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Men In Capes: Why We Love Superheroes

Date recorded: 24 May 2011 | Speaker: Mark Meynell | Event: ELF Workshop
Men in capes: Why we love superheroes


Every summer seems to bring with it the latest blockbuster comic book film adaptation. Their popularity does not seem to be on the wane – and this cannot simply be dismissed as the product of saturation marketing and ever more impressive special effects. Ever since their emergence on to American newsstands in the 1930s, superheroes (such as Superman, Batman, the X-Men and more recently, the television series "Heroes") have been a source of fascination as well as aspiration for each successive generation. This presumably explains why the most popular like Superman and Batman find themselves revived every decade or so on the small and big screens. Such popularity is revealing, however. For in their different ways, each character depicts varying diagnoses and solutions to the state of the world. While there is a wide variety of storyline and characterisation, there are commonalities. Each superhero is faced with his or her own nemesis or Herculean challenge: these illustrate human helplessness. In and of ourselves, the human race is no match for the irrationality of evil or the power of natural catastrophe. But the whole point is that superheroes are able to overcome them for us, through us, or despite us. This has crucial theological resonances for those who believe the good news of Jesus Christ, especially in the areas of Christology and soteriology. This session considers the bridges offered by the mythical world of the superhero to those who want to communicate the wonders of the true hero of all heroes.