Superheroes seem to be everywhere these days. Wonder Woman has just exploded onto the silver screen – and Spiderman and Thor are due to return to cinemas later this year. While on television Supergirl, the Flash and Green Arrow have their own ongoing series.
And although it seems unlikely, Christianity can be a major element of superhero sagas, along with the capes, spandex and underpants worn on the outside. Several superheroes profess Christianity – and others have come close to embracing it.
For example, the supernatural superhero Ghost Rider – who appeared on British TV screens this year in the fourth season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – almost ended up converting to Christianity despite gaining his powers through a deal with the Devil. But I’ll come back to that later.
The juxtaposition between God and the Devil has fascinated comics writers, as can be seen in Daredevil. A lawyer by day, at night Matt Murdock dresses up in a devil costume to serve rough justice on those who escape the law. As his family was obviously of Irish extraction, it had been hinted by a number of writers that he was Catholic. But in the 1960s and 70s Marvel Comics shied away from explicitly religious references.
It was writer/artist Frank Miller, who took over the strip in 1979, who brought out this aspect of the character. Speaking about his decision, he said: “Along the way I decided he needed to be Catholic, as only a Catholic could be a vigilante and an attorney at the same time.”
While hardly devout, Daredevil turns to his faith in times of trial, and when director Kevin Smith took over the writing chores shortly before the Millennium, he set the tone for his run by opening the story arc in the confessional. Since then scenes of Matt Murdock going to Confession have often been used to lay bare his inner conflicts, including in the recent Netflix series.
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