I watched the movie Chronicle on iTunes yesterday.
If you’ve never seen it, Chronicle explores what it might be like to receive superpowers. One day, you’re ‘Joe Guy'; next day, you’re ‘Joe Awesome’—imbued with telekinetic power and the ability to fly. IMDb summarizes the plot this way:
Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.
You can watch the trailer here.
Not all heroes are super.
Does absolute power corrupt absolutely? This is the question the movie sets out to explore.
At first, the three buddies have a little private fun with their new powers. A moment comes, however, when they decide to “take it out of the back yard.” That’s when they realize they can have more than fun. They’re learning to wield potent power that can be harnessed both for good and for evil.
The central character in this film is Andrew, a troubled kid who’s beaten and bullied as a way of life. He’s a tangled mess of angry wires, charged and straining for an outlet. In a pivotal moment in the film, he tells his buddies that he really wants to fly to Tibet. When asked to explain this strange dream, he says, simply, “I just think it would be really peaceful.”
Peace. What he really craves. What we all really crave.
Unfortunately, Andrew’s loose wires are not plugged into something good and peaceful. As his world implodes around him, his emotional instability and darkened desires for revenge turn him into a living atom bomb. His descent into darkness reminded me of Anakin’s journey in Revenge of the Sith, except this is no Lucasfilm caricature. There are some pretty dark and twisted moments in this story. From the moment Andrew awakens to his power, you know it’s not going to end well.
Because “absolute power doesn’t corrupt absolutely,” says pastor Irwin McManus; “it exposes absolutely.” It doesn’t change us, it coaxes us into letting go of the boundaries that keep our personal ‘demons’ in check.
It shows us who we really are.
“Real” superheroes struggle intensely. Their greatest battles are always their inner ones. Their greatest enemy is always themselves. This is why it’s not enough to have Spider Man battling Doc Ock. No, he’s also fighting against himself. It’s why Venom and the black suit were such a problem; they brought out Peter’s dark side and forced him to deal with it.
No hero is entirely good, and no villain (save the devil himself) is totally evil. We love movies about heroes, I think, because we sense the same battle within ourselves. We want to watch someone face down their own darkness and win, to believe nobility can come out on top when push comes to shove. Anakins and Andrews make us uncomfortable because we know deep down the potential exists within each of us to face that darkness and lose. I am Harvey Dent, the two-faced struggler flipping coins every moment to see which side of me will win out.
Bottom line, the Bible says we’re all doomed to lose this battle without an infusion of love, wisdom, strength, and power from the incorruptible one, the only hero who lived and died and never lost a moment against the powers that be or the gravitational pull of human nature.
Jesus can make heroes out of all of us if we make a hero out of him. Not a cardboard character, mind you—but a living, breathing Muse, Mentor, and Messiah with a “Save the World” complex he wants us all to share under his forgiving leadership.
What about you? What are you doing to deal with your dark side?
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