The new Superman v. Batman movie did great at the box office, though not so well with the critics. This movie shows yet, again, that comic book and superheroes are all the rage.
So who is your favorite superhero? Growing up, Superman was my favorite. I relished seeing the Man of Steel fight for “Truth, Justice and the American Way,” in fighting evil. As I have grown, I have come to prefer Batman slightly over Superman. If, for no other reason, I am amazed and impressed that the Dark Knight can fight crime, even though he has no superpowers like others, including Spider-Man, Superman or the X-Men.
My children, especially my son, also enjoy superheroes. There are at least three things I try to teach my children—and reminder myself of—when it comes to enjoying superheroes.
1. They’re cool but pretend
Some Christians, especially those of a fundamentalist perspective, do not like the superhero genre whatsoever. To some extent, I understand the hesitation and desire to teach our children about reality and truth, as well as avoid idolatry.
At the same time, childhood is partly about learning between what is real and what is make believe and finding inspiration toward action and virtue. Consider this analogy. Thinking about magic, the Bible very clearly prohibits the use of magic, especially divination (see Deut. 18 and Exodus 22). Many Christians, however, find inspiration and truth from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, which has magic in it.
The key distinction in Lewis is that he draws distinction between real magic versus make-believe magic. Also in Narnia, magic is not something to trifle with or master (like it is at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry). Magic is something to be feared and learn to make you more obedient to the Divine.
While a committed fundamentalist never will fully embrace superheroes or works like the Narnia series, he or she at least owes fans the dignity of not lumping these works with truly harmful secular fantasy genre. Be that as it may, we must remind kids that superheroes like Batman are pretend.
2. Real heroes are more important
What would it profit a young boy to know all about the Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman, if he knows nothing of Alvin York, Paul Revere and Alfred the Great? In other words, if we allow our children and ourselves to delve only into pretend heroes to the exclusion of real-life ones, we have done a disservice to them and ourselves.
Apart from getting on an airplane or aircraft, none of us will fly around like Hawkman. Many of us, however, may be called on to serve our country in war, protect someone weak or fight back a bad guy or terrorist. To the extent that revering heroes draws you to godly virtues and bravery, they are a very good thing.
3. Only Christ has all power
I am writing this at Eastertime, when we celebrate the life, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is the real Hero and Super Hero, so to speak. During His earthly ministry, Jesus performed miracles, not because of Krypton heritage but because of the power of God.
Jesus rose from the grave, because He alone has the power to “lay down his life and take it up again” (John 10). He alone controls the forces of nature and the supernatural, and holds the keys to life and everlasting life.
While it sure would be cool to fly like Superman, the only real comfort in this life is to know I can be with Jesus when I’ll fly away when this life is over.