In what Marvel movie has the earth ever saved itself? When has mankind (I’m speaking as a whole) ever looked within, dug deep, and defeated the monster just in time for the ending credits to roll? I’ve counted. That’s happened exactly zero times. The superheroes save the earth. The deathblow is dealt by someone who stands outside the rank and file human being. The source of salvation is always located outside the ones needing to be saved.
We should ponder this reality long and hard and ask ourselves why storytellers continue to tell their stories this way. I would suggest we hear in these stories an echo of a truth that is buried in the deepest recesses of every last human heart. It’s the truth that we can’t save ourselves. We really do need a hero—super or otherwise—who stands somewhere outside ourselves but who can reach down, meet us where we are, and pull us up to salvation.
I would argue these stories reflect the elephant in the room that our subconscious continues to scream while our conscious thoughts often run in exactly the opposite direction. “Look within,” we say with our words. “You can save yourself,” we say. “You don’t need anything but the guidance and strength of your own heart.” But such mutterings are philosophy, empty philosophy that the stories we continue to tell in books and on screens contradict categorically. All the stories, right in line with what we know to be true if we were to be honest with ourselves for just a second, scream, “Look outside yourself. Look up and away to the one who’s coming. He’ll work your victory for you because he’s determined and he’s capable. He’s got the motivation and the ability. He’ll overcome, so you hang on to the external hope you find in the coming hero.”
And to think otherwise is to deceive yourself. It’s to run against the grain of your created soul. Please, listen. Please, don’t deceive yourself.