All great superheroes are, at least in part, images of Christ. Their stories are the retelling of the greatest story ever told. When they save those in danger, it is a picture of Jesus’ atoning work on the cross. Their sacrifice is a mirror of His sacrifice. Their struggle with their calling or their destiny is His struggle in the Garden of Gethsemane. Their lonliness in the time of trial is His lonliness when all the disciples abandoned Him and when even the Father turned His back on the Son (Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani ~ My God, My God, why have You foresaken me?)
I’m not saying that the creators of comic book superheroes set out to write about Christ. Far from it. I just don’t think they can help it. THE story of love and sacrifice and salvation belongs to Christ. There’s simply no way to improve upon it. Every story of its kind is but an echo of the original.
When you start to pay close attention, you’ll notice images of Christ in just about every superhero story. Take for example the latest Fantastic Four movie – not an easy match up when you think about it. It has four heroes, and they have powers Jesus never exhibited, e.g., the ability to stretch long distances (which you might think I’m doing with this article, but stick with me).
Here are the parallels as I see it. (Spoiler alert) The story is about a team of heroes who help save the world. They fight against a villain is was raised from the dead (like Antichrist will be), and one of them has to give her life as a sacrifice. (Notice, I’m not digging so deep as to mention that one could fly, one could turn invisible and one was a Rock – or am I?)
But the surprise of the movie is that the most Christ-like figure is the Silver Surfer – starting after he becomes a good guy, of course. Not only does he restore the life of the dead superhero, but he also gives his own life to save the entire world. And what’s most interesting is how he does it. If you watch the Silver Surfer as he charges into the evil, world destroyer, you’ll notice that right before the two meet, he stands up and stretches his arms wide (like Christ on the cross – thanks to my son for pointing this out). From this stance, his power is greatest, and he overcomes the enemy. Right before the movie closes, we see that the Silver Surfer lives again (he’s great spin-off material, you understand).
But to me, the greatest Christ-figure in all of comic-bookdom is Superman. You almost have to believe that his creator (Joe Shuster) was thinking of Jesus when he came up with the idea. Consider these similarities:
- Not from this earth
- Sent to earth by his father to save mankind
- Possesses supernatural powers
- Chooses to take on the appearance of a normal man
- Restrains himself from using his powers except to help
- Tells stories with pictures (as a photographer)
- Loves an earthly “bride” who struggles to understand who he really is
- Fights against an evil villain bent on ruling the world
- Sacrifices his life to save humanity
- Comes back from the dead
God’s love story is inescapable. It’s the most romantic story ever told, and He buried it deeply in our hearts. When a story of sacrifice and salvation resonnates with you, it’s because the person who created the story was borrowing from the Great Storyteller. The story that cries out to be released from the writer’s heart is the one that God has been telling for all of time. Recognize it for what it is, and respond to it. Become part of the story.