Monday, November 20, 2017

Justice League: Hope and Heroes

Fans of Superman and followers of Jesus will delight in DC’s Justice League. Although the movie suffers from a bland villain and sub-par CGI (not the least of which covers Henry Cavill’s mustache), Justice League delivers something that was conspicuously absent from Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice… hope. This hope resides in the film’s resurrected savior, Superman. Director Joss Whedon establishes this theme right from the start. In the opening sequence, set prior to Superman’s death in Dawn of Justice, Superman pauses after a daring rescue to chat with a couple kids. “Is it true that your symbol stands for hope?” one child asks. “Yes,” Superman replies. “But it looks like an S,” the youngster persists. “It’s meant to,” Superman says, “It winds like a river. It comes and goes.”

In the wake of Superman’s death all hope seems gone. The whole world appears darker and drearier without him. Early in the film, Martha Kent tells Lois Lane, “There’s so much bitterness. I think it’s because he’s gone.” Batman agrees, commenting to Wonder Woman, “Superman was a beacon to the world.” Lois Lane sums up the situation in a voice-over at the end of the film. “Our darkness was deep and seemed to swallow up all hope…”

I think the followers of Jesus could relate. In the wake of his death on the cross, Jesus’ followers were devastated, depressed, and disillusioned. All their hopes rested in a man they believed was God in human flesh. But then He died. I think the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus, spoke for everyone when they said, “We had hoped that He was the one” (Luke 24:21 NIV). Had hoped? Anytime you start talking about hope in the past tense, you know you’re in trouble. Thankfully, Jesus conquered death and rose from the grave. So did Superman.

In the film, Superman dramatically returns from the dead and, as alluded to by his symbol, brings hope back to his fellow heroes and the world. Lois Lane speaks of Superman’s return in her closing comments, saying, “Hope is real and you can see it. All you have to do is look up in sky.” The idea of a resurrected savior who brings hope to the world ought to resonate with Bible believing Christians. Prophesying the coming of Christ, the Bible says, “his name will be the hope of all the world” (Matthew 12:21 NLT).

Jesus is our hope. The hope of all the world.

In an interview with USA Today, Batman actor Ben Affleck makes a compelling comment. “Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?” Thanks to Jesus, we don’t have to wish. We just have to hope.