These days, Marvel movies are a dime a dozen. There are at least 2-3 movies that come out every year. Almost each one is met with extravagant ticket sales. On the whole, they are entertaining and bombastic. Every once and awhile, though, one comes out in which the story goes a little deeper than the audience was expecting.
I’ve written about the controversy regarding The Shack before. My wife and I are currently reading the book, and this last weekend we went to go see the movie. Here is what I thought.
In the movie True Grit, 14 year old Mattie seeks vengeance for her father’s murder. She’s a fireball, who at many points in the movie offers smart jabs at people she disagrees with or is bargaining with. During one such dealing she quips, “Ain’t nothing free but for the grace of God.”
I just saw Batman v Superman with my wife and a couple of friends this weekend. Firstly, I would recommend that people who are interested in the movie go see it and judge for themselves what they think of it. My wife and I loved it. Caveat – it is not a movie for the kiddos. Seeing your two favorite heroes duke it out and have intense internal conflict just doesn’t jive well with 5-7 year olds.
The one thing about the movie that has made me sort of uncomfortable (only very light spoilers here) is the in your face treatment of Superman being an almost allegory for Jesus. It wasn’t hidden in Man of Steel, and they pretty much beat you in the face with the symbolism in this movie. However, Jesus exists in this universe as well.
There is a difference, though. Superman can save people from violent situations, but Supes can’t save their souls. Superman can be a symbol of hope, but his saving grace stops right there. There is no restoration of relationship between God and man through Kal-El, because even though he may be symbolic for Jesus, he is not Jesus. So, the salvation that Superman offers is purely external, and he makes some pretty big mistakes in the story.
This shows us the biggest difference between Superman and Jesus, at least in this adaptation. Superman has an identity crisis. He is an alien who wants to be human. He doesn’t want the responsibility of a god. He doesn’t want people to worship him, because he is not God. Seeking wisdom in a church in Man of Steel, this version of Clark Kent seems to have been raised among very Christian ideals. So he would seemingly know the dangers of presenting himself as a false savior.
However, he also knows that he has a purpose. He feels a responsibility to help others with his powers. This is what everyone should do, we should feel a responsibility to help and serve others with what God has given us. In this way, Superman is a great symbol of Christ-like behavior.
There is only one Savior, though, worthy of true worship. That is Jesus. On Easter Sunday, we can recognize that Jesus may not solve our outward situations. However, He will give us peace in the midst of chaos. He will lead us to joy in the dark places. He will change our hearts and our lives. All things work for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose.
There is a magic in art. There is a special feeling that an artist gets when something “comes together”. When a set of lines becomes a face, when words take shape into a poem, when a series of pictures tells a story, something special can happen. However, there is a sad place where this magic can begin to fade. That is when the act of perfecting a craft trumps the ability to moved, or in the case of movies entertained. The magic is lost.
The great thing about film is it is so multi-faceted. A film can be a simple form of escapism, or it can make a statement. It can entertain or move someone. There are such things as bad films, and bad art in general but when an artist takes something that isn’t bad and bashes it because certain techniques weren’t used, it is almost a tragedy. That is a cold way of looking at any art.
A case in point: The Dark Knight Rises vs The Avengers. Both movies were great movies in their own right. I found The Avengers hand over fist more entertaining than The Dark Knight Rises. I went to see both movies with friends, and The Avengers was just an all around joy to watch from start to finish. However, when I left The Dark Knight Rises, I turned to my roommate and told him that I liked The Avengers more. The Dark Knight Rises was a good film, but The Avengers was more fun.
Which brings the argument, does all art have to make a statement? Can art exist solely just to entertain? Does that make any more or less valid? Is it shallow if it exists just solely for entertainment?