I recently saw the new Superman film, “Man of Steel” and the religious media is ablaze with talk about how the film was “filled” with Christian references. To be honest, I really didn’t see any Christian references in the film… at least not any more than one can pull out of any film if you were intent on finding them.
I read through several articles on this to see what the hell they were all talking about. Here is some of what I found. First, Superman’s name is Kal-El and “El” is an old Hebrew name for God… except that it isn’t. In actuality, “El” is the name of the head of the Canaanite pantheon of gods. It predates Judaism and some people think that Yahweh was one of the many sons of El. In any case, this was not something new with this movie. Superman’s name has always been Kal-El. So this movie isn’t any more “Christian” than any other Superman incarnation on this front.
Then there is the claim that Clark is 33-years-old in the film. This is obviously a reference to Jesus being 33 when he was crucified, right? Maybe, but that is a bit of a stretch especially if that is all you have. Does this mean that we can’t have any characters in films that are 33-years-old without that character being secret nod to Jesus? I didn’t even know that Clark was 33-years-old. If they mentioned it in the film, they certainly didn’t make a big deal of it. I missed that part completely.
Superman sacrificed himself for humanity. Yes he did; so what? Self-sacrifice isn’t a Christian thing; it is a human thing. Almost every action movie I have ever seen has a hero or other main character sacrificing themselves for others. Any war movie worth its ammunition has this and pretty much every superhero movie has it too. Do you know why? Because that’s what heroes and superheroes do!
Do you know who didn’t do that? Jesus. First, according to the story, Jesus didn’t turn himself over to the Roman soldiers. He allowed himself to be arrested. That’s not quite the same thing. Second, according to the story, Jesus was a sacrifice, but he didn’t sacrifice. Here the term “sacrifice” is used in two different ways. The first is when we sacrifice a virgin girl to the volcano to appease the gods and prevent the volcano from erupting. The second is when someone jumps on a grenade sacrificing his or her own life so that everyone else can live. Jesus didn’t do that. According to the story, he was merely an offering to his daddy/self.
Plus, how much of a sacrifice could it have been? He was tortured for a little while but aside from that, he knew he was immortal and that at the end of the ordeal he would sit at the right hand of God in Heaven to rule for all eternity. Superman didn’t seem to have any knowledge of an afterlife in “Man of Steel.” He seemed to think that Zod would kill him and that would be it. Superman put the only life he knew to exist on the line.
In any case, there was also a scene where Clark goes to church and asks a priest for help. I’ve never seen that in any movie ever before, lol. What does the priest tell him? Did the priest reassure Clark that God had his back? Or that God has a plan? Or quote some great Bible passage? No, he just gave some common sense advice like follow your instincts or something. The religious advisor ended up giving very secular advice.
Finally, when Superman jumps out of Zod’s ship, he falls with his arms stretched out like Jesus on the cross. Really? I remember they made the same claim when Superman Returns came out. Here is my review of that film which was surprisingly much better than this one.
Speaking of Zod, maybe the media is putting the God analogy on the wrong character. Zod was created for a singular purpose and does not have the ability to create his own purpose in life. Zod’s plan is creation of a new Krypton. I think it takes the World Engine six days to terraform the planet. Like Jesus, Zod was arrested, convicted, and sentenced for trying to be the savior of his people. And let us not forget what the Bible says:
“For it is written, [As] I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall kneel to me, and every tongue shall confess to Zod.” – Romans 14:11
Special thanks to my brother for contributing some ideas to this blog post. Check out his article on this: Media fingers wrong ‘Man of Steel’ character in Jesus analogy
- Media fingers wrong ‘Man of Steel’ character in Jesus analogy (skepacabra.wordpress.com)
- The Fear of Fiction (skepticink.com)
- Catholic Priest: Disbelief in the Devil main cause of atheism (examiner.com)
- Review: ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About God’ by Rob Bell (examiner.com)
- ‘What Is Wrong With The World?’ (skepticink.com)
- Does the World Need a Superman? (skepticink.com)