We are in the midst of comic nirvana, as we see movies that we once only dreamed of seeing such as Marvel Civil War and Batman v Superman land on cinema screens and achieve global awareness in a way I would have never imagined. To see major movie stars occupy roles that pay homage to decades of rich comic book history with sincerity is the stuff my nerd dreams were made of, and yet here we are, in a world that actually knows who Ant-Man is. What is driving this renaissance? Is it simply due to the movie industry seeing dollar signs in the relatively untapped market of these superhuman characters? Perhaps, but it would still take legions of eager consumers for these to succeed, and succeed they have as billions of dollars have been made on the backs of these franchises with no end in sight.
I can only speak from my own perspective when it comes to the draw of these characters and the universes they occupy, but from my childhood I have been enamored with the exploits of Batman, Wolverine, Spider-Man, and so many more as they seem to live out the fantasies of many of us… men and women with powers such as flight, super-strength, lightning speed and all the rest. But what if there is something deeper drawing us towards these larger than life personas and their tales, a soul desire that has been mistaken for a mere thirst for quality entertainment. What if this is actually just masking a hunger for the supernatural, for powers that truly do exist, for stories of epic exploits that are REAL? Is it possible that the explosive growth of interest in these movies and the comics that spawned them is actually a cry for something beyond what is on the page and screen?
Tell me if some of these characters sound familiar to you:
A man out of time, he had already tried to overthrow an evil empire dozens of years earlier but had failed to take down the genocidal government that was bent on global domination. He disappeared without a trace, but his destiny beckoned his return from oblivion. Now back on a quest to finish what he had started long ago, he gathered a small group of trusted comrades including a vital but unpredictable brother figure to engage an entire country in a battle for freedom. He spent his life as a man torn, as he pined for a simpler life but could not deny the burden that had been thrust upon him, a role he had been created to fill. Charged with saving an entire nation of people who would constantly challenge his right to lead them, he started out thanklessly as a solo avenger bent on righting wrongs but finished as a leader without equal. From his first fight in an alley to his final benediction to those who would take up his mantle, he remained in peak physical shape, a testament to his unique engineering. Under appreciated in his time, he is now revered as one of the greatest leaders of all time who changed the course of history. Not bad for a guy born on the wrong side of the tracks.
MOSES: The First Avenger (Captain America) Exodus
With more wealth than anyone can possibly imagine, he was a master of creating peace through sheer spectacle. He inherited an empire from his father and through his genius multiplied it to the point that precious metals were reduced in value. A skilled negotiator and a gifted orator, he was sought out across the planet as major leaders from every country sought an audience with him. He was a master of international trade and continued to build his stockpile of riches which he was able to use to fortify his military capabilities as well as create magnificent architectural masterpieces of design. He built advanced living structures and spared no expense to surround himself with the best engineering available. While he made sure that he enjoyed the finer things in life, he was a generous philanthropist and gave more than he could possibly receive, but his big heart had a fatal weakness: He liked the ladies… more to the point he LOVED them. Plural. His playboy attitude got him into situations that his money and his mouth could not save him from, causing him much heartache as he continued to try to make the world a better place while still serving his own interests.
SOLOMON: The Original Genius Playboy Billionaire Philanthropist (Iron Man) 1 Kings 1-11
Raw power and ruthless aggression along with a supernatural capability to battle multiple foes at once without so much as a real weapon in his hand, he was a man out of place as he tried to live the life of a typical mortal but his destiny kept getting in the way. His attempt to marry and live a normal life ended with the savage murder of his wife and father-in-law by his lifelong enemies. His temper drove him into a berserker rage that enabled him to kill up to one THOUSAND men single-handedly in one encounter. A natural leader despite his lack of a moral compass as demonstrated on many occasions, he finally grew to despise the gift that had protected him and gave him the ability to accomplish such incredible feats of strength. The man who could not be killed finally perished in a fitting fashion, at his own hand, in one final sacrificial and heroic act that yielded one final impressive body count.
SAMSON: The Best There is at What He Does (Wolverine) Judges 13-16
I know what you are thinking… A whole lot of testosterone going on so far. So what if I told you that saving the day is an equal opportunity employment position? We start by finding our heroine performing her day job of managing the day to day affair of her country when she received a supernatural message to launch a military campaign to free her people from an oppressive militant dictatorship. She calls up her captain, who stubbornly refuses to enter any battle that she is not physically present for. Honoring his request to accompany him in battle, she informs him in advance that it would be a woman, not a man, who would be responsible for the victory this day. Leading a smaller but determined army, Deborah and her troops completely wiped out their larger and better equipped adversaries, and justice was served as her words rang true and it was the quick thinking of a female double agent who finished off the victory with a vicious and fatal skewering of the evil general.
DEBORAH: Brave, Fierce, and Equally Super (Wonder Woman) Judges 4 and 5
It’s hard to live the life of the smallest and youngest, but when you know that with great power comes great responsibility from such a young age it makes your destiny much easier to embrace. Supernaturally gifted from a young age, he started with the simple, thankless protection of the helpless in his own neighborhood from local beastly bullies, but was quickly thrust into the national spotlight when a simple lunch delivery put him on a collision course with a superhuman monstrosity who was undefeated in hand to hand combat. Undeterred, this scrappy little teenager stared across the battlefield and saw weakness. With the confidence in knowing he was on the right side of the conflict and a sudden need to dispense justice flowing through his veins he directed a few taunting barbs followed by a surprise projectile attack that ended the conflict in a stunning and fatal fashion. This athletic youngster spent much of his life poor, misunderstood, and on the run from those he was only trying to help, but unable to resist the compulsion to save those in need including his enemies. His small frame had hidden a huge heart and a surprising talent for combat.
DAVID: Your Friendly Neighborhood Giant Killer (Spider-Man) 1 and 2 Samuel
And for our final example, we come to the person who carries each and every asset we have mentioned and so many more…
- He can fly like Superman (Acts 1:9-10)
- He has more wealth than we can comprehend and chooses to use it saving the helpless like Batman (John 3:35)
- He can disappear like the Invisible Woman (Luke 24:31)
- He can move through walls like the Flash (John 20:19-26)
- He is from another world like Martian Manhunter (John 18:36)
- He commands the fish like Aquaman (John 21:1-6)
- He controls the wind like Storm (Mark 4:35-41)
- He can see the future (Matt 20:17)
- He can read minds like Professor X (Matt. 9:4)
- He goes into a rage and tears stuff up like Wolverine (Matt 21:12)
- He returns to life like Deadpool (John 20:1-17)
- He can walk across water (Matt 14:22), regenerate the dead (John 11:43-44), multiply tangible objects (Matt 14:13), summon angels (Matt 26:53), banish demons (Luke 8:26-34))… Shall I go on?
And perhaps most amazingly, He has the power to transfer His abilities to whoever He chooses to endow them with (Luke 9:1). He is all the things you want in a superhero, but with the restraint many of our comic inspirations lack. In a world obsessed with the supernatural and superhumans, may I present the demon-slaying, water-walking, mind-reading, immortal and all-powerful Jesus? The Bible has the greatest, most angst filled and character driven comic stories ever recorded, with the benefit that they are actually TRUE. And each of these are loaded with all the drama and emotion of real, flawed, every day people making very human decisions that still impact our world to this day. And in the grand finale, the One who stands at the division of BC and AD challenges you to compare Him to anyone, real or imagined, and find someone you would rather trust your life to. He stands alone at the top of the hill. Saving the world is his gig. Ready to assemble?
JESUS: THE ONLY TRUE IMMORTAL SUPER-HERO