Consider a camera crew following a group of Navy officers and enlistees through BUD/S training to be come Navy SEALs--a program that has a washout rate of 75-80%. Endless pushups, 3-4 mile runs in combat boots, carrying logs and rafts in and out of the surf, and the wonderful encouragement by the instructors who feel the need to use reverse psychology to motivate. But I'm impervious to yelling. I'm awesome; I can take it.
Or there's a big movie that has a small group of soldiers staying on covert op missions for weeks at a time, having to rely on their own survival instincts to defeat the aliens/terrorists/rogue Canadians. There's someone who goes nuts and yells, "We're all gonna die!" right before getting shot in the back of the head, a woman who is tougher than all the guys put together, and somehow one guy has a samurai sword. It's the Ensign Ricky/GI Jane/Snake Eyes trifecta.
Boys' time with action figures has all this as well. They understand dispersing different weapons according to the user. The beefy guy will get either the biggest gun or the broadest sword. Someone will have the sword, someone will be going in with hand-to-hand combat, and the girl will miraculously survive it all. There needs to be some way to repopulate the world with good stock after nuclear annihilation, after all.
And the man says: I can do that.
2 Samuel 23 tells about King David's mighty men and some of their exploits that put all of these fictional heroes to shame. This one's my favorite:
Benaiah son of Jehoida, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab's two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian's hand and killed him with his own spear. (v. 20-21)A few verses later we find that King David put Benaiah in charge of his bodyguard. Probably a smart move. This is definitely the kind of guy you want to keep close. In fact, reading on past the death of David in 1 Kings, Benaiah helps establish Solomon's place as king of Israel (that means he went out and killed any past enemies of David who might come against Solomon).
But to the specifics: killing to Moabites--no big deal, right? They get beaten every now and then by Israel. Taking the spear away from an Egyptian--that's nothing. I've seen The Last Samurai. I saw how Tom Cruise was attacked by five ninja assassins, took one of their swords, and killed them all. And if a short guy with only a winter's worth of samurai training can take out 5 professional assassins, anyone can.
But the lion? Sorry. Not going there. I don't even know if the lion is injured, if he was tracking the lion, if he set the pit as a trap, or any other variables. For that matter, where do you find a lion and snow in the same part of the Middle East?
Boys will fight sharks, lions, dinosaurs, and dragons in their imaginations, and that bit of imagination still carries with us. A part of every man still wants to go out and be the greatest warrior imaginable--Russell Crowe caliber. This is why men keep watching these movies. Want a great man's afternoon? Braveheart, followed by Gladiator, then 300. See what happens when you monitor your blood pressure during all 3. There's no man can come out of there not wanting to pick up a sword, saying in the deep recesses of his mind, I can do that. GI Joe has nothing on me.
Men will fantasize about epic battles and try to put ourselves on par with Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, Green Berets, Minutemen, Guerrilla soldiers, and Chuck Norris. But jumping into a pit with a lion is where we draw the line.
Wait, okay, I can do that.