John Hancock (Will Smith) is not your clean-cut, straight-arrow superhero in the mold of Spiderman or Superman. Most definitely not. Hancock is a superhero despised by most everyone. Along with his superhuman strength and his super-sonic flying abilities, he’s a drunk, sarcastic, inconsiderate bum. He recklessly wrecks untold damage on his surroundings as he goes about doing his ‘stopping the bad guys’ superhero thing. People, cars, buildings – they’re all expendable to Hancock.
As a result, this dude is in serious need of a public image makeover.
Voila…enter the ‘Publicist’ on the scene to save the day. Conveniently, Hancock saves a publicist, who in turn sets about trying to ‘save’ Hancock by rehabilitating his public image, only to find that Hancock begins an affair with the publicist’s wife. What a way to return the favor of an image makeover…All that to say, in Hancock we definitely have a fallible superhero – plenty of character flaws and shortcomings here.
Like Hancock, we all have character flaws and behavioral issues that make us likely candidates for an image makeover. But an image makeover only touches the surface, our real ‘issues’ go much deeper. In fact, Jesus had some pretty harsh words for those who are concerned with their outer image, rather than their inner soul. Check out his words to some of the religious leaders of his day in Matthew 23:
You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You’re like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down its all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you’re saints, but beneath the skin you’re total frauds (Matthew 23:25-28, The Message).
As you can see, Jesus is basically pretty outraged that these guys are only concerned with their outer image, when what they really need is a ‘soul makeover’. And a soul makeover is something only He can help us with; we don’t need a publicist or marketing expert for it. We need a personal relationship with The One who offers forgiveness of sin, cleanses our souls and extends to us the free gift of a restored relationship with God, all by simply trusting in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross.
We all have ‘issues’ that need addressing at a deeper level. Flawed superhero Hancock can serve as a springboard for talking about the spiritual dimension of those ‘issues’ with our friends.
Ask your friends if they, or someone they know, wrestle with self-destructive or addictive behavior like Hancock did in the movie.
- Do you think an image makeover is the best way to deal with those kinds of issues? Why or why not?
- Ask your friends what they think about Jesus’ concept of a ‘soul makeover’ rather than an ‘image makeover’.
- Explain how Jesus saved some of His harshest words for those who were acting like hypocrites. Why do you think that was the case?
- Share how Jesus’ message of inner transformation through His grace and forgiveness can save us from being hypocrites only concerned with outward appearance, rather than authentic, genuine individuals in pursuit of soul satisfying relationships.
To film Hancock’s super-sonic flying abilities, Will Smith was repeatedly suspended by wire 200 feet above the ground and was propelled at 50 miles per hour – probably a pretty uncomfortable undertaking! Sometimes we too are called to step up to the uncomfortable. So even if sharing your faith with your friends feels uncomfortable to you, pray, then dive in and go for it!
Jane Dratz serves as Editor for Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S) in Arvada, Colorado, a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teenagers to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information about D2S, please visit www.dare2share.org.