Superman Isn't Jesus
Despite what you may have heard, the "man of steel" is no Son of Man.
With every new Superman movie, this rumor that fans look to him as the savior of humanity spreads through trailers and interviews. The directors of the last two Superman flicks found religious symbolism particularly attractive, layering on clunky monologues and heavy-handed parallels between Superman, born as Kal, the "only son" of the House of El, who was "sent to Earth to save it," and Jesus Christ, the only son of God, who was sent to save humanity.
"He's a Christlike figure. There's no two ways about it." Zack Snyder, director of the new Man of Steel, confirmed to the Los Angeles Times.
I disagree. Even as a comic hero-loving Christian, I don't see Superman as a savior. The greatest superhero of all time? Absolutely. An enduring character I'm happy to watch again and again? Yes. But it doesn't take an act of God to make a superhero worthwhile. Superman represents different things to different people; to me, he's the ultimate volunteer, using his unique talents for others out of a Midwestern sense of "pitching in" on a large scale.
Even with a complex, longstanding hero like Superman, it's no accident that the Christian imagery comes up so often, from Entertainment Weekly to Fox News. Man of Steel is the latest blockbuster to get the Christian-marketing treatment, wroteRNS blogger Jonathan Merritt.
"Warner Brothers, the studio behind the film that grossed more than $125 million this weekend, hired faith-based public relations firm Grace Hill Media to make sure the Christian market didn't miss the connections," he said.
How could we miss them? Richard Corliss of Time Magazine breaks down the (many) explicit parallels drawn between Kal-El and Jesus:
Man of Steel takes its cue from Bryan Singer's 2006 Superman Returns, which posited our hero as the Christian God come to Earth to save humankind: Jesus Christ Superman. Goyer goes further, giving the character a backstory reminiscent of the Gospels: the all-seeing father from afar (plus a mother); the Earth parents; an important portent at age 12 (Jesus talks with the temple elders; Kal-El saves children in a bus crash); the ascetic wandering in his early maturity (40 days in the desert for Jesus; a dozen years in odd jobs for Kal-El); his public life, in which he performs a series of miracles; and then, at age 33, the ultimate test of his divinity and humanity. "The fate of your planet rests in your hands," says the holy-ghostly Jor-El to his only begotten son, who goes off to face down Zod the anti-God in a Calvary stampede.
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