Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Wednesday the 25th:

Robertson, “Sorcerers and Supermen,” in Religion and Science Fiction
   Read this essay first, and pay close attention to Robertson's claims.  Do you think it is useful to think about superheroes as modern equivalents of mythological gods?  What about robots and aliens?

Thor (2011)
   Of all the recent superhero movies, Thor best illustrates Robertson's thesis, since it is literally about gods who descend to earth in the midst of an epic battle.  As you watch, take notes on key moments and important dialogue.  Pay attention to the way that "science" and "magic" are discussed throughout the film.  Be sure to bring your notes to class.  Thor is available on Netflix- here's the link.

*Note: if you are low on time, fast forward through the gratuitous and formulaic fight scenes.  They are awful.

Looking forward to your comments below!


  1. 'Thor' absolutely embraced the idea of pictorial elements within religions. The film portrays Norse iconography (Thor's symbol, the patterns in the desert sand) as part of the visual fabric of the film, though not an integral aspect of the storyline. The acting I thought was very cartoonish, which suited this movie well in terms of the faces of people on-screen representing the human element within divinity.
    I have to say though that I liked Mr. Wednesday more than Anthony Hopkin's Odin.

    1. If you ever have the time and the inclination, watch the Cartoon Network show from a few years back called 'The Venture Brothers' which parodies both the Sci-fi genre as a whole, but specifically centered around comic book stereotypes. One of the main characters is a Dr. Strange-type figure named Dr. Morpheus

  2. What i liked about the essay was how Robertson made references to the fact that heros are something that existed long before Marvel or DC. Society likes to look at people who are larger than life. On the movie, as a marvel fan, I can saw that hollywood as a whole did a good job on it, not the best, but enough to get its point across. To focus on just the movie, I will say that using the Norse mythology in this way was unique and the idea of actually seeing the Gods was pretty cool. Marvel does a better job of explaining the science and magic of it all in the comics more so then it did in the movie of course

  3. Of the essay, I particularly enjoyed the segment on Doctor Strange, who is a particular favorite comic book hero of mine. The idea that he represented the growing trend away from organized religion, and further interest in more mystical and esoteric religious faiths was particularly interesting to me, and I enjoyed it immensely. Of the movie, I thought that of particular interest was the scene at 1:01:00, where the researchers debate the feasibility of Thor's story being true, and what exactly that would mean were it fact. When confronted with the accusation that the theory is merely science fiction, the theory is defended with the statement that, 'science fiction is merely a precursor to science'. I believe this statement is particularly significant to the class, given that most of our readings have dealt with science fiction which addresses possible scientific reality, and what exactly the ramifications would be religiously, where that the case.

  4. "The great heroes, the mythic heroes, have always reflected both what we are and what we desire to be. They both form, and are formed by, our continuous yet ever-changing culture" (33). After reading the chapter, this quote kind of stuck with me. It goes with our class discussions that we pick and choose our 'gods' in relation to our culture and what is going on in the world. I think believing in a higher power, maybe not God himself but 'mythic heroes' makes everything a little easier... that there's someone or something out there that makes the impossible possibe - it's something to believe in and to hold on to. I found this in Thor as well, when the scientist picked up the book about Thor and all the realms etc he spoke about how he had read it as a kid, that it was fantasy - but to see it come to life, that was incredible and awe-inspiring. To see something you worshiped as a kid right in front of you.