At this time we do not know the religious affiliation, religious beliefs or religious background of the Robert Reynolds, the Marvel superhero known as "The Sentry."
Even as comics have sort of become marginalized again, superheroes have experienced a renaissance the last five years or so. It seems every year brings two or three big budgeted superhero films. Admittedly most aren't terribly good. But while I've not read comics for quite some time, I do enjoy the Spiderman, X-Men, and Batman pictures. I have to confess I'm eagerly awaiting the forthcoming rebirth of Superman by X-Men's Bryan Singer. (And dreading Brett Ratner taking over X-Men). Anyway, I thought for a change of pace rather than doing a "practical ethics" I'd do the opposite. The most unpractical ethics of all: analyzing superheroes.
Now I know at least one person is preparing a post on an other blog taking exception to some of my views. And I'll further confess that with a few exceptions while reading graphic novels at Borders, I've really not read comics since the early 80's when I was a kid. Since comics are re-invented a lot, things may have changed. But here's my views.
Spiderman. Probably the key ethics for Spiderman comes out of the films. With great power comes great responsibility. The last film played up the tensions between Spiderman's career, social life and duty. The idea seems to be that because he has the power he really ought be out fighting crime all the time. But doesn't he deserve a bit of a break? Don't the NYPD and FBI have some duty to take up the slack? It's an interesting question. Moreso within Mormonism.
We often say that the reason we don't have any Shakespeares or Mozarts in the church is because of the fundamental conflict between family, church and doing such secular endeavors. Would a Mormon superhero not face the same problem? What would an LDS hero do if he were called to be a Bishop? Would this power (which I think LDS would see as ultimately coming from God) conflict with the other commands God gives regarding family? What about David O McKay's comments about no success outside of the home can compensate for failure within the home? Exactly how should a hero treat his family? One can't help but wonder how the heroes of the Book of Mormon dealt with this - sadly uncommented upon in the text.
Comment from: Ivan Wolfe - http://inmediasrays.blogspot.com
I say this as one who loves and still reads comics (check out my blog, which I need to update):
Most superhero comics are about adolescent angst. There are exceptions: Kurt Busiek's Astro City takes the idea of heroes to realms no one else has, making superheroics stand-ins for family conflicts, post-modern concepts of the truth and the responsibility of the news media.
Alan Moore, on the other hand, sees heroes as much more deadly. Watchmen is his prime example, with one hero so out of control, he murders thousands of New Yorkers to ensure world peace. However, his other works deal with the same thing. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (not the movie - the much superior comics) main thesis could be said that there are no real differences between our heroes and our monsters. Even Tom Strong which seems to be a nice tale about a family friendly super-hero is really about how hero worship leads to fascism - even if the fascist is a nice guy with the best of intentions.
But overall, super hero books are, by and large, about adolescent angst. That's why the Punisher is so popular.
In the comics, at least, Superman married Lois Lane first (there were some hints by some writers, but the editors wanted the relationship to appear fairly pure until they got married) - the movie makers and TV show makers have no idea that Superman was popular because he's the ulitmate Boy Scout (in the comics he actually was a Boy Scout. In Identity Crisis he identifies a certian knot before Batman does, and Batman seems shocked Supes figured something out before he did, but then he mutters "oh, yeah - Boy Scout" under his breath) and will always hold himself to the highest standards.
Heroes in general, though are problematic. Even squeaky clean Superman is on some level, a vigilante working outside the system.
As for the Spider-man comment, you should read the new Sentry comic by Marvel (not the older one from a few years ago, although that's a good one as well). The main character is basically Marvel's Superman, and he has a computer that assesses problems throughout the world and tells the Sentry when and where to go. Sometimes he has to balance a bank robbery in New York with a tsunami in Alaska with genocide in Africa - he goes to whichever one he can do the most good. Of course, his marriage is suffering, since he spends all his time saving the world, and no time on his personal life. An interesting read.
10/11/05 - 18:45