I am amazed at the number of movies released in the past several decades that are about ‘superheroes.’ When I was a kid, I liked comic books and, admittedly, “Superman” was one of my favorites. There were a few other ‘superhero’ characters back then, but Superman was the biggie at that time. Now, there are more so-called ‘superheroes’ than I can possibly name. The movie studios produce these films to make a lot of money, but for that to happen there must be an audience willing to pay the ticket prices to see them.
The latest movie of this genre, “The Avengers: Infinity War-Part One,” grossed 640.9 million dollars in its first weekend; so, obviously, the audience is there. I reckon that, to those who pay to see them, ‘superhero movies’ can be highly entertaining, but why is that? What exactly is there about such movies that rate so much attention?
Let’s start by examining the theme of these films. They all have one or more characters that are depicted and described, not just as heroes, but as ‘superheroes,’ beings seemingly indestructible, capable of performing amazing feats that are way beyond the possibility of mere humans; so we need to dig a little deeper into that description to discover why they have such a draw.
Hero and Superhero Defined
What exactly is a hero? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘hero’ as: 1) a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability; 2) an illustrious warrior; 3) a person admired for achievements and noble qualities; and 4) one who shows great courage. The Dictionary goes on to define the term ‘superhero’ as a ‘fictional’ hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers, also: an exceptionally skillful or successful person.
I found it interesting that one of the differences between a ‘hero’ and a ‘superhero’ was the word ‘fictional’ used to define ‘superhero.’ Let’s keep going and define the word ‘fictional,’ since that’s a very important part of the definition of ‘superhero.’ Merriam-Webster defines ‘fictional’ as something invented by the imagination or feigned, specifically: an invented story.
So, a hero can be a mythological or legendary figure, like a person made of flesh and blood who showed amazing bravery and courage in certain cases that set him apart from the norm.
One such ‘legendary flesh and blood person’ was the actor Audie Murphy who, as a young soldier, earned more awards, medals and citations for his courage and bravery than any other American soldier during WWII. After the war ended, he went on to become a major movie star. Reading about his exploits during the war, I would certainly consider him to be a hero. His acts of bravery and displays of courage were truly legendary and real, not fictional.
Based on the definitions provided by Merriam-Webster, anyone who reveres or worships a ‘superhero’ is in fact setting an imaginary entity on a pedestal to be looked up to with awe, or possibly even worship and reverence. This also seems to be saying that anything ‘super’ is only imagined, and so it follows that anything ‘supernatural’ is also only imagined. If this were truly the case, why would so many people dedicate their lives, at least a part of them, to following these ‘imaginary characters’ in movies, books and film and even establishing ‘fan clubs’ dedicated to them?
I believe the fascination, even obsession in some cases, with superhero movies is an indication that the world is looking for something that goes far beyond the natural; something that cannot be explained or even grasped with our finite minds; something that is considered so awesome, so powerful that it must be revered and even worshipped to some extent. Not knowing where to find this in real life, the world succumbs to the deception of Hollywood’s phony superheroes.
The Glory of God
When God created Adam, He crowned him (Adam) with the glory that had previously been God’s alone. The psalmist said, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6).
The word ‘glory’ used here is the Hebrew word kabowd (Strong’s 3519, pronounced kaw-bode’), the same word used in many places in the Bible to describe the glory of God. However, the use of the word ‘angels’ in this scripture is an unfortunate translation of the original word ‘elohiym’ (Strong’s 430, pronounced el-o-heem’), and it is the word that means ‘the triune God,’ not angels.
The verse is actually stating that God created man a little lower than the Triune Godhead, but not lower than angels. This can be proven in the rest of the verse where it is said that God ‘put all things under his (man’s) feet,’ meaning that God, at creation, gave man dominion over the works of His hands. At no time did God ‘put all things’ under the feet of angels.
Adam had a ‘face to face fellowship’ with his creator; they walked together in the Edenic garden in the cool of the evening and enjoyed each other’s company. But, unfortunately, the glory with which God crowned Adam was lost when Adam sinned, and man has sought to get that glory back for nearly six thousand years. However, Adam and Eve, by their sin and rebellion against God, doomed the entire human race to lives without the glory that was once theirs. The loss of the glory with which God crowned His man also left man without the ability to closely commune with God, especially on a face-to- face basis.
After Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt, he was having a conversation with God and desired to see God’s glory. Recorded in Exodus we read: “And he (Moses) said, I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. And he (God) said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live” (Exodus 33:18-20).
Even Moses, to whom God entrusted the original tablets of law, could not see the face of God and survive.
Only after the rapture and the resurrection have occurred, when believers are living in their immortal, glorified bodies, as does Jesus, will a face-to-face meeting with God be possible. Now however, communion with God on a spiritual level can be restored through a personal experience with the Son of God, and only in a limited measure at that, certainly not face to face. At that time, the glory will be restored to all who are born again. It can hardly be imagined what our lives would have been like if the glory had not been removed from Adam and Eve due to their sin.
Seeking the Glory
Man still seeks the glory that Adam lost; but unless He has that relationship with God the Father through Jesus, His Son, all his efforts to get the glory back are futile. Yet man, in his infinite ignorance, rebellion and yes, stupidity, still searches for a way to get back that missing element that will satisfy him. But, not knowing or not believing that Jesus is the only way back to God and the missing glory, he still continues to believe that he can find the glory without accepting that Jesus is the only way. Jesus confirmed this during His ministry:
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Unbelieving man instead uses his imagination to conjure up his own ‘superhero,’ a ‘super person’ that he can place on a pedestal and give him or her the worship and honor that only belongs to God. Man is searching for something greater than himself, something to prove that superhuman acts are possible, that there really is a power much greater than that of mere mortal man.
Alas, the phony Hollywood superheroes provide only a temporary venture into the imaginary world of cinema where every seemingly superhuman act is either smoke and mirrors, or computer graphics ‘magic.’ This act of phony hero worship places a person in a precarious position in which Satan can bring deception and delusion into his life in order to control his mind, his thoughts and even his imagination.
If only the ‘superhero worshipper’ could realize that there really is a true, living superhero, a truly supernatural, real person whose documented exploits make him worthy of worship and reverence, he would gain far more than a hero to place on a pedestal; he would place himself on the path to regain the glory that once was given to humankind by God Himself. No matter how shiny and handsome, or how glossy and pretty the film studios make their imaginary superheroes look, they are still only imaginary and are totally incapable of doing even one small supernatural act!
On the other hand, Jesus, the real superhero, not only lived a perfect life without even once committing an act of sin, He laid down that perfect life, voluntarily sacrificing Himself by being crucified on a tree, the cruelest means of torture and death ever invented by the evil mind of devil or man. And this sacrifice was performed after Jesus was beaten and tortured far beyond any other man in history, without once complaining or screaming out words of hatred at His tormentors. He did this through a supernatural act of love for the human race.
After he died and was placed in a grave for three days and three nights, He then supernaturally took up His life, just as He had promised He would, and He became an immortal flesh and bone man, fully man, yet fully God, never again to suffer and die.
He displayed His supernatural abilities by walking through walls, proving that He is indeed a supernatural person, not bound by the natural laws of this earth. Finally, He ascended into heaven before the eyes of many, proving that He is not subject to the law of gravity.
Jesus of Nazareth, the true ‘superhero,’ a formerly flesh and blood man, now a flesh and bone immortal man, has entrusted to us, His “Body on the earth,” the delivery of the gospel, the ‘good news’ that, through the perfect work of redemption accomplished by His death and resurrection, the glory is available through the simple act of receiving Jesus as the Messiah, the Saviour of all mankind.
By this act of delivering The Word, The Way, The Truth and The Life, we can help a lost and dying world find the glory they have so earnestly been searching for – the glory of a real, not imaginary ‘Superhero,’ a man who sacrificed Himself so that anyone believing on Him could give up all the imaginary, film-studio-created phony superheroes who, like all the false gods before them, neither see, nor hear, nor breathe, nor can they provide the glory sought by man for the past six thousand years.
Unlike these phony ‘superheroes,’ Jesus is alive forevermore and is supernaturally able to live in the heart of any man; He does not exist only on a strip of film or in the pages of a book. The film studios spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create their fake superheroes and, through a complex and vast system, deliver them to all who are willing to pay the price to view them and the phony glory and fleeting entertainment they provide.
For our delivery system of the gospel, we only need to spread the Word; The Holy Spirit will take over from there to make it work, and the price of admission to see this amazing superhero has already been paid in full by the superhero Himself, Jesus!