The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano on Friday devoted a full page looking at the Catholic identity of popular comic book superheroes while questioning the religious affiliation of some of the most popular like Superman and Batman.
The story was published as the latest Superman film Man of Steel this week took more than $250 million (£170 million) at the US box office and its phenomenal success has been linked to spiritual themes promoted by Grace Hill Media, a public relations firm focused on the Christian market.
The Vatican newspaper article was accompanied by two scenes from popular comic strips – Batman showing his alter-ego Bruce Wayne as a boy saying his prayers by his bed and the Hulk depicted with rosary beads in his hands.
“Is it enough for a person to have a rosary in his hand to be defined a Catholic?” wrote senior journalist Gaetano Vallini.
But Vallini said there was plenty of evidence to indicate the Hulk was a Catholic.
“Bruce Banner, the incredible green man, in fact married his beloved Betty Ross in a church and a Catholic priest presided at the ceremony.
“There are other indications dispersed among the hundreds of comic strips dedicated to him that are said to unequivocally reveal his faith.”
The writer said there is evidence to suggest the mother of Batman’s alter ego Bruce Wayne was Catholic while the character Nightcrawler from the X-Men films explicitly refers to his Catholic faith.