Superhero movies are leaping over the box office competition in a single bound these days. Four of the 10 highest-grossing movies in 2014 were based on comic books, and 2015 looks to be more of the same.
One reason superhero movies have found a wide audience is because people are naturally intrigued by the battle between good and evil.
In this superhero-obsessed culture, the church has an opportunity to point to the grand story of One who came to rescue us and defeat the enemy—but not without a little bit of drama.
As Uncle Ben told Peter Parker, Spider-Man’s alter ego, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Hero movies, be they super or not, have been a Hollywood staple. “Stories about heroes have always worked,” explains X-Men producer Ralph Winter, “and we are in need of heroes today as much as ever.”
But 15 years ago, as X-Men was about to be released, no one had any idea Hollywood was on the precipice of a comic book movie explosion, says Winter. Before X-Men, the Superman films had come and gone and the latest Batman film had flopped. Moviegoers (and moviemakers) seemed turned off to comic adaptations.
“We were taking a giant risk with a $75 million movie based on a comic book,” says Winter. “Nearly everything else had failed.”
Winter says X-Men director Bryan Singer wanted to place the movie in the real world, our world. “They might be walking down the street in your metropolis,” Winter says. “That gave it urgency and credibility.”
The risk paid off, and X-Men was a hit. Other comic book movies followed suit. Spider-Man swung to the top of the box office. Batman was rebooted. And before you could say “kryptonite,” the movie theater looked more like a comic book store.
Along with the newfound ability to relate to viewers, X-Men taught comic book movies that followed how to go beyond the surface.
“The X-Men movies I worked on were always about great questions of life that continue to be asked no matter your age,” Winter explains. “Why are we here? What is my role? Do I fit in? Should I fit in?”
Sometimes superhero movies answer those questions in a way Christians can affirm, but regardless they ignite worthwhile explorations of what it means, ironically enough, to be human.
As we struggle with how to respond to ISIS beheading Christians in the Middle East, Batman struggles to understand where justice ends and revenge begins.
As we see our morality become increasingly counter cultural, the X-Men wrestle with being different in a world that values uniformity.
Sometimes we find it hard to understand what it means to love as Jesus loves, but we can see Superman touch on the ideas of self-sacrifice.
We often ask how our careers and abilities play into our Christian walk. And there is Spider-Man learning to use his gifts for the benefit of others.
But even beyond that, clear symbolism exists between the comic stories and the biblical story. Bible readers often see much in common when they pick up a comic.
Read the full story “Searching for a Savior: How Comic Book Movies Can Point to Christ” at FactsAndTrends.net.