Man of Steel

I watched Man of Steel a few weeks ago, and enjoyed its different version of various characters’ stories. It had slipped my mind that here had been so much buzz prior to and immediately after its release, about its promotion to churches. The actual religious imagery did not seem more prominent than in other versions of Superman, and so the promotion of the movie to churches ought to be considered clever marketing rather than an indication of a substantive difference.

SPOILERS: Here are some of the more explicit points of intersection with religious themes: Jor-El’s father does actually say that his son will be “a god” to the people of the world where he sends him. And if “El” has resonances of divinity for those who know Hebrew, it is a family name and a subset of the Kryptonian race. Kal-El differs from other members of his race precisely in not having been “intelligently designed.” And there are hints that humanity is an offshoot of the Kryptonian race, since the Kryptonians had scouted out our planet long before.

On a related note, I actually had a student write in an assignment last semester in my Religion and Science Fiction class, “As you can see, Superman and Jesus have several things in common. They are both from planets other than Earth,…”

Have you watched Man of Steel? What did you think of it?

  • beau_quilter

    I thought Henry Cavill’s portrayal was fairly two dimensional and simplistic – maybe it was the writing. I’m usually a big fan of Michael Shannon, but his General Zod seemed to be the only alien who came from the south side of Chicago–er–I mean Krypton.

  • http://tunabay.com/ Keika

    To honor the memory of Christopher Reeve, I have not nor will I ever will watch another SUPERMAN movie without said actor. Besides that, without a full-blown movie score by John Williams, that franchise doesn’t excite me anymore.

  • T. Webb

    Dr. McGrath, I totally agree with you about the religious aspects, or near lack of them. Cavill was a very good choice for the role, but I think he had more to offer than the scrip allowed him. That’s a nice painting you linked, but it doesn’t look like Cavil.

  • http://youtube.com/user/BowmanFarm Brian Bowman

    Modern American movies with all the CGI these days is like modern American fast food with its aspartame, HFCS, and MSG. Cheap. Fake. Tastes bad. You feel worse after the experience. The trailer is usually better than the movie, and with today’s plot reruns, adequate to understanding it without two hours of predictable boredom.

  • Michael Wilson

    The fantasy of Superman presents the same dilemmas as the fantasy of Jesus, which for many, is believed to be his reality. For the Gospel writers, they had to answer the question, “if Jesus had the power of God at his command, why did he just heal a few cripples and let himself die leaving his disciples with a promise to return with his army of angels sometime between now and eternity. Why not just go ahead and use the angels now?” However what might seem like lame excuses to fill plot holes in the gospels are actually profound statement I think, if looked at in a particular light. Jesus of course had no super powers or armies of angels, so asking why he didn’t use his non existent abilities is moot. But the explanations given in the gospels still have significance. In the myth of the temptation, Jesus’s refusal to perform wonders has a basic message applicable to even an atheist; the proper attitude toward reality is trust in its goodness, not the expectation that reality should do your bidding. His meek acceptance of death in the end shows that the greatest victory over evil doesn’t come from destroying its agents but from rejecting the fears that allow evil to rule us. More immediately, had Jesus fought, not only he, but all of his disciples would have hung right there with him. His death, while part of an absurd tragedy (a humble man is executed because everyone expects him to seize the crown he rejects) is also the redemption of the characters, because all of them, like Jesus have the potential to put aside fear and selfishness to transcend themselves and live, and give, their lives for others.

    In the Superman movies, Clark Kent handles things a little differently. In the first, super man has the power to make the world conform to his good will, but his father tells him not to change the destiny of humanity, unlike Jesus, Superman rejects this for love of a woman, and makes history go in reverse to save her.

    In this current film, Superman, like Jesus offers him self as a sacrifice for the world, though here it is a naïve ploy. Jesus was acting for the best of his fiends, the all powerful Superman is a fool because only he can stop the insane Zod, and yet he leaves humanity to Zod’s mercy. The controversial killing of Zod by Superman again like the first film turns Jesus’s sacrifice on its head. Clark doesn’t offer the other cheek, he snaps necks. In both these films, If Clark Kent is Jesus, then he think the devil is offering a just bargain.

    Now I still think though that Superman is making a sacrifice. Not of his life but his innocence. Superman is not willing to join the company of the saints at the cost of the lives of others. He gives up his sinless state to murder Zod, his only blood relation.


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