Everyone has their childhood hero. Someone whom we could look to from our immaturity and relate or find hope. Often we find those heroes in works of fiction; epic poems, science fiction or fantasy masterpieces, movies, or comic books. Me, I was a comic book nerd as a child. And like any other child, I had my favorites and would argue with friends, "Spider-man could beat up Batman!" or "no way Lex Luthor could have fooled my hero like that."
When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started Marvel Comics back in the 1960's, they created heroes with flaws. They wanted their heroes to be human and relatable, in contrast to heroes like Superman or Wonder Woman from DC whose alter-egos were their pedestrian identities, not the other way around. Spider-man was a teenager, with teenage problems of self-doubt and self-discipline. Thor was a prideful rebellious son. Daredevil was blind. The X-Men were surrogates for minorities. And so on.
Because of this it was always easy to be drawn in to my favorite hero's adventures. For me, it was Daredevil. I related to his blindness (no, I'm not blind, but my eyesight is really bad) and that he had red hair (seriously, these things were important to me as a kid!). I related to his overriding desire to do what was right, even if it often meant doing it the wrong way and causing unintended harm as a result. And I related to his faith.
I went to watch "Thor" with a friend of mine. Like me, his favorite comic book hero shared his character. He related to Thor's pride and impulsiveness. And he was excited to see that character portrayed on the big screen.
So as I sat watching "The Avengers" with my family, I was reminded of another favorite character, whom I probably relate to more than Daredevil if I was completely honest: the Hulk. Admittedly, I never really got into the TV show, I was more a fan of the Saturday morning cartoon. And I didn't get into Greg Pak's recent run that redefined the character. But I read religiously Peter David's take on the character that focused on Bruce Banner's split personality and internal struggles with his personal demons.
I didn't bother watching either attempt to translate the character into a major motion picture, hearing that both movies stunk. But the early reviews for The Avengers all raved about how the Hulk was portrayed. And it was a single moment in the movie that caused me to almost jump out of my seat and cheer because someone actually got it. If you've seen the movie, I'll only give the line and you can fill in the context. "I am always angry."
I am always angry. That is what I relate to most with the Hulk. I have hurt people in my anger. I have broken and destroyed things. Though I have never turned green. I am always angry.
"'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold." (Ephesians 4:26-27)
It took me a long time to accept that it is not a sin to be angry as this verse makes that distinction. I used to beat myself up over my bad temper, thinking God could never forgive me. But there is no sin beyond the grace of Jesus. Yet I need to be careful that my anger does not cause me to sin. I need to learn, as Bruce Banner did, to keep my anger in check. And only let my rage loose when threatened by an alien invasion.
(Stay tuned, true believers, another post to come on the Avengers in a couple of days!)