There has been a mass fascination in Hollywood on the hero persona. Marvel and DC films are given virtually limitless production budgets with their box-office showings almost always assured a lucrative return. True, it seems this statement is: Heroes are larger than life.
But wait… What exactly is a hero? Is it an individual who wields great power, vanquishes his or his followers foes, and or woos the unsuspecting mistress (or in some cases masculine counterpart). It isn’t surprising to find heroism get it’s renewed place of fame on the silver screens of our present society.
Hero’s are some of the richest of literary roots to the storytelling game. Dating all the way back to some of the first known fictional writings, Gilgamesh represents a larger-than-life protagonist. Later stories from a multitude of nations and cultural personalities include similar examples such as the Hellenic god Zeus, the Norse god Odin, or the Old English poem’s savage warrior Beowulf.
These figures seem otherworldly with their singular prowess of not only confidence, but honor ultimately bestowed upon them by their future subordinates, regardless of their originating circumstances. More recent savior-depictions include the Earth-bound Kryptonian-born Kal-El, an alien sent to earth following the destruction of his world. Another major figure is known elusively as a night vigilante expertly trained in martial arts and driven by vengeance from the cruel murder of both of his wealthy parents.
Another modern hero figure receiving high praise is an unlikely patriot given the opportunity of extensive physical augmentation during the heat of the second World War. Yet another group of power-wielding individuals are the long and unpredicted result of human evolution, leading to person-specific super abilities enabling them to wield great harm or protection from those who would choose such.
All of these figures are vastly different, each with their own stories, most not asking for fame or glory for themselves. Yet the stories told of them are unveiled with great and elaborate detail, often including the historical origins of the culture preceding the lone-surviving individual representative of his/her race.
If the average person in western society were asked what a hero was, I suspect a contemplative answer would follow. A hero is a significant implication, just as King David was to the ancient Jews, king Richard was to the early English, or George Washington of Colonial America. Heroism represents something larger than anyone person, and something profound rests on the title. More qualities are given (even on the silver screen) to the hero figure than merely the strength of his right arm, his super power, or his place of origin. Honor is a characteristic that uniquely qualifies all would-be heroes, whether a royal throne, weapon of renown, or beautiful heroine is bestowed or not.
Yet, a hero represents more than merely a desire (whether selfish or selfless) to save others. A hero is a picture of the world in it’s ideal state. He/she endeavors to restore that moral decay that has slowly eroded wonder of life we all deep down know is true. A hero, by this description, may be thus by merely standing for the truth when all others are standing against it.
I write this during the season when the greatest hero ever to touch down on earth united a long-broken bridge from God-to-man. His name is Jesus. I write this following a very enjoyable experience reclining in front of the latest installment from the DC universe “Aquaman”. I will not dismiss qualities the film attributed to my identified picture of heroism, especially in light of the analogical capacity such films possess. Yet I was struck by the larger spectrum of the heroism film genre as it absorbs more profits than any other on the big screen.
Often the heroes of today are placed in dark, disillusioned environments where they must learn their place before before they save others. Even here, I find no severe break with the story of our ultimate eternal savior. According to the book of Luke (following His visit to the Temple asking remarkable questions of the Jewish priests and rabbis)
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.Luke 2:52 ESV
If lessons in life are how we grow, even how heroes ascend to their place to their proverbial throne, nothing is more clear than the picture of Jesus Himself recognizing humility before those in authority around Him until His appropriate time in glory. Ultimately, we know the lengths this particular hero went for those He loved…
All other modern hero depictions pale in comparison to Yahweh submitting to mankind. Yet even He Himself acknowledged a leader giving wind to His feet (this found in the context of Jesus making claims of His equality to God)…
So Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
John 5:19 ESV
If you have written off modern hero movies in light of the fact that they conflict with our true savior and long-prophesied messiah, this is a respectable stance. However, I continue to be impressed with the metaphorical qualities and contemplative statements cleverly given to these fictional characters. Imagination is still illuminating a legitimate picture of worthy of the gospel message, when a would-be hero commits to putting his/her life on the line. As is indicated by the apostle Paul in Romans…
but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 ESV
Heroes, at the very least, should be a beacon of hope. Jesus the Christ remains the pristine example ever to have graced the earthen ground in our human timeline.