But today, after watching The Dark Knight Rises, I had another thought. I love the fact that superheroes are willing to risk their lives for the masses. Not just one person. Yes, Superman had to save Lois Lane several times. Spiderman rescued Mary Jane from the clutches of a couple of baddies. But they also fought for whole city populations, willing to die in order to save these people from destruction. (One of my favorite scenes from the Spiderman trilogy is when he rescues the train.) And in the third Batman movie, there is no one person Bruce Wayne is called to save. He is compelled out of self-imposed exile to fight an evil that threatens his city, his people. He suffers hatred from the law who think him a criminal, abandonment from his oldest friend, betrayal from new acquaintances he has come to trust, abuse from the true criminals. And in the end, he willingly sacrifices himself for all of these people.
Does that remind you of anyone else?
Now, I'll be the first one to say that many times Christians will overlay their faith in places it was never meant to be applied. And I'm fairly certain the writers of comic books and the subsequent screen writers of super hero movies don't have Jesus Christ's crucifixion as their muse. But whether they intend to or not, these superheroes' sacrificial giving to save the world (or at least the city) are pictures of what Jesus did for us in truth.
I once read a book by John Eldridge, in which he theorized that the reason we love these types of stories is because at our very essence we know we need to be rescued. We know we live in a broken world where evil abounds and we can not save ourselves. So even in our secular culture, we create heroes, people better and more powerful than us, who can supernaturally stand between us and the evil that threatens. Unfortunately, we call it fantasy and say it couldn't happen in reality.
But it already has. Christ came to earth, showed his miraculous powers, and healed the hurting. He was ostracized by the established rulers, abandoned by some of his dearest friends, betrayed by another, and in the end was sacrificed for no crime of his own. He did all of this to save us. And here is where fiction and truth split. Our salvation requires something of us...faith. Christ offers it freely, but we must accept it. And in doing so, we become part of the story. We become the redeemed, the chosen who have the glorious honor of sharing this great news with others.
So I will continue to enjoy movies, superheroes especially. Do I seek out spiritual truths in them? No. But sometimes the parallels are so obvious, even I have to say, "Wow, that's sort of like what Jesus did for me." And really, if something secular can bring to mind Christ, isn't that a wonderful thing?