IVP: In what ways do superheroes tap into our spiritual
David Zimmerman: Superman can do virtually anything, and no one could stop him. So what compels him to consistently do good? Spider-Man is nearly consumed with guilt at virtually any given moment, even though he's done countless heroic acts. What keeps him going? Superheroes tap into our mythical impulse and give us a means of testing our ethics and even our core beliefs about what it takes to keep the world spinning.
IVP: So why do comic book heroes wear costumes and hide their identities? Why is the disguise significant?
Zimmerman: Why does anyone hide their identity, really? At least superheroes are honest about it: "I don't want you to know who I am, so I'll put a mask over my face and I'll change my name." But everyone hides who they are, to some extent. We suffer a certain amount of dis-integration as a result. I talk in the book about my attempt to redefine who I was when I went off to college; I changed my look and my behavior, and I wound up literally disgusted with myself. Secret identity in comic books is a foil for the big reveal: what changes when we are finally free to be our whole self around people we want to know and be known by?
IVP: So how are Superman and Jesus alike?
Zimmerman: If I were to cast Superman in the Gospels, he would play Pontius Pilate: a guy with supreme power but who inevitably acquiesces to the will of the crowd and commits the most tragically evil act in history--the execution of the Son of God. Jesus and Superman are similar in that they're both super-men--one raised as a human but endowed with powers by virtue of being an alien, the other literally the God-Man--but while Superman exists to advance an industry and maintain the status quo, Jesus seeks to draw us back into fellowship with our Creator. They're superficially very similar, but ultimately their goals are irreconcilable.
IVP: Why did you decide to write Comic Book Character?
Zimmerman: I started thinking about Comic Book Character in the warm afterglow of my first viewing of the film Daredevil. I was reminded afresh of how influential the stories I had read in my childhood had been over my expectations of life and my understanding of right and wrong. At the same time, I was seeing some of the limitations, even the disappointments, that those expectations had brought me to. The book is an attempt to dissect all the conscious and subconscious lessons being taught in comic book storytelling, and compare them to real life and a Christian worldview.