RETRO: Why We Like Superheroes

(This post is a REPOST from my old MySpace blog, with some revisions, from 5:52 PM, July 19, 2006. Enjoy!)

So I keep thinking about my own boyish interest and fascination with superheroes, and about my sons definite interest in them. I remember my own interest in them as a boy, and it’s never quite gone away. I notice the overall interest and support of superheroes in our culture, from comic books to cartoons, to toys, to big dollar movies that make more big dollars at the box office, most recently Batman Begins, the third X-men movie and Superman Returns. Meanwhile, Spiderman 3 is already on the way. It’s mostly boys (and/or men), but there are even girls and women who take interest… but even the most uninterested woman or man knows such icons as Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. So why are we into superheroes? Here’s my thoughts, for whatever they’re worth:

1. Testosterone and Wild hearts Boys like to run, jump, shoot, rescue, hit, slash, and blow things up. So do men, if we’re honest (paintball, anyone?). I think it’s just the way God made us. John Eldredge in Wild at Heart was on to something when he said that us boys want a “battle to fight, a beauty to rescue, and an adventure to live.” (Conversely, he says, that the girls long to be fought for, to be rescued, and to share in an adventure). Well that just about sums it up, doesn’t it? We create superheroes and enjoy them because we like to see and be a part of the battles, the rescues, the adventures… ever seen a comic or a movie that doesnt have those things in it? And, we like to vicariously run, jump, fly, hit, slash, and blow things up….

2. I need a hero! Remember the Bonnie Tyler song from the 80’s? (Ok, some of you dont.) “I need a hero/I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night/He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast/and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.” I think Bonnie was singing about wanting to be romanced and swept away by a manly hero, but the sentiment is not lost in a much broader context. The truth is, the world is a messed up place– very messed up last time I checked! And we’d like someone to come and beat up the bad guys, correct the injustices, and help us live happily ever after! Seeing Spiderman catch the robbers and hang them in webbing from the street light, seeing Superman save the world (again) from hurtling meteors or alien invasion, or Batman punch (POW!) somebody out makes us feel good, that justice will be served, that there is hope for the world after all. In some way, we are all encouraged to be better citizens and do good ourselves because of our superhero role models. If only that were enough to really change the world….

3. The Real Enchilada! Through it all, it seems to me that we really DO need a hero, and that Spiderman (or pick another) is just a guy in tights that somebody plays on the big screen. Meanwhile, the Real Deal is here, and the world so often doesn’t even notice. Could it be that all our longings for a hero, a rescuer, are really just veiled spiritual cries of a fallen humanity for a Savior that can really save? In Superman Returns, the Man of Steel takes Lois Lane way up in the sky to “show her something.” (Now, Lois had previously written an article entitled “Why the World Doesnt Need a Superman.”) Superman says to Lois, “You keep saying that you don’t need a savior, but I hear them crying for one all the time” or something like that. Way to be profound, Super Dude! Yep, the reality is that the world IS pretty messed up, and so are our own hearts most of the time, and we really do desperately need a Savior, and cry out for one in a million direct and indirect ways. God is the Savior, the Hero, that we really need and long for, and the only one that can truly “save the world.” Jesus Christ is everything we could want in a Hero and more!!

I wrote a song a long time ago called “I Love Jesus” and one of the lines (pardon the bad grammar) was “This ain’t religious cliche/Cause Jesus saves my life everyday…” He’s the Hero! And I need Him all the time, every day, to keep saving me and helping keep things straight… and the cool thing is that we get to be “heroes” too!! But that’s another blog….

So why do I like Superheroes? Cause I like Jesus, that’s why. Stick that in your Batmobile!

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