May the Fourth Be With You, Superheroes One and All

By historical coincidence, this May 6th is the day that Saint Francis Xavier arrived in the Portugese colony of Goa on the Indian coast, in 1542. One hundred and sixty years to the day later, the first bishop of Quebec, Francois de Laval, named after the famed missionary, went to his eternal reward. They’re probably still swapping stories in heaven.

May the Fourth, besides being the memorial of fellow Canadian Blessed Marie-Leonie Paradis, was also informally Star Wars day, a meme begun a few years ago, as in, may the fourth be with you, and all that. Many of us would like to be in a galaxy far, far away, and/or a long, long time ago.

I have despaired of the endless Star Wars, themselves caught in what seems a never-ending cycle. I have almost despaired of films in general. In my review of the film, perhaps I was too critical – I often am when assessing, as they are a sort of catharsis for films I dislike, which is part of the reason I don’t write many, and don’t watch many films.

The first week of May in 2002 which seems aeons ago, saw the opening of the first of the Spider Mans (men?), the first film to make over $100 million in its opening weekend. There was a freshness, a joie de vivre, in Toby McGuire’s new-found powers, and his realization that with great power, comes great responsibility, even the willingness to die to self. But the superhero franchise – endless and ever-more mindless – has not lived up to its initial promise, except in box office receipts, descending into visual spectacle, mopey and brooding introspection, clumsy deadening dialogue seemingly made up on the fly…

Perhaps the suffering through which are all journeying will give rise to a new kind of hero, the ordinary types once celebrated by Hollywood, and by our culture as a whole, the one who triumphs over ordinary obstacles in an extraordinary way, and for a purpose and end that transcends himself. Even Bannister running his miracle mile.

The only true story is the human one, the one we’re all living, the jagged and twisting path to holiness, even if imperfect and secular. God can use anything to bring us to heaven, and all we need do is say, fiat, let it be done to me, secundum verbum tuum, according to Thy word – and will.

That’s what makes life – and Hollywood, and indeed, all true art, imitating life – great.