Blue Beetle opened this weekend to a box office of XXXXXXX. It’s considered a decent opening for a small superhero movie. Which is bananas. Earlier this summer, The Flash bombed with $150 million. Even “bad” super-hero movies are making hundreds of millions of dollars.
Why do we love Superheroes so much? A number of comic lovers – writers, artists, scholars – have taken to talking about superheroes as modern mythology. That’s right – Iron Man and Captain America are latter day Athene and Apollo. Superman and Batman are contemporary incarnations of Zeus and Hades.
If you think that sounds silly, I get it. But I think that’s because we misunderstand the power of mythology. We most often think of myth as stories made up by primitive people who didn’t understand science. It’s raining and we don’t understand the water cycle or low-pressure systems, so it must be that Zeus is sad.
But just because ancient peoples didn’t understand the scientific method didn’t mean they were idiots. The ancient Greeks figured out the earth was round, and some of us still haven’t managed that.
The point is that myths are far more than just pre-scientific explanations for how the world worked. Myths are framing stories. They tell us who we are, what the world is like and what our relationship to each other is.?
Now think about the superheroes in the box office: the Flash. Batman. All the Marvel heroes, from Captain America to Iron Man to Spider-Man to the Marvels. Blue Beetle as of this weekend.
?They’re a billion dollar industry (especially when you count movies, TV, comics, toys, etc).
?And that should bother us because in the Superhero movies, nothing ever really changes. That’s on purpose – the creators want you to come back and buy next month’s issue, or go see the next movie coming out in a few months.
?But when the stories that shape who we are don’t transform us, when they keep us trapped in the way things are, when they uphold the status quo, maybe we need to demand better.
?Friends, I want to look at how the superhero stories we love fall short of the revolutionary, radical life God calls us to.