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The Gospel According to The Avengers

May 10, 2012

Superheroes are huge, and they have never been bigger.  The hit movie, The Avengers, gives us our most current evidence of the enormity of the popularity of superheroes.  The Avengers has already made $700 million worldwide, and the announcement of a sequel sparked Disney’s stock to climb two days ago while much of the rest of the market had a dismal day.

Why is it we love superheroes so much?  Personally, I have always been enamored with them.  I’m a sucker for any superhero movie.  I guess it was engrained in me through the Under-roos I wore as a kid.  Somehow, it must be true that the superhero craze reveals truths about us — our longings and our hopes.  What does it say?  What is the psychology of superheroes?  What is the spirituality of superheroes?

(1)  Superheroes allow us to be caught up in an epic story.  Good versus evil.  Savior versus villain.  The fate of the entire world hangs in the balance.  We long to be caught up in an epic story and to find ourselves a part of its narrative.

(2)  Superheroes reveal our strong desire for identification.  We long to be great ourselves, and when we can’t, we try to experience it vicariously.  We do this when we identify with others who are great.  In our society that is usually performers, celebrities, politicians, and athletes.  In movies, the figure that “saves” the day is often referred to as the “messiah” figure.  Ironic.

(3)  Superheroes bring out our own desire to be great and our fear of being average.  Why do kids pretend to have superpowers?  It’s because we all long to be someone special.  We fear blending in with the crowd.  This fear causes too many of us to seek attention, even when it is negative.  Watch an episode of Jerry Springer if you need a reference.  Nonetheless, our fear of being average leads us to hate ourselves and to kill ourselves trying to feel great.  It is at the heart of sin – remember, Adam and Eve wanted to be like God.

(4)  Superheroes remind us that we are all looking for a savior.  In the end, we long for someone who will save our lives, win the epic battle, and allow us identification.  This desire is at the heart of who we are.

Ultimately, we are enamored with superheroes because they touch on many of the themes that make up the core longings in the human heart.  They are the same themes as the ones present in God’s story of redemption through Christ.  Could it be that our longing for superheroes is really a displaced longing for a real savior?  Could it be that this longing is really for Jesus?  By faith, we identify with him and gain all of the accolades and rewards that belong to His supremacy because of His victory in the epic battle against sin, evil, and powers.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2012 9:39 am

    Great thoughts Nathan… Good stuff.

  2. Randy permalink
    May 10, 2012 1:00 pm

    Wonderful insight. Sometimes we might be better to teach our children bible history rather than tell them bible stories.

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