Light in Darkness: Superhero Movies

Light in Darkness: Superhero Movies

I’ve noticed something about movie titles lately. So many of them contain the word dark. The Dark Knight Rises, Thor: The Dark World, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Dark Shadows, Zero Dark Thirty. Others might not use the word but their subject matter is dark: Divergent, The Hunger Games franchise, even the recent Noah film. As Christian moviegoers, how do we stay focused on the light?

John’s Gospel says, “The light shines in darkness and the darkness did not overcome it” (Jn 1:5). All of our lives contain some darkness, it’s part of being human. The challenge of Christian living is to let Christ’s light shine in the ordinariness of everyday life. Another way of saying it is to strive to do what’s right even when it’s not easy. 

I just saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it got me to thinking about the superhero genre of films. Characters like Superman, Spiderman, Ironman, and Captain America (why are they all men?) are usually portrayed as moral examples in contrast to the evil villain. The hero saves people when the villain threatens doom and destruction, often at great cost to themselves. Captain America (Chris Evans) almost gets killed (several times) as he’s trying to plant the computer chips that will destroy the nasty new killing machines being made by the bad guys. Being the hero, however, does not come easily for him. Raised in the 1930’s and 40’s, the darkness in the modern world makes him doubt that he can make a difference. In one scene, he goes incognito to the Smithsonian’s display about himself during World War Two. Back then, right and wrong seemed so much clearer than it is now. Reconnecting with his values and beliefs gives him the light he needs to be “The Cap” once again. 

We don’t have to be superheroes to bring light into our world. The reality of darkness means that being a light won’t always be easy but it will always be possible. Why? Most importantly, because Jesus conquered evil, is risen from the dead and lives among us still. Also, because prayer and the Sacraments, especially Eucharist, reconnects us with our values and beliefs, thus providing us the strength we need to keep focused on the light. One of the nuns I work with has a little poster over her desk that reads “Be the reason someone smiles today”. That’s really all it takes, isn’t it?

by Sr. Hosea Rupprecht



movies, living the faith, darkness to light


Inspiration, Living the Faith Today



  • Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be helpful to read content from other writers and use a little something from other websites.
    2/16/2016 5:18:44 AM Reply
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    6/7/2014 7:28:44 PM Reply
  • I, too had been noticing the demand for super heros. It got me thinking about our saints. It is evident that many are lost and need someone to follow. I pray daily for more saints in present time and do believe anyone of us can be one. My hope is that our church will create a first class film production company and make top rated films about our saints so peole can understand the value of following Christ, doing God's will and find hope in the darkness.
    6/2/2014 5:14:03 AM Reply
    • @Judy: Very true, Judy. Mother Thecla Merlo, the co-foundress of our order, the Daughters of St. Paul, prayed that we all might become saints. You might be interested in checking out the growing library of saints movies available from Ignatius Press. I especially enjoyed the one on St. Bakhita.
      6/3/2014 5:35:06 PM Reply
  • The Super heroes were men because, when The genre came into being, men did the protecting and women and children needed the protection. (By the way, my favorite - besides Superman - is AQUAMAN). Now, thanks to Hilary Clinton and her ilk, women will do the protecting and men will need protecting. By the way, there are super women ... Wonder Woman and Super Girl. I still prefer male super heroes.
    5/31/2014 4:10:07 AM Reply
    • @Rosemary E. Lloyd: I've really only experienced comic books through the movies so I don't know all the characters. Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson, is part of the Avengers "universe" in the recent films. She's pretty awesome but guys with bows and arrows are my favorite, ever since Errol Flynn's Robin Hood! Thanks for your insights, Rosemary.
      5/31/2014 5:59:07 AM Reply
  • Sr. Hosea, Your thought-provoking essay on superheroes in the movies brought another movie to my mind. I recalled watching the "Passion of the Christ" several years ago in the theater. Remember that scene when Jesus was experiencing the Agony in the Garden? Then that scary, creepy demonic character appeared in the shadows and he and Jesus looked at each other. In the next moment, the actor playing Jesus portrayed a transformation from doubt and fear to a confident and steely determination to do His Father's will. I had never thought of the Agony in the Garden that way before and it brought a whole new meaning to Isaiah 9 v1 & 6: "The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone. For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace." Whenever I hear that verse, I think of that scene in the movie and give thanks for Jesus...my God-Hero! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
    5/31/2014 3:51:33 AM Reply
    • @Diana C: I'll have to go back and check out that scene. Thanks for your insights, Diana.
      5/31/2014 5:43:00 AM Reply
  • Thank you Sr. Hosea, there are so many things we can do to show our light to the world and it does all begin with a smile and an interest in someone.
    5/31/2014 3:46:45 AM Reply
    • @Nancy Rappa: Bless you, Nancy.
      5/31/2014 5:40:45 AM Reply
  • Christ conquered death- He is my King.
    5/31/2014 3:36:37 AM Reply
  • Christ conquered death- He is my King.
    5/31/2014 3:04:19 AM Reply
  • They aren't all men but are mostly men because they are geared to a male audience. They are a subject matter men would watch and spend money on, as opposed to the chick flicks they aren't so interested in. (Let's not be oversensitive here!) Men are heads of households, expected to be protectors and providers. It is a bit overwhelming to expect they are up to it all. These heroes give courage and a fantasy that spurs the hero in us all. Sadly it is a secular way of finding a way to bring in more money but also a replacement for faith in Christ, the true and only superhero .
    5/31/2014 2:48:26 AM Reply
    • @Pam Atkinson: All for Jesus! Thank you, Pam.
      5/31/2014 2:58:25 AM Reply
  • Thanks Sr. Hosea. As a former English teacher, I especially appreciated your pointing out that in this modern world we sometimes begin to wonder if the eternal verities which were once taught have vanished. We need folks like you to remind us, especially young people that they are truly still in place and must be revisited in order for His Kingdom to truly come. God bless you. JMJ
    5/31/2014 2:45:48 AM Reply
    • @Joann : Thanks for your comment, Joann. Some things never change. Blessings.
      5/31/2014 2:53:59 AM Reply

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