I somehow skipped the comic book/graphic novel stage during childhood, but encountered this mode of storytelling one summer afternoon in the stacks of a London university library.
Since then, the comic book industry has enjoyed a popular renaissance, and both the theaters and the web streaming services are full of comic adaptations.
Luke Cage is one of them. It’s set in my new neighborhood, it’s gritty and violent, and it features a villain who obsessively quotes the judgment and vengeance verses of the Bible.
As I’ve worked through the first season, I find myself remembering two other Bible-obsessive film villains: Julius from Pulp Fiction and the Warden in The Shawshank Redemption.
Hearing the Christian scriptures tumble from the mouths of cruel, manipulative, and sadistic characters was jolting twenty years ago, and it should have been.
In the second decade of the 2000s, however, it’s a little less so. It might even be increasingly realistic, and as a Christian and person of faith, I’m wrestling with why.
What about the way religion and religious people function in this society makes this kind of character so easy for our screenwriters to write? What about my community’s practice of our religion has diminished our surprise at religiously rationalized violence not far away but right here, and not by Others but by Us?