Last night, I found out that my youth leader follows comic books. I probably shouldn’t score people, but I do, so I have no shame in saying this was absolutely an instance where his points went up. Fantastic job, good sir.
We were talking about superheroes, and he brought up why he doesn’t like Superman (I’m not trying to start a rumble, Superman superfans. Just stating opinions over here). He said he thought DC had a god complex with their heroes, illustrated when Superman died and came back to life, and how he doesn’t really have weaknesses – he has a weakness (kryptonite [which just so happens to be only native to a dead planet]). Because of his strength, Superman became less interesting to him.
I understood, but the very fact that I understood struck me as ironic. I mean, the main reason that people are attracted to superheroes is that they are so much stronger than us. They can do the things we only dream of doing – they can fly, teleport, draw adamantium claws out of their fists (That’s not just me, is it? Who doesn’t want claws? Claws are fabulous.), and so on. But we don’t want them to be too strong. We want even our heroes to be flawed and messy.
Spider-man is one of the world’s most popular superheroes, and he could not be more different from Superman. No one thanks Spider-man for saving the day, he is consistently broke, and he is generally thought of as one of the criminals that he pursues. And yet, he is just as popular with readers as an invulnerable man from Krypton whom everyone loves.
[Excuse me while I take a rabbit trail that I promise applies] Ask any person why they enjoy the company of their friends, and one of the answers will definitely include the things that they have in common.
We love to identify with people. The joy of having someone know what you mean to say even when you can’t find the words to say it is fantastic.
Even with all the people in the world, we still tend to be surprised when we find someone who has something in common with us. And we adore it. Misery may love company, but so does happiness, so does love, and so do we.
We search for people who remind us of us. And we want our fictional heroes to be the same way. Obviously, not everyone has shrapnel trying every second to cut its way into their hearts, but we can still identify with many of Iron Man’s struggles. Most of us are not battling a past full of treachery, but we can still find a bit of us in the Black Widow. Not everyone of us is an orphan, but Batman still speaks to us in some small way.
Because they are broken.
Because we are broken.
Because no matter how much we try to improve upon ourselves, we will always have infirmities, and we want to see someone with our infirmities prove that we can overcome them. As the good book says,
“I am glad to boast in my weakness, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2nd Corinthians 12:9
People are ridiculously diverse, but we all have one thing in common – we are weak. Some of us fancy that we are weaker than some and stronger than others, but not a single one of us is perfect, every one of us is weak. If we weren’t, strength would be so much less marvelous. We would not find it spectacular that a drug addict turned her life around and got clean, or that a father returned to his abandoned family, or that a community banded together, despite their differences, and did something good.
Light shines brightest in the dark, and the strength God has given us is all the more remarkable in weakness.
We can be strong, not despite our weaknesses, but because of them.
So be strong, be dazzling, and be a superhero.
And have a nice day.
Disclaimer: Yes, I understand that nearly every superhero ever ever ever has died and come back to life. Hey, someone’s got to make money off of serial comic books, yeah?