My sons LOVE super heroes. I grew up reading comic books, but I think my kids love super heroes even more than I do. My oldest loves to dress as Superman. When he has to wear his glasses, he’s okay with it, because Clark Kent wears glasses. He knows he’s just Superman in disguise when he has them on. My youngest is all about Batman. He even has a baby doll named “Baby Bruce Wayne.” It’s a girl.
They leap from the tallest furniture, “bound” bad guys (I still don’t know what that means, but they do it), and of course, they watch a lot of superhero cartoons. My wife and I try to limit how much TV the kids watch, but when they have the choice, they choose X-Men or Avengers more often than not. Today I asked Colin who his third favorite super hero is. Without skipping a beat, like he had already put a ton of thought into who he likes the third-most, he said, “Wolverine. He’s so cool, dad. He even has claws.” “That’s right, buddy,” I replied. “They’re made of adamantium.” “They never break!” he declares.
So I’ve been thinking about this obsession and whether or not it’s okay. I don’t want my kids doing anything in excess or anything that’s sinful, so I really need to think about what I let them do. I have never really tried to limit their super hero admiration because, after all, super heroes are good guys. But I wanted to turn this into a teaching moment.
“Colin, why do you think that super heroes are heroes?” I asked. “Because they’re good guys,” he answers, predictably. “But what is it that makes them heroes? What makes them good guys?” I pry further. “Well…I don’t know,” comes his honest reply. I try here not to give him too many answers. What I want is for him to come up with the answer, so I’m trying to stick with questions. “Do you think maybe part of it is that they always do the right thing?” “Yeah, and they save people!” he excitedly adds. “And don’t they have to put other people before themselves sometimes when they save someone?” “Yeah, and they might get hurt!” He’s starting to get it. Self-sacrifice is part of what makes super heroes admirable. They’re selfless. They do the right thing, even when it might put them in danger.
“Do you know who else puts other people first and sometimes has to face danger?” I quiz him. He’s very interested now. “I don’t know! Who?!” “Soldiers.” “Oh, because they fight for us,” he adds. “That’s right. They fight so we’re safe.” “Dad…are soldiers heroes?” “Yeah, buddy. Soldiers are heroes, just like Batman, Superman, Ironman, and all of your favorite super heroes. For all the same reasons.”
This wasn’t a very long conversation, but I see many more like it in our future. Over time I’m sure we’ll talk about firefighters, policemen, and other service workers risk their own lives for the sake of other people, just like super heroes do. It’s also an introduction to the ultimate super hero, the most unselfish person who ever lived. The One who laid down His own life to save ours. Yes, in the end, the only hero that counts is the one who upholds the universe by the word of His power (see Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is the hero of heroes. And that’s where all this admiration of super heroes is going to lead us.