One of my favorite things to do is write short essays on life. Here’s my most recent thought path.
One night, a few weeks ago, we decided to go see the new Captain America film. After adding in lots of friends, we had a group of over twenty people – sitting in the theater as the room went dark and the film began. Later on that week, I discovered more people who had gone to see The Winter Soldier on opening night. For three consecutive weekends, The Winter Soldier ranked number one at the box office, going on to become the top-grossing film of April, 2014. And I got to thinking. Just what was it about the Marvel films Captain America or The Avengers that pulled in people?
In our day and age, the dystopian genre predominates our film, music, and literature. The bookshelves and movie screens are full of despair and oppression. In most of these, the world has fallen apart, and the people who survive are the ones who take no prisoners. The message is clear in the dystopian world. Man is evil, loyalty and patriotism mean nothing, and you must be willing to do anything to survive. And when you reach the end of these books and movies, you are left with a feeling of despair. There is nothing in the world to hope for, there is no redemption. We are useless pieces and we must kill or be killed. There are no true heroes. That seems to be what our world believes.
Yet, movies like Captain America: The First Avenger and it’s sequel, The Winter Solider challenge this theory. If people believe the world is evil and there is no hope, then why do these films to so well in theaters? Because, deep inside, people want a hero. Superheroes fist cam to life through pen and ink drawings. From paper, they moved to radio shows where families eagerly listened to battles of good versus evil. Then our heroes traveled from the radio waves to the silver screen, where we see them now. These stories all have slightly unsurprising plot lines, and invincible heroes. Arguably, all the characters are completely unrealistic – deflecting bullets, breaking buildings, and flying through the air – yet they pull us in to their stories.
From our make believe stories as innocent children to our birthday wishes as world weary adults, we have a dream inside. We dream of a world where evil is always defeated, and good always wins. Where the guy always gets the girl, and your sidekick is always there. It is what we all want, deep inside us. We want to be a character in a predictable superhero story. Either the lady, the buddy, or the hero himself. We know we have a role, and we love the assurance and inspiration we receive in the theater.
In the age of new, new, new we crave the predictable. We have a hero, the guy gets the girl, friends watch each other’s backs, the word gets saved, evil loses, and good wins. For now, I’m watching predictable superhero movies with my friends, and living with the hope of Christ in me.
One day evil will die and be gone. Good will ultimately be the winner, and the guy will get the girl. Because that’s what good stories are made of.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 21:3)