“Well, let me put it this way…”
“[Pauses]… No, I’m not going to try and be clever. I really don’t know. I just don’t know.”
This was Stan Lee’s response in an interview when asked if he believed in God. The quote popped into my mind when I heard that the Marvel Comic writer, publisher, and Editor-in-Chief passed away. For a man whose life was built around entertainment and visual storytelling, I find it hard to believe that God, the concept of a higher power, or a meaning beyond this life are topics that never came up.
Look at the characters he created. The Golden Age of comics (from 1920-1955) spawned some of the greatest superheroes the world has seen. Many of those characters are still being published today in one or more forms. I’m looking at you 111 variants of Batman.
But when post-WWII superheroes started to become less popular, Stan Lee introduced us to the greatest villain any superhero has ever had to face—themselves. Stan took us from the Golden Age of superhumans who were as powerful as gods and shifted the focus to characters who were first and foremost humans. The Invincible Iron Man was egotistical. The Incredible Hulk had uncontrollable rage. The Mighty Thor struggled with worthiness. Any of those sound familiar? I’ve struggled with the same selfishness that Tony Stark battled. I’ve sat in fear like Bruce Banner. I struggle with being out of place like Steve Rogers.
As much I connect with those characters—both the good and the bad—I don’t have any doubts on whether or not God exists. I too, will not try and be clever. I don’t need to be. Because I do know that God is real and does exist. I know this through the love that He has shown me. I know it when I read any great story that’s ever been written because any good plot is just a reflection of His original story. I know that God wrote on the cover of my story words to describe me. Not as I see myself in this world but instead as He sees me in his heart. Words like ‘Spectacular’, ‘Amazing’ and ‘Fantastic.’ I may not be superhuman, but God has made me a superhero any time I rely on his strength to overcome the brokenness in the world. Hopefully, I can live in a sacrificial way that reflects Jesus (like Lee’s superheroes) so fewer people end their lives saying “I really don’t know.”