Our MARVELous Father: Part 1

*Have no fear, no spoilers for Endgame follow, this blog covers only up to Infinity War

Part 1: Why are we drawn to Superheroes?

If the recent box office earnings and critical reviews of Avengers: Endgame are of any indication, I think it is safe to say I am not alone in my love of Super Hero fiction. The concept of a superhero has become a cultural touchstone, one that in many ways is the modern equivalent to the myths of ancient Greece and Rome. Just like the legends of our forefathers, Superhero fiction features a dense canon of stories and characters retold over the course of more than a century by hundreds of different authors. Each author brings with them the cultural beliefs and societal struggles of their time and the ultimate result is that the characters in the stories become more than the vision of any one person. Hercules and Captain America, Hermes and the Flash, Thor and well… Thor, the parallels are everywhere.

The similarities don’t end with the characters and their creation but exist deep within the roots of how we are affected by the stories. Something that I heard from Father Mike Schmitz is that just like the heroes of ancient history, our modern heroes give us an inspiration and an aspiration. Larger than life characters like Superman and Captain America share with us hope: hope for a better world and hope to be saved from our troubles. Other more grounded characters like Iron Man, Hawkeye and Batman give us a (semi)-believable ideal to strive for, a faith that we can improve ourselves and the world around us.

Unfortunately, our fictional heroes fall short. Their promises of salvation give us permission to sit back, to not bother working for that very ideal that they inspire in us. There is inspiration, there is aspiration, but there is no invitation. That is where Jesus differs. As C.S. Lewis called it, our faith is the “True Myth.” Once more, Jesus surpasses and brings to fullness the aspects that we love within the myths of our comic books and movies. In Christ we find inspiration, he gives us hope for a better world, but also hope for eternal life after our life on Earth. In Him we are given a real ideal to aspire to, a faith that through His grace we can continually grow in holiness and faithfulness as we journey towards Sainthood. None of us could become Superman, but we can all become Saints. Moreover, in Jesus we find an invitation, and invitation of love. Our faith is not a passive one, one where we sit around, are saved, and then it is all good. No, our God is not a tyrant who chooses our end for us. He has won the war, but He as invited us to participate in His saving plan, to fight against Sin and temptation, to choose to love Him. Jesus is the way to the Father, but we must choose to go that way.

I believe that in any great story there is some degree of truth, goodness, and beauty. In Superhero stories we find parts of the truth, goodness, and beauty of our God, an incomplete image that invites us to shirk any actual responsibility for our actions. None the less, the image of a saviour is still there, and that resonates with us on a level often deeper than we are aware. The specific aspects of our God that are present vary from film to film, and that is why each one might impact us in a different way. So with that in mind, next week we will look at the MARVEL Cinematic Universe to see what images of God we can find.

Brian Krammer, Team 7