Those of you who know me know that I love movies. Always have. It drives my wife crazy that I can actually have full conversations with other people and only speak by using movie quotes.
This weekend, my daughter and I saw Man of Steel. I am a big fan of Superman – loved the first 2 films with Christopher Reeve as well as Superman Returns with Brandon Routh. When I was a kid I used to run around with a red towel sticking out of my shirt and pretend I was Superman. Needless to say, I was looking forward to Man of Steel ever since I saw a teaser for it a year or so ago.
I am no movie reviewer and cannot discuss a film based on its technical qualities; I simply know what I like and what I don’t like. I really enjoyed this movie but there was one thing that stood out to me more in this film than any of the previous Superman films; the overt comparisons to Jesus.
The original films showed some parallels to a Messianic figure; a baby coming to earth who is raised by foster parents and present to save others. That said, those original films could have been an allegory to the story of Moses as well as it could have been an allegory to Jesus. This certainly would have made sense given that Superman’s creators were both Jewish.
However, Man of Steele is more overtly paralleling the Christ story. Consider the following:
- Superman’s real father explains that the S on the Superman costume is a symbol representing hope. Christians find hope through belief in Christ. In sending their son to Earth, Superman’s birth parents believe that because of his presence, the people of earth can have hope. As such, hope in a savior is something that ties both Superman and Jesus together.
- Superman’s age is mentioned as 33. It is believed that Jesus started his public ministry at 30 and was crucified 3 years later at 33.
- There is a scene where Superman speaks with a Catholic priest in a Church. In the background, just over Superman’s shoulder, is a stained glass window depicting Jesus kneeling in the Garden of Gethsemane. The Gospels tell us that Jesus was praying to ask that what was about to happen could “pass over” him. These Gospels show us His human side; depicting trepidation about turning himself over to the authorities. That said, He willingly goes into the arms of his captors. During this scene in the movie, Superman is debating whether or not he should surrender to the authorities. He certainly could have chosen not to but the fate of the world was in the balance. As such, he willingly allowed himself to be handed over to the authorities and into the hands of General Zod.
- After being handed over to General Zod there is a period of time where Superman loses his powers only to recover them a little while later. This parallels Jesus’ death on Calvary and resurrection 3 days later.
It is hard to argue that there are no similarities between Superman and Jesus in Man of Steele. That said, there is one key difference; Jesus did not kill his enemies and Superman eventually kills Zod. For this reason, Superman may not be the full embodiment of Christ that the earlier part of the film makes him out to be. Then again, if Superman turned the other cheek, we would not have much of a summer blockbuster would we?