Pop Culture Watch: Super-Heros & Religious Faith

If you’ve ever wondered about the impact of religion on pop culture, check out this directory of the religious affiliation of super-heros. Leo Partible, comic expert from Infuze magazine, has contributed to this and tipped me off.

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  1. This is an excellent site! I’ve been into comic books since I was little. I knew about some of the superheroe’s religious affiliation, but there were many I didn’t know about. There was this one episode of X-Men (original cartoon) somewhere between 1993-1995 where Wolverine first meets NightCrawler at a church. Wolverine had to help protect him and while they spent time together, they talked about their faith. Wolverine was big on not believing but by the end of the episode, Wolverine had knelt down at the alter, in the church and seemed to be praying to God. It was the most amazing moment for me – I kept saying, “did I just see what I think I saw?”

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers

  2. I remember an episode of the Simpsons where Homer gets stuck in a draw bridge and there is no one to save him. He begins like he’s going to pray but instead of calling on God for help, he calls on “Superman!” Of course who is no where to be found.

    On a slightly different, more serious note… when 9-11 happened, it’s reported that a little boy turned to his mother, after he found out and said, “Mommy, where was Superman?”

    The fictional Clark Kent was raised in a seemingly Christian home (at least reference of this fact is seen in the first Superman movie) and we know that there are many Christ-like parallels between the character of Superman and the Person of Jesus Christ.

    In Superman Returns, Lois writes the article, “Why the World Doesn’t Need a Savior.” Sometimes we wonder where God is and why doesn’t He intervene… at least like we want Him to intervene. Sometimes we may think “Why we don’t need a Savior” and just try to adapt and adjust down to the negative things that happen in the world. We end up focusing on mere survival instead of living out a thriving, abundant life.

    But even if Superman were real… and growing up I wished he was… (to a rather extreme degree which you can read about on my blog site)… we would still need a SAVIOR because Superman may be able to save us from physical peril… but as in the comic book storyline from a couple of years ago when Superman has dealings with the Priest (from the picture next to the title of this thread-post) he comes to the realization that he cannot stop war on the earth… because the greatest war happens in our hearts – and he is powerless to change our fallen heart condition. The man who can bend steel with his bare hands and stand at the center of the sun, can’t remove sin and reshape and remake the human heart.

    This sounds like James to me:
    “Why do you fight and argue with each other? Isn’t it because you are full of selfish desires that fight to control your body? You want soemthing you don’t have, and you will do anything to get it. You will even kill! But you still cannot get what you want, and you won’t get it by fighting and arguing. YOu should pray for it. Yet even when you do pray, your prayers are not answered, because you pray just for selfish reasons.” (James 4:1-3 CEV)

    Only Jesus can save us from the peril that truly matters on an eternal scale… and He also has the power to save us from any physical turmoil if it serves His ultimate purpose.

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers

  3. I guess no one who reads this site is into comic book superheroes… but me. But that’s alright. I am no longer ashamed! 🙂 That’s right, I’m a 32 year old man who still watches cartoons and reads comic books… I occasionally watch Power Rangers too – but alas I have said too much. LOL
    Considering that men and women my age, and slightly younger actually draw and write the comics that I read, I shouldn’t feel bad.
    It has always struck me how you can use a comic to get truth across (and lies as well. More on this another time.) Reading and watching comics/cartoons aslo helps me get into the minds of their creators and to see what it is they believe. What we truly believe characterizes and color everything we do – even if it’s only on a minute level. As a Christian, once I am done looking at the cool art and engaging storyline to find out the fate of my favorite characters… I take out my “biblical world-view lens” and look for something deeper on a spiritual and societal level. “How does anything in this story relate to my faith?” “How does my faith walk with God relate to what I’m reading?” “Or does it not?” “What truth is being conveyed that correlates with the scriptures?” “what commentary does this present about society?” “What does the bible say about this commentary?” “What responsibility must I respond to?”
    If I find none, the comics go back on the shelf and the channel is changed. On another note, the comic book industry seems to love taking passages from the bible and runing off on their own tangent story arcs. (Some good and some bad.) It would seem that more conversation about God and religion takes place among the pages of comic books than it does in other “more open” arenas. Whether or not a reader agrees with the propositions presented is another issue. I hope this doesn’t change. God has a plan and a purpose for comic books and cartoons.

    Allen Paul Weaver III
    author, Transition: Breaking Through the Barriers

  4. You're not alone Allen. A college friend got me into comics years ago. Even though
    I can't afford to collect all my favorites I, like you, appreciate the spiritual aspect. I guess a comic writer has only religion and the scriptures to pull from to really understand how to approach the superhuman/immortal. I find it interesting after 9/11 the explosion of superhero movies that have come along with the Passions. If you haven't had a chance yet, I suggest you watch the recently released to DVD Donner Cut of Superman II. I think this original unused version shows the true intent continuing from the first movie where you may find, as I did, that Superman isn't the Savior/Messiah but the Prodigal's Son in need of redemption.

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