Sinners and Saviors–Ghost Rider

Ghost RiderSo in the wake of Bryan Singer saying that Superman's a savior (duh), I find that two more Marvel superheroes will be making their way to the screen in a short while. Ghost Rider, starring Nicolas Cage (official site; be sure and look at The Rider Revealed), hits screens early next year, and Iron Man, directed by Jon Favreau, is expected in 2008. (Another Hulk movie is apparently in the works, too, a blessing since Ang Lee was too busy thinking about Brokeback to shoot a decent film.)

 But about Ghost Rider… If Superman's a savior, Ghost Rider is the ultimate sinner. Not a bad man, you understand, but a modern-day Faust whose deal with the devil (played by Peter Fonda), goes horribly wrong. (If you never read the comic, here's your primer.) Anyway, it's another iteration of the comic book movie formula, which demonstrates the redemption possible when tragedy reveals (or creates) the tools for triumph.

Think about it: The Fantastic Four are exposed to cosmic rays, but instead of killing them, they are empowered to fight for the values of humanity. Same with Spider-Man, and the Hulk, and countless others.

You can just as easily flip that alliteration around a bit and say that sometimes tragedy reveals (or creates) tools for terror. Think of many arch-villains, and what you have is someone who experienced horrible tragedy but instead of redeeming it, used his or her grief as a weapon.

What it boils down to is the comics' proponence of the humanist ideal: what we are is what we are, and stress or tragedy or whatever can only reveal who we really are, not make us anew. But that is the promise of the gospel, that though we were one thing, we need not remain that thing. We can be transformed, like Paul, or John Newton, or Alice Cooper (apparently, :)). This, too, wants more than I have time to give. But this'll have to do.

Discuss.

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6 thoughts on “Sinners and Saviors–Ghost Rider”

  1. transformation! what a wonderful promise that i do not have to be forever chained to the depravity in which i was born!

    what hope! what joy! what motivation!

    the life we are trying to live is not about following rules for rules sake, or stifling the fun out of human existence… rather, it is

    about shedding light on a darkened soul,
    painting bright red-strokes of love across dull, calloused hearts, about raising dead men to newness of life (romans 6),
    about transforming that which is corrupt into incorruptible…

    how marvelous, how wonderful!
    and my song shall ever be,
    how marvelous, how wonderful,
    is my Savior’s love for me!

    great post. don’t know a thing about the comics stuff…
    (thanks for not giving up on my blog, too…)

    stephen

  2. It’s interesting that, for the heroes (or villains), that humanist ideal is in place, showing them to only be what they truly are. Yet, for the general population (g.p.), the absolute need for a Savior (from whatever Evil happens to be threatening them) is what comes to the forefront. And, often, the Evil guy will provide some sort of temporary relief or fix. The g.p. trusts him for a while before his true motivations are revealed and the Hero has to come in a save the day.

    Man, do you think those comic writers back in the day were dealing with some pretty serious questions in their own lives, or what? To me, it’s just one more thing that points to the fact that humans have a built in (to put it in Plumb’s words) God-shaped hole. Stan Lee et. al. tried to fill it with Superheroes. We understand there’s only one thing that will truly complete us.

  3. Thanks, Ben and Stephen, for the comments.

    Michelle, I think you’re right. I believe our longing for a hero (got that Eighties song zooming through my head now) is one more proof of what theologians call ‘general revelation’. Everything in our world, our own psyches included, demonstrates the power and wonder of the God who made it.

  4. But that was always the point of Ghost Rider, was it not? An anti-hero created in an age where men were fighting and dying in a war they didn’t really believe in.

    Personally, I feel this movie will be another nail in the coffin.

  5. You may be right, Jerry, but about what? I mean, a nail in which coffin?

    Sure, Ghost Rider’s an antihero. And he’s countercultural to say the least. After all, demon possession isn’t exactly in vogue. If that were the human race’s only hope… And if, as some have suggested, Ghost Rider is the Marvel Universe’s angel of death/vengeance, then maybe he best exemplifies the lengths to which some will go to fight evil. After all, essentially, Ghost Rider fights evil with evil.

    And maybe war approaches that. I’m still a little ambivalent about the so-called war on terror, and the Iraq fiasco.

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