I watch somewhat more TV now than I have in a very long time. I almost never watch it on the actual television, since my life is busy enough during those primetime viewing hours that I’m almost never in my house at those times. So I stream the videos on my laptop at all sorts of random hours. It’s not so much that I’m watching that intrigues me; it’s what I’m watching.
You see, about a year ago, I fell in love with Captain America. I had an opportunity to see a movie with my wife one evening and as we walked to the theatre, I spent some time on my iPhone trying to figure out what to see. It came down to either Spider-Man 2 or Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Cap’s movie was getting slightly better reviews, so we went to it instead. My wife was stuck by the fact that it was two hours of fighting and explosions, but was also struck by how nobly Captain America acts. He wanted to redeem his old friend, not fight him. I thought the whole movie was great, including Cap’s attitudes and actions.
After that, I went back and watched Avengers again. Two of Captain America’s lines jump out at me:
There’s only one God ma’am, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.
Steve Rogers: Word is you can find the cube.
Bruce Banner: Is that the only word on me?
Steve Rogers: Only word I care about.
These statements simply resonate with me. The first one for obvious reasons. The second one shows you so much of who that character is. Doesn’t matter that Banner turns into “an enormous green rage monster”. All that matters are those positive qualities.
Then one day in boredom, I searched Google for Captain America quotes and found this one:
Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, you move.”
It practically sounds Biblical: “the river of truth”. And it encourages me. In a time when evangelical Christianity is becoming increasingly at odds with what the rest of the world believes, I have to stand up for what I believe and Who I believe in. If a red, white and blue shield can remind me of that, all the better. I have a bunch of Captain America paraphernalia now and I’m not ashamed of it. I’m 36 years old and am completely engrossed in a comic book superhero.
So what does any of that have to do with watching more television? Well, here are those TV shows I’m watching:
- Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD
- The Flash
And this week I’ve seen previews for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl, realizing that I am going to be streaming even more shows next year. I’m super excited for 2016’s release of Captain America: Civil War. It’s not hard to see the common theme here. Why are superheroes taking over my own screen? Why can anyone in America sit down next year and watch no less than FIVE superhero shows on primetime television? I think the answer is simple.
Superheroes are about hope. About doing the right thing. About service and doing the hard things. About sacrifice. About what we aspire to do and to be. I don’t think there’s ever been a time in human history when some version of a superhero didn’t exist. Samson, Hercules, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Paul Bunyan. All variants on a theme. And now that the special effects are cost-effective enough to do for a 20-episode TV season, we can see that hope on a regular basis.
Are superheroes taking over Hollywood? Maybe. But I think it’s a good thing.
Courage, Honor, Loyalty, Sacrifice. You’re braver than you think.