I collected and traded comic books when I was a kid, but throughout my adult life, I’ve been pretty unaware of the world of Sci Fi and Comic-Con. Nothing against people who follow all the latest aliens, gadgets and fads, but it’s never been my thing. I recently embarrassed myself by not knowing the difference between DC and Marvel characters.
However, recent discussions in the media about the new movie “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” have perked up my interest. In particular, I’ve been intrigued by the fact that virtually all superheroes have at least one weakness, or point of vulnerability. In fact, their ability to defeat the forces of evil often depends on learning how to deal with and overcome that weakness.
(I can send out Messenger articles for months without anyone questioning my theology. I anticipate that, in contrast, this particular article will stimulate corrections from a number of geek purists.)
Probably the best known superhero weakness is Superman’s extreme sensitivity to Kryptonite, a radioactive mineral from his home planet that cancels out all his superpowers and leaves him as helpless as a baby. I had a vague awareness of weaknesses that are part of other superheroes’ comicbook DNA, but it took an internet search to expand my appreciation of how extraordinarily diverse they are:
- Plastic Man, who can stretch into any length and shape, is vulnerable to extreme cold, because he may freeze, become brittle and break.
- The Flash can move at lightening speed, but his weakness is that he may move too fast, be pulled permanently into the Speed Force and die.
- Wonder Woman was developed as a feminist superhero, but during the early years of her comic existence, she still had the weakness that she would lose her strength when tied up by a man.
- Thor is a mighty warrior whose magical hammer can terrorize any enemy, but if the hammer leaves his hand for more than sixty seconds, he and the hammer become powerless.
- Green Lantern has taken varied forms during his existence, always featuring a magical ring that emits powerful green light rays. He has shown weaknesses toward wood and yellow light.
- The Incredible Hulk emerges from being a normal human only when he gets angry, but this anger can also be his undoing if it becomes out of control.
- X-Men are a mutant subspecies, and their genetic abnormalities not only result in their superpowers, but also leave them with specific vulnerabilities that can be their undoing.
- Batman has no superpowers, so he has all the weaknesses of any mere mortal; he only survives by the strength of his intellect in solving problems and creating winning strategies.
And then there’s Jesus, our Superhero. When he walked this earth, he had all the Super Powers of God himself. His weakness is that he loves us. That love made him vulnerable to all the rejection, humiliation, pain and suffering he experienced during the Holy Week we’ve just commemorated. That’s why he died for us.
DC and Marvel have not matched this story.
– George Van Alstine