Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Flame On!

This is from Brian Godawa's movie blog, which is far and away the most thoughtful and interesting source for movie reviews from a Christian world view. He reviews the Fantastic Four.

More interesting, though, are his thoughts on the role of superheroes in our community consciousness. Quote!

"It is interesting that in FF, Johnny Storm muses that their powers are “a higher calling,” that “fate turned us into gods.” So there is an explicit metaphoric likening to deities that is recognized in the film itself. I am not making this up in my mad little mind. Just a cursory comparison of superheros with pagan deities will give you a taste of the likenesses.

Human torch – Vulcan, Roman god of fire
Be Grimm, The Hulk – Mars, Roman god of war
Superman – Hercules
The Flash – Mercury, Roman messenger god of speed
Aquaman, The SubMariner – Neptune, god of the sea

Of course, I am not suggesting a one to one correspondence, but merely a common paradigm of exalted humanity that replaces the One true God with many gods, a common impulse since the Fall. My point: Superheros have a tendency to operate as secular god substitutes in a postmodern pluralistic culture. They give us hope, they save us from evil, they provide an example of virtue and illustrate for us what we could be. Every system has an ultimate reference point and that ultimate reference point or standard is the deity of the system. The deity of pluralism is polytheism. Pluralism means “many truths,” which means, “many gods.” Having said all this, I am not condemning all superhero stories. I may be missing what separates the two mythologies. I am simply wrestling with thoughts that are creeping up in my mind as I interact with these myths and think them through. One fine example is The Incredibles, where I see superpowers, not as a secular god substitute, but as an obvious metaphor of the potential for extraordinariness and uniqueness of each individual. Maybe that’s not all that different from Fantastic Four. I’m not sure. Still thinking it through."

Which reminds me of a quote for Potent Quotables (see above).