The forthcoming documentary Batman & Jesus suggests as much — that Jesus Christ was little more than Superman or Captain America cloaked in historical garb. Blurb:
Batman & Jesus seeks to introduce the evidence both for and against a historical Jesus of Nazareth to wider audience using contemporary examples in pop culture to draw comparisons
Forget that historical evidence strongly suggests that Jesus was a real person who performed miracles (and didn’t have a wife). It doesn’t stop the Friendly Atheist from seeing comic books as further evidence of a meaningless, Superhero-deficient universe.
In his post Shouldn’t It Be Obvious That All Superheroes Are Fictional?, the Friendly Atheist writes,
If I told you there was a man with supernatural powers, who people looked to in times of need, who was thought of as a savior, who was immortalized in books and films, and who had scores of enemies, would you say this person was real or fictional?
Superman is fictional. Catwoman is fictional. The X-Men are fictional.
But when the superhero is Jesus, suddenly everyone thinks he’s real.
What the Friendly Atheist or the makers of this documentary seem to fail to address is why the human psyche constantly gravitates to and yearns for a Superhero.
Grant Morrison, DC Comics veteran, in his book “Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human” explains:
“Comic book narratives can serve as modern day parables… We live in the stories we tell ourselves. In a secular, scientific rational culture lacking in any convincing spiritual leadership, superhero stories speak loudly and boldly to our greatest fears, deepest longings, and highest aspirations. They’re not afraid to be hopeful, not embarrassed to be optimistic, and utterly fearless in the dark. They’re about as far from social realism as you can get, but the best superhero stories deal directly with mythic elements of human experience that we can all relate to, in ways that are imaginative, funny, and provocative. They exist to solve problems of all kinds and can always be counted on to find a way to save the day. At their best, they help us to confront and resolve even the deepest existential crises. We should listen to what they have to tell us.”
Morrison is not a Christian, yet acknowledges that “superhero stories speak loudly and boldly” to inherent spiritual, existential yearnings; “to our greatest fears, deepest longings, and highest aspirations.” But why?
As C. S. Lewis noted, hunger and thirst always corresponds to something — in that case, food and water. We don’t hunger for things that don’t existence. The same is true for metaphysical yearnings. Humanity’s constant hunger for a Superhero — one evidence of which are comic books and MCU films — is less proof that Jesus was a fictional Superhero and more evidence that we yearn for One. And as Morrison notes, this persistent yearning actually undermines the “secular, scientific rational culture” that atheists use to bludgeon our Superhero sensibilities.
Rather than comic books proving that Jesus is fictional, couldn’t humanity’s constant yearning for a Savior, for a Righteous King, for a Judge Who will set things right, for a Loving, All-Knowing, All-Powerful Superhero, actually be evidence that we intuitively know One is there? And have a need for rescue?