One of the most difficult decisions parents face is deciding what types of TV shows and movies
their kids can watch—and when. It must seem to our kids (especially our teenagers) like we live
in the land of “no”—particularly when their friends seem to have a different set of rules. Our new
book, Hollywood Heroes: How Your Favorite Movies Reveal God, will help make some of those
hard choices easier and help you teach your kids important life lessons in the process—all while
doing something that they want to do anyway.

For those curious about why kids seem to have such an insatiable appetite for these
types of movies, games, and shows, we look to the great Christian apologist C. S. Lewis, who
famously wrote, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most
probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”

— C.S. Lewis

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What is that desire? Who better to answer that question than Batman! In The Batman
(2022), Batman (played by Robert Pattinson) says: “Vengeance won’t change the past, mine or
anyone else’s. I have to become more. People need hope. To know someone is out there
for them” (emphasis ours).

Batman is acknowledging one of our deepest and most natural desires, something that
is affirmed over and over again in the Bible: our desire for a Savior who will bring us to a world
without pain and suffering. The desire your children have to see and experience a visible savior
in the form of a fictional hero is the exact same desire that the apostle Paul revealed to the
Greeks in his famous speech in Athens (Acts 17). Paul even used the stories of his day to direct
people to Christianity. So why not us, Savior who will bring us to a world without pain and
suffering too?

Hollywood Heroes shows how your favorite movie heroes are patterned after the
Ultimate Hero—Jesus of Nazareth—and how the stories we see played out on the big screen
often parallel the real-world fight between good and evil. Let’s give three brief examples:

1. Captain America (Steve Rogers).

Everyone’s favorite Captain (played by Chris
Evans) has starred in seven movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
Captain America is the poster child for what we look for in a hero. He’s the leader of
the Avengers despite clearly being outclassed in power by other heroes on the team.
His most important trait is that he is incorruptible—a trait he had even when he was
just a scrawny kid trying to enlist in the Army in World War II. Once he makes up his
mind, he will literally move heaven and earth to accomplish his goal. The guy was
even willing to fight the evil supervillain Thanos and his entire army in Avengers:
Endgame by himself—it’s one of the most iconic scenes in the entire MCU. It’s even
better in the screenplay:
Steve stares at Thanos and his army. And even in the face of such overwhelming
odds . . . he gets to his feet.

Thanos stares, almost sad, as Steve tightens the broken shield on his arm . . .
One man against thousands. All alone.
Imagine if we could use that as an example to inspire our kids to stand up against
evil in the world today.

2. Iron Man (Tony Stark).

Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.) is probably the
most iconic hero of the MCU. Tony Stark starts off as the antithesis of Steve
Rogers—a self-described “billionaire, playboy, philanthropist” who has more than his
fair share of self-destructive behaviors. At first Tony is an object lesson showing that
the pop-culture myth to “follow your heart’s desire” is a recipe for disaster (Jeremiah
17:9). At one point he even muses, “I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally
save the world. So why can’t I sleep?” Yeah, why is that? Ask your kids, “Why isn’t
Tony Stark happy or fulfilled?” We know the answer: He has everything to live with
and nothing to live for. We then see Tony grow before our very eyes over the course
of the saga. He becomes a family man who learns to live for others rather than for
himself. If the Tony Stark in the first Iron Man could meet the one at the end of
Avengers: Endgame, he would barely recognize himself.

3. Wonder Woman (Diana Prince).

Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) is probably
the best-known female superhero of all time, and in recent years she has finally
gotten her chance to shine on the silver screen. As a daughter of the Greek god,
Zeus, Diana has incredible physical powers. But a non-physical power shines above
all the rest: love. The most important lesson that Diana teaches us over the course of
her time on screen is the need for us to love not only each other but also our
enemies. In doing so, she also shows us the importance of loving in accordance with
the truth—a forgotten art in our culture where loving someone is now akin to enabling
their behavior regardless of the consequences. In Wonder Woman 1984 she faces
off against the villain Max Lord, who represents the lustful heart of humanity.
Interestingly, Wonder Woman doesn’t defeat Max on the battlefield as you might
expect; instead, she shows him the truth about his behavior. In his terrible pursuit of
power Max has neglected to take care of his son, who is nearly killed in the carnage.
Diana is able to show Max (and the rest of humanity) that love is only possible if it is
clothed with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6).

Interested? We’re just getting started. As you’ll see in Hollywood Heroes, there are many
more helpful parenting lessons to talk about in those and other megahit movie franchises. And it
comes with the added benefit of being able to disciple your kids by doing something that they
enjoy (and without you getting too “preachy”). So grab your popcorn, and get your family movie
night ready!