I Got the Power
Sitting in the dark movie theater waiting for the post-credits scene, I struggled to put into words why the movie I had just seen was so unfulfilling. To be fair, as a summer blockbuster, superhero movie, it wasn't likely written to stir deep thoughts. It was slick, loud, funny, and the good guys won. Still, something about the experience bothered me. Like an itch in my brain I couldn't quite reach.
Movies about superheroes have been around since 1939, but it was only after the economic crisis of 2008 that they began to dominate the cinema. Interestingly, the popularity of comic books in the Great Depression mirrors the popularity of superhero movies today. I began to ponder whether the popularity of superheroes rose in relation to the perception of powerlessness in the population.
For the most part superhero movies have clear good guys and bad guys. The good guys fight for justice and the underdog (sometimes the superhero IS Underdog!). They engage their superpowers to fight for normal citizens. In the real world, people feel increasingly vulnerable. Economic unrest, the proliferation of violent crime, a global pandemic, wars and rumors of war, and record rates of loneliness combine to convince us that we are at risk and helpless to do much about it. Superhero movies give people hope.
But, is it real hope? Or at least helpful? And are we truly powerless?
First, let me be clear that I'm not hear to rag on superhero movies. They aren't the problem. And they're likely not the solution.
The Apostle Peter makes an astonishing claim in his second letter when he says, "[God's] divine power has bestowed on us everything necessary for life and godliness ... so that by means of what was promised you may become partakers of the divine nature ... (2 Peter 1:3-4 NET)