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Batman would crash and die

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

I grew up watching Batman and Robin outsmart the Joker, trick the Riddler, and put the Penguin on ice.  The Batman movies have brought the Caped Crusader into the technological age with varying measures of success.  (George Clooney’s Batman and Robin was voted worst film of all time, an honor it absolutely deserved.)  Now, as The Dark Knight Rises is set for release in 10 days, we learn this disconcerting news: Batman can’t fly.  To be more accurate, he could fly, but he couldn’t land.  To be absolutely precise, he could land but then he would die.

Students at the University of Leicester in England have debunked the crime fighter’s flight technique.  As we learned in Batman Begins, the superhero wears a cape that becomes rigid when electric current is passed through it, enabling him to glide over Gotham City as though he were a base jumper wearing a wingsuit.  However, the students determined that his winged cape is only half the size needed to ensure that he would survive the landing.  As is, it would create an impact with the ground equivalent to being struck by a car traveling 50 mph.  The students concluded, “at these high speeds any impact would likely be fatal if not severely damaging.”  In other words, if Batman landed at that speed, Robin and Alfred would be picking up the pieces.

The Amazing Spider-Man has already made $341.2 million worldwide.  The Avengers is the highest-grossing movie of the year and is number three all time.  Why are superhero movies so popular these days?  They offer escapism and entertainment, of course.  But I think another explanation is most instructive for our culture: superheroes offer us hope.  They have powers we’ll never possess and defeat villains that would destroy mere mortals.  When our society feels most overwhelmed by the adversity we face, you can count on comic book movies to flood our theaters.

The problem is that the movie ends and the problems we escaped are waiting for us.  The good news is that the King hasn’t abdicated his Kingdom.  He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).  Anything he has ever done, he can still do.  When Moses spoke to Israel before his death and their entry into Canaan, he reminded them of what God had already done to their enemies (Deuteronomy 31:4). Then he encouraged them to trust their King for what he would now do.

His word of hope is God’s invitation to you this morning, no matter what enemies you face: “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (v. 6).  Methodist minister Charles Allen was right: “When you say a situation or a person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”  The proverb says, “Hope never abandons you; you abandon it.”  I would say it differently: “God never abandons you, even when you abandon him.”  If Christ is your Lord, you’re safe in his omnipotent hand right now (John 10:28).  Why do you need that reminder today?