Essays and Articles
- Should we be fighting evil with another kind of evil? The ultimate antihero messiah for the post-9/11 "War on Terror" era apparently can be found in The Chronicles of Riddick, the sequel to Pitch Black. Overcoming evil with evil, unfortunately, seems to be the spirit of the times.
- Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 offer surprisingly profound spiritual lessons when unmasked from their comic-book disguise. No other films have so evocatively explored the downside of being a superhero. Peter Parker, the reluctant everyman messiah, must constantly choose between self-interest and self-sacrifice, choose between his own needs and those of others, choose between his own social life and social obligation, and make all these choices while being misunderstood and unappreciated. Being a superhero never seemed so difficult. Read Unmasking the Spirituality of Spider-Man.
In the mythology of the very influential The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien employed several Christ figures, the most obvious being the wizard Gandalf. In Tolkien's "fundamentally religious and Catholic" novel, the symbolism of Gandalf's "death and resurrection" scenes was implicit, but Peter Jackson's film versions visually made Gandalf's Christ-figure symbolism more explicit.
Read "Middle Earth's Messianic Mythology Remixed: Gandalf's Death and Resurrection in Novel and Film." This article will explore:
• The cultural impact of Tolkien's mythology
• The meaning of myth to Tolkien
• The characteristics of a Christ figure
• What a Christ figure subtext may add to the psychological/mythological impact of a work of art
• How Gandalf's death and resurrection scenes portrayed him as a Christ figure
• How these two scenes in the films diverged from the book
• The possible meaning of that divergence (of the mythology remixed)
(This article is published on the Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.)
- Superman, the original superhero, is a culmination of the great mythic heroes of the past. The hero's journey, a recurring cycle of events in mythology, is described by Joseph Campbell. The three acts in Superman: The Movie portray a complex calling to the superhero's role, consisting of three distinct calls and journeys. Each of the three stages includes the death of someone close to him, different symbols of his own death and resurrection, and different experiences of atonement with a father figure. Analyzing these mythic cycles bestows the viewer with a heroic "elixir." Read "The Superhero's Mythic Journey: Death and the Heroic Cycle in Superman." (This article is published on the Journal of Religion and Film.)
- Because of the real-life coincidences surrounding this film, it could be the eeriest movie ever made. Read review of The Crow.
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