For most of my life, I have looked up to superhero figures; whether in comics, film or in popular culture. However, over the last few years, I have begun to notice that it is the human characteristics of superheroes that actually seem to resonate the most.
I recently had the opportunity to attend Oz Comic Con in Brisbane a few weeks ago. While I was having a conversation with Nathan Jones, the wrestler-turned-actor from Troy fame, we began to have an interesting discussion about our beliefs, and the existence of faith. “Doubt is a part of faith”, explained Nathan Jones.
As much as faith is buoyed and strengthened by our ability to be sure of our beliefs and explore what it is we truly believe in, we often still have our doubts. As in life, our faith is often tested by what we do not believe, and what we seek to trust in.
Similarly, Clare Kramer, also an actor, had an intriguing conversation with me about the meaning of work, and how we find our balance in life. She explained that “finding what makes us unique” is as important as figuring life out, and that our work and life in general, is a reflection of that pursuit. As much as we want to fit in, being unique is what makes us stand out.
Having the opportunity to see all the fans, cosplayers and comic buffs in attendance during that weekend was quite an interesting interaction, as many hundreds of people turned up dressed as their favourite superheroes and heroines.
Power and responsibility
To date, one of my favourite superheroes is Spider-Man. I tend to think that amongst all the superheroes, he is the most human in nature. A shy kid who discovers superheroes beyond his natural ability to control, he realises that he just wants to be normal, to fit in, to be able to be another kid at school going through life, but he cannot.
One of my favourite scenes in the first film based on the character is when Peter Parker is sitting next to his uncle in the car, and his uncle delivers the line which becomes the basis for the several sequels to follow, “with great power comes great responsibility”.
As much as we would like to admit, we all have a certain level of power - we have power over our decisions, our relationships, our careers, and to a certain extent, even our own lives. But we do not hold the power to change the future. Just like Spider-Man, we have to choose whether we use our power for good, or for evil. That takes responsibility.
I recall one time in primary school when a classmate of mine and I were playing handball during our lunch break. As the bell rang to go to our next class, we trotted up the stairs where he took off his cap and pointed to the logo, “SMP - you know what that stands for?” he asked me nonchalantly. “Sex, money and power”.
He then proceeded to ask those around me, “what would you choose out of these three, if you had the chance?” One kid answered money, another said sex. My classmate answered, “power - because then I could have all the money and sex I want”.
Although a little lewd, my classmate seemed to be pointing to a bigger issue that we all face, though at Grade 6, he probably couldn’t have known the truth - that we all deal with the ingrained problem of power imbalance. Should we be given ultimate power, our world as we know it would cease to exist.
If we had too little power, we probably would cease to have the life that we now enjoy. However, we all have been given power that comes with responsibility, and that shouldn't be taken lightly.
For those of us who still think that we look up to superheroes, there is one superhero that trumps them all - Jesus. Being fully God and fully man, he found a way to rescue us all from our power imbalances and took the responsibility upon Himself to restore us to who we were meant to be.
So, whenever we feel like we need a superhero, we don’t have to look far to see His reflection in us.
Joseph Kolapudi is a TCK born in Australia to Indian parents, and returned from California where he was studying theology at Fuller; currently, he is working with a missions agency, continuing his love of writing by contributing to PSI.
Joseph Kolapudi's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/joseph-kolapudi.html