Very Human Superheros

May 9, 2012

“It’s funny to me that in a world of flying aircraft carriers, lightning bolts, and rage monsters, we nonetheless tell stories about frail and broken people. Yet that’s the core of The Avengers, and of the whole superhero genre generally: Superman is an orphan displaced. Batman, too, is an orphan, a mere human with an obsession with justice lost. Spiderman is haunted by his failure to save Uncle Ben. The heroes we invent all have a flaw weaved into their fabric, which makes their lives more believable and their victories more spectacular.

Their superpowers allow our heroes to present a veneer to the world. The Black Widow’s cold exterior belies an obsessed interior world, keeping tabs on her debts and trying to reconcile with her past. Tony Stark’s ego and fearlessness mask his guilt. Captain America is a man displaced, plagued with the loss of his entire world.

In the strange world of the Bible, we know that weakness comes before strength. The mustard seed becomes the mighty tree. The shepherd becomes the king. God himself becomes a baby, suffers in every way like us, and dies a criminal’s death, yet that death becomes the catalyst to the liberation of countless captives of sin.”


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