Superheroes and Their Lessons

Agreeing and Disagreeing with Eric Kripke

With just a bit of self-reflection, it is clear that we humans are dualistic beings. At times, we can be brilliant, united, and cooperative. We achieve milestones like space travel and landing on our moon. At other times, we can be immensely boneheaded. For example, sometimes we will place a drink on the roof of our vehicle, immediately forget it’s there, and drive off.

In the same vein, I simultaneously agree and disagree with the views Eric Kripke expressed in a recent interview. Eric Kripke is the show-runner of the popular adaptation of the comic book series The Boys. The show’s story arcs and superheroes take clear inspiration from current events. There are also obvious similarities between the show’s characters and mainstream superheroes, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and more. You can find GUG’s review of Season One here.

Where we agree

In an October interview, The Hollywood Reporter asked Kripke about his thoughts on Marvel and DC shows and movies. The show-runner described himself as “a fan” of Marvel’s output, tone, and style before adding his misgivings with the volume of such similar products. He and I agree on this point. I get great enjoyment from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The baseline of quality exemplified by them creates a foundation of trust with their films.

Despite this, I believe that the time has come for a shift. The uniqueness of a shared universe with character/plot crossovers is gone. My hope is that Marvel will take advantage of the finality of Avengers: Endgame and be more open to more diverse stories going forward. The company has announced upcoming projects such as ‘The Eternals,’ ‘Blade,’ ‘Moon Knight’ and ‘Shang Chi.’ These seem to indicate that this diversity is coming.

Where we disagree

Kripke further critiqued Marvel specifically and the superhero genre at large. “It’s a little dangerous to train an entire generation to wait for someone strong to come in and save you.” While I agree with Mr. Kripke in his overall analysis, I disagree with his perspective. His idea that the superhero genre has Gospel overtones rings true. However, the fact is that people are helpless and unable to save themselves. We need outside intervention.

Christians understand that this intervention is demonstrated in the work of Jesus Christ, who “came that they may have life and have it abundantly,”(John 10:10). I disagree with Mr. Kripke’s perspective, that this concept is detrimental and harmful. If a person responds to the knowledge that they cannot self-save with paralysis and inaction, then they took it incorrectly.

What is the Christian response?

The Gospel indeed reveals that we cannot save ourselves. How are we to respond? With repentance of our sins and faith in Jesus Christ to save us. The good news is that “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us. Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians 2:4-5).

Superheroes’ media, as observed by Kripke, reflect the reality that we need someone greater than us for salvation. Let us use this popular storytelling genre as a bridge to conversations about the One who truly saves.

Michael Fitzgerald

Most importantly, I am saved by God's grace. I am a pastor serving in southern Alabama. I received a Master of Divinity degree from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. I've been an avid reader since the age of 4. I broadly enjoy geek culture, particularly comics and graphic novels. I've been collecting and reading comics for over a decade. I also enjoy gaming, movies, and books.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Fitzgerald on December 9, 2020 at 10:22 pm

    Do you agree? Disagree? Let’s talk!

Leave a Reply