Theology and the X-Men
For anyone not reading Marvel Comics House of X and Powers of X, I urge you to go and read them. This week marks the end of the books and the series. The author Johnathan Hickman is taking the merry band of mutants to a whole new level. The story telling is complex, but beautiful as it is coming together. I have not read the end of the series Powers of X #6, but I am sure it will be explosive, amazing, and breath taking.
So why I am writing about the X-Men on a Christian blog? The simple answer is theology. As I have read through the storyline of Hickman's work, it is asking big questions. Many of the themes are bringing up theological discussions. The books are pushing the boundaries and what it means to be human, resurrection, and death/exile. I do not want to spoil the book and the story, so I will not touch on the first two themes, but I will talk about death/exile.
In the narrative, the mutants have created a mutant nation. They have done this in
the past, but I promise this is a bigger deal. As the leaders gather, they decide the fate of a person who has seemingly broken all the rules. But what punishment do you give to someone who is not like humans? What do you do to someone who does not die? In the scene where the leaders are weighing their options as a Christian, I cannot help but be drawn to think of New Creation. What do you do once all are resurrected, but not all want to play nice? What do you do with the people who reject Christ and God's kingdom. Over the years people have talked about fire and torment, exile, and ultimate death for people who do not want to participate.
In the end, the leaders decide exile for their fellow mutant. However, they cannot send the person back out into the world to inflict more chaos and death into the world. They explain there is no prison, which strikes a chord with me as one of the gospel messages is to set the prisoners free. One question I have always had about the theology of Hell is that it sounded like a prison, but the powerful message of the gospel has in it to set the prisoner free.
So what do the mutant leaders decide? They exile him. The imagery is the person going underground. The explanation given is that the person will live in, "stasis...alive, but immobile...aware but unable to act on it." The exile of the mutant becomes a powerful image for me as I reflect on my readings of Shades of Sheol by Philip S. Johnson. In the book, Johnson explores all the times the place sheol is mentioned in the Bible. Sheol is the grave; the place people go after we die. The description given is a place underground, where people are aware of what is going on but unable to act on it. They are seemingly lifeless because they do not have the living breath of God in them.
Deep theology is being thought and played out in a pop-cultural narrative. I think it is being well done and brings plenty of deep reflection for anyone paying attention. I have enjoyed seeing biblical and Christian themes played out in a medium that is getting worldwide attention. Many nerds like myself have seen that Marvel and Disney use Hickman inspired stories in their giant global box office smashing movies. The X-Men are coming to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), so I wonder if we will see some of these Christian themes and ideas show up as well?
I will wait a bit, and when the stories have been released for a while, I will dive deep into the Christian themes presented in the book. I will even update this one, so the details are more flushed out.