Jesus Is the Worst Superhero Ever
But he's also the hero that we need.

If you woke up and the world had been transformed into a super-nerd dystopia where a demigod-Patton Oswalt forced you to choose only the best superhero to preserve from 100 years of American comics, you would choose Superman.

Sure, the more educated nerd-palate prefers a hero who is less of a boy-scout. (Batman is my pick.) After all, Superman is a little goody-goody. He ALWAYS does the right thing. He has the most complete set of powers: flight, x-ray vision, super strength, etc. He's invincible, except for the whole kryptonite thing.

You would not tell demigod-Patton Oswalt that the ideal superhero for cultural preservation was Jesus Christ. Being honest, Jesus is actually a terrible superhero. Even if you give him the whole walking-on-water and miraculous healing thing, that doesn't give you much to work with when Lex Luthor decides to blow up the sun or Darkseid starts a zombie apocalypse. Apart from the Ascension, Jesus can't even fly. So there's nothing he can do about the whole exploding sun fiasco. And re: the zombie apocalypse? Can he go around healing the zombies? No, no no. That's not going to help. They will make more zombies. Someone has to stop Luthor and Darkseid. Someone needs to strap them to a meteor and toss them out into space. At least in the comic books, that will solve the problem.

Even if you narrow your scope to Biblical heroes Jesus isn't the coolest from a nerd's point of view. Sampson is probably the best biblical hero. He's at least got super strength. I could see David having a spin-off giant killing mini-series that would connect with the right demographic. But Jesus never kills any giants. He doesn't bust open heads with a donkey's jaw-bone. When he gets the chance to do something big in front of a crowd, he just makes lunch. I guess he could open a catering business but that's not going to stop invading hoards of Philistines.

Most Christians are familiar with the Messianic expectation of the Hebrew people. It's not that the Messiah for God's people wasn't supposed to be awesome. He was. Before Jesus showed up people were anticipating someone who could single-handedly take down the Roman empire. The Messiah was supposed to be "bad ass."

The problem is, Jesus is not "bad ass."

Jesus, according to Paul (in a totally anti-climatic origin story), gave up his cool powers and humbled himself to the position of a slave. Not even a cool "Django Unchained" slave. A plain old slave with nothing. No place to sleep. No power. All Jesus had was complete dependence upon God the Father.

May 14, 2013

Displaying 1–8 of 8 comments


December 11, 2013  5:58pm

Jesus can't fly? He just levitate in the end in the sight of his disciples. And he holds the creation under him Colosian 1:17. This is a terrible article and stupid too.

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May 27, 2013  2:16am

But Jesus was able to do the superhuman thing of sacrificing His own life. I bet other superheroes cant do that

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May 22, 2013  12:13pm

I loved that Severson describes spiritual growth as, "[...] being a broken people who grow not in power but in desperation for Jesus." In our lives, growth is framed as the process of gaining independence (a framework that Carol Gilligan rightly questions): dipers to potty-training, living with parents to moving out, needing help to picking up oneself by the bootstraps. But spiritual growth is framed as the process of growing in deeper dependance: a aged tree (planted by the rivers of water) is more deeply intimate and dependent to the soil for its substance than a sapling. To grow in relationship is to always grow in dependance.

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Lane Severson

May 20, 2013  12:22pm

Re: the comments about entertainment above. I apologize but I don't really understand what you mean. The thrust of the article is really about how Jesus exemplifies the Christian life through his humility and dependence upon God. This example continues to be a challenge to me and I think to all Christians that our power is not in our own abilities but in our dependence upon God. We are naturally attracted to people, like Superman, who seem able to do everything themselves. But this temptation to handle things based on our own power actually prevents us from becoming Christlike. I hope that helps.

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May 18, 2013  11:09am

Perhaps it's my stodginess coming out, but I kind of agree with SallyB's comment..."I suppose this is an important issue if your life revolves around entertainment." That being said, I'm willing to admit that I don't see the connection here, so if I missed something I'm opened for a clearer explanation of this example.

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May 17, 2013  9:23am

I suppose this is an important issue if your life revolves around entertainment.

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May 14, 2013  6:58pm

I wonder how long it will take for people to miss the point of this article because all they can see is the "colorful metaphor" that must mean the writer has laid off all concern for "holiness".

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Joe Edwards

May 14, 2013  10:01am

Tremendous reminded of solo Christus as our ONLY means of salvation. Amen and amen!!!

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