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Superheroes And Deities


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I think this is the right forum for this discussion (?).

 

I was watching the new Superman trailer, and thinking about what I know about the 'history' of Superman (Alien advanced background, etc..) then I was thinking about other superheroes and how there is always something that makes them 'better' than the rest of us..it's usually some sort of mix between a mutation of some sort (evolution?) and also a 'wounded healer' mentality. Then I was thinking that the demigods and heroes of old (a la Hercules, etc...) are pretty much identical. (which would make Homers work the first comic books  lol)

 

The distinction between a 'superhero' and us is of course their ability to fight evil, and their desire to do so. Since it seems a recurring theme in mythology (and modern 'mythology' too.. go to any ComicCon or Superhero movie, it's HUGE) I'm sort of thinking that it's related to our need or desire to have a 'savior' of some sort, if even in fantasy (Rambo would also fit this genre, unfortunately).

 

We create these things... it seems we always have... only now we realize that they are just fantasy...an expression of the collective mentality...  and they have evolved from 'sons of a god' to evolutionary mutations (x-men, etc..) I think it's fascinating to see this evolution in our creation of these 'saviors'. The appeal of things like WOW, Call of Duty, X-Men, Batman, etc.. is very telling on our collective psyche. Even more interesting is the 'villain' as hero... ie: the shift of vampires, or characters like Riddick, and other 'monsters' in popular culture to become heroes as well. It's like there is a recognition of the 'grays' in human nature and that the 'monsters' in us aren't always as they appear.. a blurring of the dichotomy between light and dark, good and evil, (think.. The Crow, or Spawn).

 

To tie this in with christianity... doesn't jesus sort of fill the role of superhero? However.. compared to these others he's kind of falling short these days... but isn't the actions of a superhero what people really want from their deity(superhero?) think of they way some christians talk about jesus... the militant language.. the fight against evil.. etc..

 

I'd be interested to hear any other thoughts on this subject.  :)

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Guest Babylonian Dream

He does ride in at the end on a horse to fight and destroy evil at the final battle of Armageddon. You're spot on about heros and demigods.

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I've said something similar before regarding humanity's nature of creating gods.

 

 

Hercules -> Samson ->  Superman ->  Mr. Incredible

 

 

Horus -> Mithras -> Jesus Christ -> D&D Cleric (and also the lich)

 

 

Fighting crime/evil makes them the hero.  If they won't do that then their powers make them corrupt and they become the antagonist to oppose the heros.  Every comic book and god needs a villain.

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He does ride in at the end on a horse to fight and destroy evil at the final battle of Armageddon. You're spot on about heros and demigods.

 

Amen, Brother! Kryasst is gonna ride his Sky Horse down from the Sky Kingdom to kick the Talking Snake's ass for good! Glory!

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The Lard Jesus is my kind of superhero! He scores well on Lord Raglan's hero scale:

 

http://department.monm.edu/classics/Courses/Clas230/MythDocuments/HeroPattern/JesusPattern.htm

 

Glory!

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The main difference between Jesus and other superheroes, is, according to the story, Jesus created evil so he would have enemies to fight and destroy. The others, the evil enemies were already there.

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The big question is, why does the world keep inventing saviour types. There has to be a logical reason.

 

I think it is because people want a person or people who are not corrupt and will always help those in need to save the defenseless and the poor from corrupt politicians/wealthy corporation owners and violent criminals.

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The big question is, why does the world keep inventing saviour types. There has to be a logical reason.

 

I think it is because people want a person or people who are not corrupt and will always help those in need to save the defenseless and the poor from corrupt politicians/wealthy corporation owners and violent criminals.

 

 

That's why I love Hercules (as played by Kevin Sorbo in the 90's TV series) :)

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Now to use my geek powers:

 

Superman's creators (Siegal and Schuster) were Jewish, but secular. There has been much written comparing Superman to the messiah, though who knows if that was their intent (they denied it anyway). Originally they wrote him in a short story as a version of Nietzsche's superman (he was scientifically enhanced and he wreaked havok before he was finally beaten). As Hitler rose to power, referring to himself as a Nietzschian superman, they reimagined him as a hero who protected, instead of dominated, the weak.

 

You can definitely see a lot of parallels with the messiah story. He is sent by his father as a baby to ultimately save humanity, his power is practically boundless but he resists any temptation to use it for evil, his rocket ship is reminiscent of Moses' basket in the Nile, etc. But as I said, they denied any overt religious influence. It was probably more subconscious, if anything. I think what is probably more relevant to Siegal and Schuster is the fact that Superman is an immigrant who chooses to uphold American ideals.

 

More to your point, I agree that superheroes are modern mythology. And like classic mythology, they often borrow from older mythology.

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Damn. This even ties into what I just posted about Michael Jackson and our need to believe that he was just a good, loving boy-man, not a fucked up pedophile!

 

And yes, be it "white and black cowboy hats" or the bible, most people need their villains/devils and heroes/deities carefully separated and easily identified. I think that's a major reason why the superhero market has boomed in the post-9/11 years. In a world where you can't clearly tell who is the "bad guy" and what it is we're fighting for, much less how it can be "good guys" doing all this bombing and torture, it's reassuring to at least pick up a comic or watch a movie where you know that the handsome white guy with the American flag is the one to always root for. 

 

Taking a mythology class and reading a bunch of Joseph Campbell was the active beginning of my deconversion, actually. Ravenstar, if you're interested in these ideas, look for The Power of Myth lectures on YouTube or iTunes. Academically, there are some problems and over-generalizations in Campbell's approach, but there is a lot of value in the way he shows a trajectory of similar patterns in a variety of cultures, as related to human/sociological needs. 

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Mythology, archetypes and symbolism has always fascinated me.. I think these things are more the meat and potatoes of how humanity works than anything else. I will check out the series for sure

 

One thing.. I did mention how the superhero is changing... that they don't seem to need to be absolutely 'white hat' anymore. I think that is significant.. they seem more..umm.. human, and in some cases even monstrous, yet also human.

 

(ps... Watch Gene Kelly dance... Oh my! Now that is poetry in motion!  Him and Astaire defy gravity)

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Guest Babylonian Dream

The big question is, why does the world keep inventing saviour types. There has to be a logical reason.

Because originally, we were a tribal society. Tribal societies being led by a strong warriortype men, whom, every now and then, would be up against a bigger, stronger opponent. Also, knowing that its possible to achieve fame and glory, young men in those tribes would strive to be heros, so that they might achieve "imperishable fame", and become themselves heros. That's my theory anyway. There's a evolutionary incentive for having such a concept, at least amongst humans.

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I gotta tell you Ravenstar, I'm still chomping at the bit to see a continuation of the Chronicles of Riddick. They haven't gone beyond him taking the Necromonger throne yet have they? I haven't seen it if they have. I love the new mythological angle in these sci-fi's and what not.

 

It's all becoming much more humanistic and realistic the way that old fashioned black and white is turning to shades of grey. And it's probably due to our evolving as you suggest. Things are rarely cut and dry black and white in real life. And I think that the false dichotomy has less appeal now. 

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So in 10,000 years maybe archeologists will think we worshipped Superman.  I mean, absent any context that name could just as well be 'god'.

 

I want to believe this is what is going to happen!

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Josh,

 

I've been waiting for that myself!!!!   I loved the Chronicles of Riddick... I think it was highly underrated. Pitch Black is one of my favorite movies too. That last scene where she gets taken away by the creatures and he says 'Not for me!'... pure gold. Sad how Jack died, but poignant.

 

He's definitely an 'anti-hero'... very complicated character.

 

Hell-Boy was another that I really enjoyed.

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