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Satan, Antihero?

Yes, you read that right. Thanks to the Fox Network, we now have a program with Satan as a crime fighting antihero. The tagline for the show is, “He gives bad a good name.”

Why did I say antihero instead of hero? Simple. He’s not entirely a good guy. He’s charming enough, smooth, and very carnal. He loves to punish the wicked. That’s the hook. We love to see the bad guy get what’s coming to him.

This is a growing cultural phenomenon. We seem to love characters that walk that fine line between good and evil. In the comics, The Punisher and Deadpool are two very popular antiheroes. When the Arrow series launched on the CW, the title character started out using deadly force. Fortunately, over time, the Arrow has evolved into a true hero that won’t take a life.

The first showed up in the late 80’s as a former FBI agent and Special Forces Vietnam Vet who lost his family to mafia hitmen who were trying to kill him. He snaps and goes after criminals with lethal force. He’s had three movies (none good). His white skull logo emblazons hoodies, tees, and hats. When it was announced that he would be in the second season of the Netflix series Daredevil, the internet almost exploded with excitement.

Deadpool, a.k.a. The Merc with a Mouth, The Regenerating Degenerate, is currently one of the most popular characters. He’s bizarre, over the top, and completely bonkers. He also enjoys killing a little too much for the rest of the Marvel cast of heroes. His humor, raunchiness, and his ability to kill while making jokes combine to make him a hugely popular character. His movie is one of the most anticipated films of this year and assuredly not for kids.

(For clarification, I get why you like these guys. I’m simplifying them for people who might not be familiar with them. I know they’re more complex than what I wrote, so please keep your hatemail to a minimum.)

Now add Satan. In the series, he solves crimes with a police detective he meets when he saves her daughter. Yes, you read that right. He saves her from a bully and punishes him. The series sets him up to take on the role that all these characters have in common. He is the ultimate punisher of the wicked. That’s why the series will do well.

The whole thing is based upon the bad theology and common cultural belief that Satan rules Hell and is responsible for torturing sinners in the hereafter. This is not a new idea. Dante’s Inferno holds to this idea and writings expressing it are much older. This is the most frequent depiction of Satan in popular culture. His job is to make certain that evil people receive what’s coming to them.

This isn’t even the first time that the enemy has been shown as good doing an evil job. In the 80’s, Piers Anthony released a series of books, The Incarnations of Immortality, in which Satan is portrayed as a good man serving as the current incarnation of evil. According to the series, Death, Evil, Fate,Evil, and even God (The incarnation of good), were once mortals who assumed their offices and serve the world as necessary to keeping everything in balance. Satan, the name chosen by the holder of the office of Evil in the series, was a powerful sorcerer who assumed the role with the help of a female demon. He has a conscience and even romances one of the other incarnations. At the time I read them, I wasn’t exactly a Christ follower and the idea of God and Satan as former mortals who could be replaced by someone else (God was replaced by a female ghost at the end of the series) struck me wrong.

Of course, we’re in a culture that is full of evil. The idea that there might be someone who deals out justice, even a twisted form of it, is very appealing. We want to see criminals get punished. The faith in the justice system isn’t very high on either side of the political aisle. I get that. So, of course, to a network executive who has no real grounding in the truth, Satan as a vigilante makes sense.

Combine the antihero angle with an ever increasing interest in the supernatural and this program will do well unless they really mess it up. I won’t be tuning in but I know people who will. Time will tell.

Please note: Protesting the show as unBiblical and Christian bashing won’t do a thing. We’re just not that popular anymore. If we were, this show would have never even been pitched. To stop it, hit your knees not the streets.

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