Movie Monday: The Fantastic 4

Most of you know, I love watching culture shape, shift, and change the way we look at the real world.  I’m always interested to see how stories are told, and how we adopt the outlook of a specific series of films to guide the way we do life.

It seems to me, movies at the theater have turned more into the ‘best of’ comic book stories.  For some reason, we love to sit in a dark room to be swept away into a world of super powers fighting evil to restore the world to a place of sustainability.  No one does this genre better than the Marvel Comic franchise.

Last Friday, I took the boys to go see Fantastic 4.  If anyone is consumed by the super hero trend, it’s my 10 and 11 year olds.  So I go along to be a good dad, try to understand what they’re thinking, and ultimately have some good conversations on the drive home from the theater.

Fantastic 4 Review

I’ll go ahead and do a little review at the beginning here.  That way, if you’re not interested in the analysis, you can just read this part and get on with your day.

To be honest, there’s really no surprise.  The Fantastic 4 lines up with the comics about as good as any Super Hero inspired movie.  Although this version is a little more believable than the first one that came out a few years ago, the elements are the same.  Dr. Doom, Reid – the Stretchy man, the invisible girl, the Thing, and the Torch, are all on display.  The special effects are awesome, and with a little willing suspension of disbelief, you can actually begin to believe this new band of vigilantes will come to help the world be a better place.

The acting is what you would expect from the genre, and the lead into another sequel is prominent.  Overall, it’s a great 2 hours to escape from reality, and just enjoy a good comic film.

The Reason Comic Book Movies Capture our Attention

I think it’s a very compelling time in history to make comic book movies.  I know this has been going on for the better part of two decades, but when we look at the world around us, I wonder….

I wonder if we’re longing for someone to come and rescue our world from all the places we see evil peeking through the fabric of our lives.  We see these monstrous groups around the world committing all kinds of atrocities, and there seems to be little any one can do to stop it.

Our modern heroes are the diplomats, the military, and other peace making groups trying to attack the problems at different angles; but evil still remains.

I wonder if we’re trying to find a place of safety and security in someone who might have some kind of super power to end evil in our world?  I’m convinced the human race has a deep longing to live in a world where we can focus on being free.

We want to live our lives how we see fit.
We want to live in a way we can achieve our dreams.
As a parent, I just want to provide for my children.
I want to enjoy the earth and the beauty in and around me.
And when I see evil threatening my view of life, a twinge of fear begins pulsing through my veins.

Questions like:  What would I do if I was powerless before some of these groups?  Or, what if someone was trying go change my life without my input, what super hero would come and help me?  And for those more in tuned with the Marvel version of Super Hero – What super power would help me achieve my goals and remove the obstacles keeping me living in fear?

I think we want a hero.

I also think our culture is undergoing a crisis of courage.

I work with students, and I can tell you from first hand experience, today’s student doesn’t lack in energy and ideas.  Today’s High School and University Student is living in a world where adventure is at the top of the priority list.  The kids I run with are always looking for the next river to conquer, the next mountain to climb, and the next culture to understand.

But within that desire for adventure, there’s always a cost-benefit calculation.  It sounds something like this:

I don’t know if I can do that…there’s just no way.
I’m not sure I’m ready to travel that far.
What if I commit to doing something, and I fail?
What if I waste my time?

And there is the crisis.  They long to go and have the adventure to post online, but if it’s not set up for success, or the outcome of the adventure doesn’t have clear vision, we find students comfortable sitting in their rooms waiting for something else.

What I love about the comic movies I’ve seen this year is that most of the super heroes have a crisis of life.  They fail BIG!!  They have to overcome obstacles to find out how to use their gifts for the greater good.  From Ant-Man to Iron Man, there’s always some kind of courageous belief they have to get over before they save the world.

I think the ability for us to help students see STRUGGLE is important for the revelation of their own passion is one of the most noble teaching times in our world today.  We must create space for failure and struggle.  Else, we’ll continue seeing students waiting to have the courage to go out and achieve great things without the knowledge of complete success.

On the drive home, the boys were encouraged.  They have a place to try and fail here in our house, and I hope I can continue to encourage them to live life to the fullest inside their gifts and talents.

Let me know what you think

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