Christian Comment with Steve Woodcock, senior pastor with the Five Valleys Christian Fellowship.

IN THE era of the Great Depression and the Second World War the first superhero comics appeared in America and gradually filtered out to the wider world. The most popular characters included Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. In 1978 they started to hit the big screen, Superman was first and grossed hundreds of millions at the box office. The 1980s saw a dozen or so Superhero movies released. The 1990s witnessed almost 30 releases of caped and masked heroes saving the day. The first decade of the new Millennium was flooded with about 50 cinematic escapades of heroes and heroines defying death, battling with their dark sides and overcoming the bad guys. Our current decade will probably eclipse the last (The Dark Knight and The Avengers have each grossed over one billion dollars).

On the whole the movie companies make films to make money but they only make money if we watch the films. So why do we have such a growing appetite for characters so unlike ourselves? Do we watch them just to escape the drudgery of life? Do we just like to watch these people do the things that we could never do? Or just maybe we have been designed with an inner hope and a longing for something far greater than ourselves and these superheroes are filling the gap.

Why not consider Jesus? He was tempted by evil, loved by the people, viewed suspiciously by the authorities, he spoke up on behalf of the marginalised, he did the impossible, he brought hope to the hopeless and help to the helpless, he rose from the dead and defeated the enemy. Perhaps only he could really fill the gap.