I have had a deep love for superheroes since I was a little boy. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my grandma taking my cousins and me to the local comic book store on Saturday mornings. It was there that we discovered a universe previously unknown to us and were introduced to most of the superheroes that are now very popular today.
We would spend hours reading comic books, and more hours playing outside pretending to be some of our new favorite characters. Superheroes like Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor and of course my personal favorite, Wolverine. I remember hoping and praying every day that somehow, I would discover that I had developed a superpower that would allow me to attend Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and eventually become a part of the X-Men.
I assumed though, that as I got older, superheroes would eventually fade out, and a love, desire, or longing for something else would take its place but it never really happened. Yes, as I got older, I stopped playing with all my superhero action figures. My cousins and I no longer spent time pretending to be our favorite heroes in the backyard.
Eventually, the trips with grandma changed from comic book stores to Foot Locker at the mall. But my love never went away, and it took me a long time to understand why. It wasn’t until years later and many trips to the theater that it finally hit me.
On July 14, 2000 20th Century Fox released “X-Men”. This movie brought my childhood to life on the big screen and eventually introduced all of us to what we now know as Marvel Studios. Over the past 19 years, 47 Marvel movies have been released with plenty more on the way. These movies have introduced the world to heroes like Spider-Man, The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Panther, and so many more.
These movies have shattered all expectations and continue to set box office records while making billions of dollars. Today, viewers are so in love with these movies that they will stay and watch all the end credits of a movie in hopes of seeing an extra 30 second clip at the end.
What is it about these movies that have captured the attention and heart of so many people? We all know that not every single Marvel movie made has been good. In fact, with love, I would say, that some have just been awful. Not to mention that all of them are practically the exact same story-line with the same ending or outcome:
The everyday ordinary main character somehow finds themselves with unique abilities.
Once they discover how to control and use these unique abilities, they use them to help those in need.
They gain a new identity and want to do good by fighting and trying to defeat evil.
Just when you think all hope is lost, the superhero prevails and conquers evil to save the world.
We know it is not the quality of the movie that draws people. We know it is not some new, never heard story-line we will encounter. We even know how the movie is going to end!
So why? Why are these movies so popular today? Why is it also that these theaters are not just filled with comic book loving nerds like myself who grew up already loving this stuff and are just re-living childhood dreams?
We instead find theaters filled with crowds that transcend gender, age, race, religion and socioeconomic status that are all in love with Marvel’s superheroes.
We all long to see evil crushed by a power that is beyond us and that we know will rescue us! I believe what we are seeing in these packed theaters is that mankind is drawn to this need of a savior and hope for redemption. A savior, or hero is:
More than just human.
Restoring hope to the hopeless.
Fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves.
Powerful enough to bring justice and defeat evil.
Doing what is right even if other people doubt.
Going to save the world.
I believe that the fantasy world of superheroes Marvel has created, is acting as a window to the soul of humanity. To prove this point, H. Michael Brewer said, “Our longing for superheroes points toward a need for a hero that can only be fulfilled in Christ.
The spiritual hunger for heroes is woven into the fabric of the human creature. Our Maker (God) built us with a persistent longing for a rescuer who will save us from injustice and suffering.” The Gospel is the story of Jesus Christ. It is about Jesus:
Becoming human but more than just human.
Bringing hope into a broken and hopeless world.
Fighting for and defending those whom He loves.
Being powerful enough to bring justice and to defeat sin and death.
Doing what was right and what is needed even if people doubt Him.
It is the story of how Jesus came and saved the world!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest rescue mission that has ever been attempted and succeeded. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection defeated sin and death. It is only because of what Jesus (our superhero) did that the world is saved.
You see our hearts cry out for a savior.
I am not saying that Marvel or superheroes and the Bible or Jesus are one in the same. But what I am saying is that the world is crying out for a savior. Our hearts long to experience the reality of a savior, but we find ourselves settling for the temporary found in the fantasy world of Marvel. But the truth is, there is a Savior. His name is Jesus Christ.
Everything you are searching and longing to experience while sitting in a reclined movie theater chair can and will be found in His name!
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” - John 3:16-17
Russ joined the staff team in 2015 as the Director of Student Ministry.
Prior to joining Orchard Hill, Russ worked for 6 years as an Area Director for Young Life on the eastern shore of Maryland. Russ received his undergraduate degree from the University of Toledo.
Russ and his wife, Lyndsay, live in McCandless with their 4 children, Peyton, Addison, Bennett and Avery.