Faith & Fandom
Justice League: Know Who You Are
Updated: Jan 12, 2021
I know plenty of people have beef with the 2017 Justice League movie. I know the box office was insanely unimpressive. Personally though, I loved it. I know I'm a DC fanboy, but I think it was a great effort despite its insane number of setbacks. That disclaimer aside, my favorite scene in Justice League (and one of my favorite scenes in any film) is the "Pet Cemetery" scene, when freshly arisen Superman arrives in front of his decimated monument and is subsequently confronted by his soon-to-be teammates.
One of the statements Diana makes in that scene is that he had forgotten who he was. If you had just died by getting impaled by a troll from Lord of the Rings after having a mommy fight with your emo best friend, and were brought back to life by the technology of two alien worlds, and greeted by some anxious cosplayers, you might be a little confused too. While his circumstances may be unique, the situation is far from foreign. There are many moments, occasions, and seasons that we straight up forget who we are. We may not have amnesia, but our choices, actions, and words clearly show we don't know who we are. Regaining the awareness of our identity can be an ugly process at times, but it's so necessary.
Diana takes it upon herself to remind Superman of who he is, this is something I would have assumed her to take on, but considering she was the only person in front of him at the time who he actually knew, she didn’t have a lot of options. She ensnares him with the lasso of truth and calls out to him; "Kal El, Last Son Of Krypton, remember who you are!" She calls him by the name that no one Earth calls him by. She calls him the name of his home world. She reminds him of where he comes from, what his name stands for, who his people were. By addressing him in this way she was drawing on the power of not only where he came from, but all his past had made him to be. Obviously, it wasn’t enough in itself to snap him back to reality, but you could see it was a start.
The same thing can also be true for us, when we have forgotten who we are, we need to remind ourselves of where we came from. When Paul was addressing the Philippian church, he used his background to not only show them who he had been, but also what that means in relation to who he was as he wrote those words.
"Though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put
confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless." - Philippians 3:4-6.
He may have been a cocky apostle, but he never let go of who he was before Jesus called and empowered him. He let this be a reminder to what his true identity was constantly. We can learn from Diana and Paul to let our backstory and history be a reminder of not only who we were, but who we are and who we are becoming. Even though Paul was quick to recall the past, he also kept it in strong perspective. He writes in the same book, "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ" (Philippians 3:7). For Christians,
remembering our past should not only remind us of our journey, but also remind us that our identity is found just as much in the future of who Christ is shaping us to be.
Once salty Clark manhandles his way through the rest of the league, Bruce finally shows his face. Now I know this could have been him hiding out of sight as not to provoke Clark, but personally, I have another theory. I think the rest of the league was so quick to pursue the resurrected Man of Steel that they all just left Bats behind, and he had to jog his bulky utility belt clad butt all the way to the battle. I just like picturing a sad Batlfeck running across the field yelling out, "Guys....wait for me..."
Anyway, once Batman appears, Superman quickly states, "I remember you."
Up until Doomsday killed Superman, Batman had been Clark's main point of frustration. He had tormented him, called him out, mocked him, beat him to traumatic levels, and almost killed him. Even though Luthor was behind most of his drama, Batman represented all of the pain and trouble Clark had endured in the time up to his death. Batman also was a representative of the fact that Batman had started the actions that lead to his death. He represented all the pain and the conflict. This is easily demonstrated when Clark stated, "You won't let me live, you won't let me die." He was fully aware of his circumstances, and that he had actually died and was now alive again. Seeing Bruce made him remember much more of who he was because it brought back vivid reminders of what he had overcome.
I think the same can be true of us as well. When we look back at what we have overcome, it reminds us of who we are. When we look at the pain we've endured and survived, it reminds us of who we are. On an even greater scale, when we remember that we were previously dead and are now alive in more ways than we ever were, it can remind us of who we are indeed. We may not have physically died yet, but we have all faced spiritual death in sin, and in Christ, we are not only alive again, but more alive than ever.
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." - Ephesians 2:1-5
While remembering what he had experienced and the death he overcame did cause Superman to grasp his identity, it didn't exactly cause him to be the hero the world needed. It caused him to make various parts of Batman to be rather bleedy. On our end, remembering what we have overcome and the death we have victory over should not only be a reminder of our true identity, but it should inspire us towards love, obedience, grace, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness (all the things I'm sure Batman wished Superman possessed in that scene).
Our victory over death should remind us of not only who we are in our flesh, but also who we are in the victory of Christ, and like the symbol of hope Superman wears, it calls us to be more than who we are in our own broken, sinful state. We need to strive to move towards life in Christ and not allow our identity to ever shift back into our broken sinful estate. When Superman and Cyborg were pulling the Mother Boxes apart and were facing the potentially catastrophic aftermath, Superman jovially told Cyborg he didn't want to go back to being dead with, "I like being alive." We need to let what we have overcome not just remind us that we are no longer dead, but also remind us to not willingly go back into that death, because our true identity isn't found there.
When Batman and Wonder Woman both failed to remind Clark of the truth of his identity, they brought in the big guns: Lois.
-- On a side note, I'm super grateful it was Lois, not Martha, because I seriously couldn't take another movie of Martha jokes from the Marvel side of the internet. --
When they brought in Lois, Clark was quick to toss Batman's helpless body aside and come to his love. She didn't have to say much, convince him of anything, or prove a point. She just had to be there and love him. Clark knew above all else that Lois was not only the person he loved, but also the person that loved him. Their love quickly reminded him of his identity. He
was able to let down his guard, fly away home with his love, and return to who he truly was.
That's what love can do for us. Knowing who loves us gives us value, confidence, worth, and peace. Much of our identity is comprised of who loves us and who we love. Jesus even stated that the world will know our identity by our love, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Sometimes when we are lost, being reminded by those who love us that they care, haven't abandoned us, and still see us as whole no matter how broken we are can make all the difference. Seeing other's love for us is like a mirror to our identity. Lois clearly showed Superman who he is, but the love we receive is so much greater than anything Amy Adams could portray on screen.
When we trust in God's love for us to remind us of our identity, we can see who we truly are beyond any question, and see how His love shapes not only who we are, but how we love as well.
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us."
- 1 John 4:16-19
In the presence of God's love in our life, we see how we fit in the picture of all of creation and existence. We see our role, identity, and where we belong. Our fear is cast away, and we are made complete. Just as Superman was firmly re established in his identity by the love of Lois, we are established in our identity by the love of God. God's love not only shows us who we are, but who He is. His love then becomes the filter and perspective in which we see everything. His love is what allows us to see the truth more completely than anything else. Just as Superman used his X-Ray vision to examine his team, God's love allows us to see the world beyond just the surface, to the heart of the Creator and the creation.
It's easy to feel lost. It's easy to be so overwhelmed by this world that we behave in ways that don’t fit who we are. It's easy to allow the discouragement and frustration of what we go through to bring actions out in us we wouldn't normally consider. However, forgetting who you are doesn't mean you lose your identity. Remind yourself of where you come from. Remind yourself of what you've overcome. Remind yourself of who loves you.
Sometimes it's not you who has forgotten though. The people in your life may lose their way as well. In those times, you can do the work of God by being that reminder. Hopefully the people you remind won't have overly aggressive super powers, but you never know. Be the one to encourage and remind the people you love of who they truly are. Be the one to assure
them of their identity. Be the one to bring them back from the edge.
One of my other favorite moments in the movie is when Superman finally shows back up in full costume, and Batman has this brief fanboy moment of joy on his face. I think at that moment, Batman knew Superman had finally returned and the guilt of all he put Clark through was lifted. He could finally breathe. Trust me it's a beautiful feeling to see someone who has lost their way return home. Jesus thinks so too when he says in a parable, "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent" (Luke 15:7).
If you've forgotten who you are, God is waiting to remind you and rejoice with you when you realize. If you are the one reminding others, you are helping bring people back to the life God has given them, and the future He has for them.
"Tell me who you are."- Wonder Woman