Sunday, June 16, 2013

Is Man of Steel all about Jesus? Warner Bros hopes Christians think so

I saw Man of Steel last Friday and all I can still say, even after several hours to process it, is: WOW!  The movie is at least the best live-action depiction of Superman ever released! It is one of the best movies based on a comic book that has ever been put to screen. Not trying to spoil any of it for those who have not seen it, but I saw an article about the connection to Christianity in the movie.

Warner Bros. paid a theologian, Pepperdine University's Craig Detwiler, to prepare a nine-page set of "sermon notes" for ministers who want to preach about Man of Steel, titeld "Jesus: The Original Superhero." The sermon notes ask, "How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?" And then the sermon includes stuff about the themes and ideas of Man of Steel, after which the pastor is encouraged to say, "Let’s take a look at the trailer for Man of Steel." 

The comments made on the article are also interesting. The issues here are very central. Is a movie like this just symbolizing Jesus, or are the artists that created this movie just using themes and concepts familiar to western civilization? Does art in this way bolster the message of Christianity or in some way cheapens it? To be clear, the makers of Man of Steel or Superman in general are not in anyway trying to inspire people to be come Christians like C.S. Lewis intended through his work in Chronicle of Narnia. Given the other films made by Zach Snyder it makes sense that Man of Steel would have some Christian iconography. Big surprise. Even the earlier Superman films included many allusion to "Savior" and "Messiah". It kind of goes with the character.

Let's not forget that Superman's first creators were young Jewish men who were inspired by Samson and Moses - which are according to Theology archetypes and predecessors who foreshadowed Jesus Christ. As the character grew through the years, Superman became more Christ centered.  I won't give examples from the movie to avoid spoilers but there were at least 4 that I thought that were very blatant examples of making Superman look like Jesus.

I would avoid reading the following article until after you see the movie, but it is good to bear in mind that using Christian iconography and concepts to point an audience to Jesus Christ is a good thing. There is a danger of actually trying to equate Jesus with Superman. That's a problem. I don't think the film-makers do that and as a rule the comics books and cartoons don't. Superman clearly does not consider himself above humanity or better than humanity and certainly not a god and not divine. He does not consider himself worthy to determine who lives and who dies so he tries to save and help everyone. This isn't bad but a good and moral ethic to live by. It is one of the tent poles for Christian ethics.

Is Man of Steel all about Jesus? Warner Bros hopes Christians think so

I'd be remiss if I didn't point out two of the darker sides of this. Some folks make a serious error (sometimes tongue-in-cheek) in trying to argue that Superman is better than Jesus Christ and that like Superman Jesus is fictional. Really dumb, but there you go. I wrote an article about this while ago. Read it here: 10 Reasons Why there is No Comparision Between Jesus and Superman. And my brother -in-Christ, whom I really respect and if you haven't read his work you should,  posted a video about the occult symbolism in Man of Steel.  If you look our culture is steeped in it and many of our movies have them in them. You should be aware. Check out his video.

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