Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Virtue of Superman

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about the superhero, Batman. I explained how this character has always fascinated me (and many others for that matter). I also talked about Aristotle's Golden Mean. At the end of the blog I made mention of how Batman (because of his vulnerability), seems to be more virtuous than a character like Superman (who is virtually invicible). However, I was reminded of the appeal of Superman after watching the latest Superman movie, Superman Returns.

Batman's virtue is seen as a result of his courage, but Superman's virtue is of a different sort. His virtue is not found in the overcoming of fear, but in the responsible use of great power. Batman is a human who fights for justice on the behalf of humanity, but Superman has abilities that set him apart as more powerful than humans... a guardian of humanity. He is virtuous because he chooses to be a guardian, and not a tyrant.

Maybe this is a stretch, but I do see parallels with Jesus here. What is it about Jesus that allows me to identify with him? I don't think I can grasp what it's like to be sinless or what it's like to be wholly divine like Jesus, so what is it? The moment in scripture that allows me to most identify with Jesus Christ is the temptation in the desert. At this moment I'm given a glimpse of the human Jesus.

Superman, like Jesus, has an incredible responsibility to humanity, which I cannot really relate to. However, I can relate to their struggle with temptation (even if it's on a different level). My respect for this character, Superman, and this wholly divine man, Jesus, is not a result of my awe of their "superpowers." I respect them because of their strength of character, their sense of duty, and their moral integrity.

This is what makes martyrs' stories so powerful and long-lasting... It's not that these people were superhuman or had incredible human powers, but that they had strong moral convictions that they held even until death. Jesus understood this... He knew his power would be realized in his death more so than in the miracles performed during his life (hence why he down-played his miracles). Maybe, I'm way off track here, but I'm sure if I am, someone will tell me about it in the comments.

I leave you with an excerpt from Superman Returns...

[Superman is remembering Jor-El's last message to him from the first film]--- "Live as one of them, Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed. Always hold in your heart the pride of your special heritage. They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you... my only son."

[Disclaimer: As I was searching for quotes from the Superman movie, I came across an article that highlighted parallels between Jesus and Superman. However, when I wrote this blog, this idea was original to me.]


Blogger Melinda said...

You could totally sell that post/idea to about 67 youth pastors.

Also, the Lewis quotation at the end of your quotes list -- by far one of my favourites of his.

ok. ppeace out.

4:04 p.m.  

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