As a child I never really esteemed superheroes like Batman, Superman, Spiderman, the Incredible Hulk, etc. Instead, I liked Scooby Doo, Dexter’s Laboratory, and The Powerpu–…. I suppose I never really appreciated superheroes and their inhuman feats because they seemed really fake–not that Dexter’s secret underground laboratory was any more realistic.
Maleficent was released in the summer of 2014 and I went to a very cute theater to watch it. We were a party of 3 and the theater only had loveseats, so the 3 of us scrunched up together in a loveseat for two in order to watch the flick. The film retold the story of Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the “Mistress of All Evil”.
The enthralling aspect of Maleficent was the ambiguity of the heroine herself. We all grew up categorizing Maleficent, the witch rife with jealousy and the eminence of evil, into the villain’s archetype. However, the film appealed to our compassionate tendencies and developed Maleficent into a character worthy of, if not deserving of, our sympathy. How is it that this Mistress of All Evil suddenly became the subject of my affection?
I saw Maleficent as a (super)hero, and I think I that allowed me to recognize the quality I esteem in my heroes: flaws. The hero’s mistakes make them authentic and relatable. They do great things out of love and/or duty, but these great things are not necessarily magnificent like redirecting an asteroid from Earth’s atmosphere or soaring across the Manhattan skyline. Instead, they are attempting to demonstrate a genuine love for others which ultimately manifests as a magnificent deed. Along the way, as many of us certainly have experienced, they make mistakes and commit errors they wish were erased. They regrettably harm others and are swallowed in their emotions. But since they are heroes, they continue to learn and try to love.
Furthermore, I’ve come to esteem the hero’s struggle with ambiguity. I enjoyed the small philosophical disagreement Daredevil and The Punisher had on a rooftop in Hell’s Kitchen. Both of them sought the pacification of criminals, but both of them had a different way of achieving that end. Each saw a flaw in the other, and I think that’s what makes me appreciate those heroes. No one is infallible or inerrant. Yet, despite his or her flaws, a hero still strives to love.
MC Jin’s track “Like A Rock” is about a son recalling his early relationship with his father and applying lessons learned from then to his relationship with his newborn son. Although I’ve never had a comparable conflict with my dad, I was captured by how this song characterizes fathers–particularly my own. The wisdom and advice in the song are what my father speaks to me in our conversations, and the sentiments and considerations are the same.
My dad is my hero. He is the authentic and relatable character I esteem. Despite his mistakes and errors, he continues to sacrifice himself for me out of love and as his act of love (1 John 3:16-18)–his love manifest as a magnificent deed. His sacrifices make me love him even more and make me proud to be his son. How can I develop into that same kind of man? For whom am I sacrificing myself? Who am I loving? What can I learn from my prior mistakes? How can I be a hero?