Episode 16: Superheroes!

Rachel and Leeman join ranks with the rest of the Geek Christian podcasting network to talk Superheroes and their ilk.

Topics Discussed and/or Spoiled

Iron Man (Lots of Iron Man 3 spoilers!), Batman, Superman, Lois and Clark, X-Men, Mark Millar’s Red Son, and of course… Farscape

Some related Lady Chains from Rachel’s Grace Church Blog


Friends of the Show

Are You Just Watching? – http://areyoujustwatching.com
Faith Hope and Nerds – http://faithhopeandnerds.com
Gamestore Prophets – http://gamestoreprophets.com
Geek This! podcast – http://geekthispodcast.com
Holy Worlds Podcast – http://holyworlds.posterous.com
The Sci-Fi Christian – http://thescifichristian.com
Storymen – http://storymen.us
Strangers and Aliens – http://strangersandaliens.com
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6 Responses to Episode 16: Superheroes!

  1. Rachel Kolar says:

    Gingerbread! You’ll have to answer to MOO!

    (I’m only 20 minutes in and thus don’t have any other thoughts beyond how madly I loved “The Night Circus.”)

  2. Tom Kolar says:

    Great podcast, and I took forever to answer because, as you can imagine, I’ve got a lot of thoughts on Superheroes and Jesus. First, I love your observation about the Church and Superheroes vis-à-vis “on the ground” reactive actions vs proactive, “causes of social problems.” There have been a few takes on the “Batman could do more as Bruce Wayne” argument –there was an episode of the Animated Series where the Ventriloquist was released from Arkham as cured, and got a job at the Wayne Enterprises mail room while staying at the “Thomas and Martha Wayne Halfway House.” You don’t see that too much, however, because 1: There aren’t many social problems that can be addressed by punching, and 2: when you start saying you’re going to change society using your power, you stray into ‘tyrant’ territory. Superheroes are at heart adolescent power fantasies, which is fine and amusing when you’re punching robots and saving school buses of orphans, but yourself at 14 getting power and trying and deciding to change the world, and that’s a little scary (f0r me anyway).
    To bring it to Superman, he’s a great example of this phenomenon. If you read those early superman stories from the 30’s, they’re…really, really different from the stereotype of Superman. They’re very much depression-era power fantasies addressing social issues. So, in one, an evil, greedy mine company is stinting on safety gear. Superman grabs the execs, sticks them in the mine, and causes a cave in so they’ll know what that’s like, and won’t let them out until they sign confessions of their crimes. In another one, he hurls a slumlord through the air until he signs a confession, and then tears down the slums and superfast builds good houses for the people. And while we can all get behind those causes, the idea of a guy in tights beating people up….is a little scary. In the same way, when the Church gets involved in addressing social issues, it moves perilously close to politics. It’s a very, very thin line, but one that should be treaded carefully. Can you say “The Church should work for, say, greater social concern for the poor” without saying “The Church advocates for specific political parties or politicians?” I think it’s possible, but tricky.
    Probably the best use of Superheroes I’ve seen as part of addressing wider social problems are those that tell stories about Superheroes as an example for people to inspire them to greater goodness. So, the Christopher Nolan movies looked at this, in keeping with the whole “Batman in the real world” take on things- Superheroes can only do so much, but their courage and sacrifice can inspire average people to become heroes on their own. There’s also a good superman issue called “Angel” that also looked to that question- http://www.comicvine.com/superman-659-angel/4000-106635/
    I’m a little surprised that you’re not all over secret identities, Rachel. It’s the perfect metaphor for an internal, secret self that the world doesn’t see or understand- I mean, Buffy’s basically the superhero dilemma supernatural and for girls. PS, you’d dig the Superman story “Secret Identity.” It’s a superman story for people that don’t like Superman.

    • Rachel Kolar says:

      I second “Secret Identity.” Tom and my brother (who hates Superman) both love it, which is my ultimate test of a quality Superman story. The only other one that passes that test, incidentally, is “Red Son.”

  3. Rachel Kolar says:

    I think Superman works well with the whole “be an example” thing when he’s part of an ensemble. I don’t often enjoy Supes on his own, but I’ve really liked watching him on the Justice League cartoon. He works well as an example for the other heroes to strive toward (there’s a lump-in-throat inducing scene where they think he’s dead, and Wonder Woman is about to kill the villain who they think killed him, and Flash says they don’t kill. When Wonder Woman says,”Speak for yourself,” Flash replies,”I’m trang to speak for Superman.” Chills.). Whenever he does start going in dark directions, the others are always there to remind him that this isn’t him–maybe it’s Batman or Wonder Woman, but Superman doesn’t get to be the one who makes moral compromises. It’s an interesting “Superman is the salt of the Justice League” dynamic.

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