Why Superheroes Might be Anti-heroes
I have been consuming a lot of superheroes stories lately.
Mostly Marvel if I am being honest but I have read/watch other superhero stories too. One of the things I've noticed is that superheroes kill bad people a lot. Or at least very likely to kill a bad someone on their superhero journey. And they are completely justified by everyone that it was the right thing to do. It seems like killing bad people is a thing that is part of the job of a superhero. They never bear consequences unless they kill an innocent.
I don't know about you, but sometimes watching the Marvel superheroes, as an example, kill bad human people (who are not even the villains, just henchmen or just plain criminals) makes me uncomfortable. Even more uncomfortable when they are completely praised for it. I wouldn't mind it so much if it was a last resort rather than the thing that must happen for the greater good. It raises the question: does the end justify the means? In all cases, in the eyes of society and the superheroes and those who the superheroes are working for, it does. But I have to question again: does it really justify them? To me, I see it as them doing an evil to achieve good and that's kinda of messed up. When did killing the bad guys became such a good thing?
Back in the old days when someone killed another person, they got hanged for it or they were put in the gas chamber (plus many other death methods). I never liked that. It made me feel sick. I don't care how evil they are, it just didn't seem right to me. I am glad that we don't do that anymore (as far as I am aware).
I don't know if it is just me with feeling that humans have no right to decide a human has to die for their crimes. I always feel it is God's right alone. If you have ever read the old testament, you will see that God killed people a lot. By his own hand (in most cases) or through other humans (the Israelites). But that doesn't bother me because I believe him to be a just God. When it comes to sin, he never shows favouritism to anyone. The bible is clear on that. When considering that God is the only one who can judge rightly on each individual on this planet, I quickly see that humans are too flawed to do true justice without God's guidance.
Which is exactly where every single hero I have in mind are. They don't have God's Word at all in their hearts or souls. Which means they are too fallen, like the rest of us, to see true justice, even if they have good morals that everyone can support. That part doesn't matter. What matters is that they are just as human as the person on the street they walk pass or the person they are trying to protect. They are just as naturally flawed that I don't believe that they have the right to say someone deserves death for their crimes.
Especially the bad men they are fighting against. Especially the henchmen they kill to get to the villain. Especially the random bad guy they killed on their mission. Especially the villain they come face to face with. Especially all of the bad people we don't care if they lived or died.
It doesn't matter if they do indeed deserve death, we all deserves death. It doesn't matter that they are "more evil" than other people. Sin is sin. No matter how small or big, anything sinful means death.
According to God, a lie is worthy of death. Anyone outside of God is worthy of death. No human can possibly say that they deserve to die when they don't fully understand what justice truly is. What consequences lead to death. And even if the person did understand what true justice is, they couldn't kill for their mission anymore when they realise justice calls them to love.
Justice isn't about condemning people to die, it is about equality being restored. Justice is about setting things right. It is about removing sin and replacing it with holiness.
Now, to be clear, I am not talking about superheroes fighting in battles, only the moments when they are fighting outside of that (which is most cases). And, no, a fight against a villain or two is not a battle. When I say battle I mean a battle similar to a war battle. As examples, I'd say the battles in Captain America, Avengers, Age of Ultron, Infinity War and Endgame are good ones to mention here. In other Marvel films and superheroes books though, most of them, if not all, are not at the same level as those ones mentioned above were. Am I am excusing battles since God himself once called the Israelites to fight in battles so I believe that justice with war is different. I don't like wars at all but I can never say someone is evil for fighting in a war or they are murderers. War is complicated and I don't fully understand how justice looks like in one, so I don't want to go deep in this here. But I do want to mention that I don't believe that God loves war. In a perfect world, there wouldn't be wars at all. So in my understanding, God made the Israelites go to war because he understood how the world was broken and using that brokenness was the best way to fulfill his plan with his people, if that makes sense. I'm not sure I said that right, so feel free to chat with me about that.
Strangely enough, Captain America: The Winter Solider is one of the most uncomfortable superhero movie to watch. Why? Because I have to watch Captain America beat up those henchmen on that boat in the first fight scene of the film. And if you really think about it, a lot of those men he fought against would have been killed. He was kind of brutal. And he is the most noble and moral character of the MCU. In watching this moment over and over and still never getting comfortable with it, I realise Captain America isn't perfect or pure good, nor is he not flawed, fallen or broken. He is still human. He may be one of the closest images of Jesus Christ in the mainstream market, but he isn't Jesus Christ. His justice is the same as every other human in the world. He makes mistakes and sometimes he doesn't value life as much as he should.
His justice without God isn't true justice, therefore his morals are flawed and these flaws make him do things that wouldn't be praised by God. And that doesn't make him a bad person. It just makes him like the rest of us. A person in need of a saviour.
Yes, even superheroes need a saviour, even if they can save themselves 99% of the time. And, yeah, they just fiction characters and all, but they reflect humanity and we all know that humanity needs a saviour. If the people they are reflecting need one, they need one too.
Let's face it: our view of good and evil isn't right. Personally, even after reading the bible, I still like I am still figuring out what good really is, what evil really is. And while it is fun to explore good vs. evil and/or morally grey areas with superheroes, I have to argue are superheroes really heroes when killing bad guys is okay? I'll actually question anyone's status of hero if they kill a bad guy and feel justified for killing that person. I might have high standards but so does God. His standards are way higher than mine. And it is through his view that I can no longer feel comfortable watching "the hero" kill a bunch of bad guys. It doesn't feel like justice, it feels like justification.
Which is why I feel, if we are looking at this with true good in mind, superheroes might be more rightly labelled as anti-heroes. To be honest, a lot of other type of heroes might be anti-heroes too.
And I'm not saying that because the heroes are flawed, they are not heroes. Not at all. I'm saying they are anti-heroes when they let a certain evil help them achieve their good intentions and never feeling regret. When they don't acknowledge they are flawed and broken and fallen. When they lean more toward justification than justice. There are heaps of signs that a hero isn't really a hero, even if everyone says they are.
Wow, I didn't mean for this to go so deep or controversial sounding. 😂 Oh well, I meant every single word.
Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about my tags. I just needed to finally finish this post. I had this idea for about a year. You'll get a nice, sweet tag the next time I post.
So for now, farewell, Virtual Paper Adventurers!
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Agree or disagree? I love to hear your thoughts! Please be nice if you disagree.