, Christ doesn’t give us this option.
Jesus said, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:17-18).
Superheroes aren’t Greek mythology characters that have powers and just go about flirting with mortals. Most are actually more human despite their powers. We can see it in the way their fears are depicted as something they have to overcome. Their emotions draw us in. Their desires hint some weakness that breaks them and exposes them as human. They symbolize us – the internal struggles and the power to make the world a better place with love for our fellow man.
It’s also the idea of “rising again" when the world keeps pushing us down – not just because you want but because you have to because God called us to. It’s about being what you have to be because it’s there when you were and you had to choose to become it. It’s a memory or reminder of Jesus, Himself even, and all those He inspired to fight for something worthwhile.
One big reason people have always been into heroes may be because everyone was meant to turn into one at some point. We’ve always been inclined to do good despite the enemy and the ways of the world. This is a good reason to believe that God instilled a nature to do well in everyone when He made us and it really depends on the level in which we choose to good.
Superheroes are everywhere nowadays. From TV to the big screen, they no longer belong to the comic book world. While they used to only be adored by comic book fanatics, it is hard to find someone who doesn’t know who Captain America or the Green Lantern is. Now, we can love them for more than the action they bring in our favorite comic books or on the big screen – we can love them for the lessons they teach us, including ones on faith.
The world is a tough place, and sometimes we need heroes to swoop in and remind us what’s worth fighting for. It may seem a little childish, but then again, Jesus told us to be more like children. Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven" (Matthew 18:3). Maybe it’s time to dust off your old comic books, or turn on your favorite superhero movie and catch up with your favorite characters. What you find may strengthen your faith.