Jesus is the Real Man of Steel

Of all the ways to market a major movie, this has to be at the bottom of the list:

Warner Bros. and MinistryResources.org have partnered to create a website which contains “Man of Steel” resources for Christian priests, pastors and ministers.

Yep: They’ve pre-written a sermon (PDF) for pastors to use in church, comparing Superman to Jesus. The superhero created by the sons of Jewish immigrants is being used to market Jesus.

Seriously.

Superman’s mythical origins are rooted in the timeless reality of a spiritual superhero who also lived a modest life until extraordinary times required a supernatural response. Jesus was sent by his Father to bear our burdens, to right our wrongs, to rise above our troubling circumstances. How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again? Let’s consider how Superman’s humble origins, his high calling, and his transforming sacrifice point us towards Jesus, the original superhero.

The “S” stands for… um… jeSus? Sacrifice? Slytherin? I give up.

(Thanks to David for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • MineApostasy

    I wish I were surprised, but I’ve completely lost the ability to be as such in regards to tenuous links between popular culture and whatever aspect of deity these preachers want to talk about.

  • Robbie Taylor

    To be fair, the parallel of Jesus/Superman has been around a while – the Kingdom Come graphic novel was the most explicit about it – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_Come_(comics)

    • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

      And the past movies have been rife with Jesus imagery. It’s an easy parallel to make– a father sends his only son to Earth, where he becomes the savior of the world. In many versions of Superman, the parallels are played up quite deliberately.

      • Christine

        Maybe I’m just that much closer to high school English than everyone else. (Or maybe, being from Canada, my teacher wasn’t scared that the fundies would be ticked if he actually discussed this sort of thing), but my first reaction to this post was “but Superman is definitely a Christ figure. It’s obvious to the point that it no longer works.”

        • Greg G.

          Does making allegations of allegory make a person an allegator? Or do you have to be a dues paying member of the Canadian Allegory Initiative, a CAIman, for that?

          • busterggi

            Like the Everglades tour leader said, “You can deny the allegories but you cannot deny the alligators.”

          • karlschneider

            Sue you later, allegator! heh heh

    • kal_el

      No doubt. Just look at Jor-El’s speech from Superman: The Movie (1978):

      “They can be a great people, Kal-El. They wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son.”

      In college, I wrote a paper on all of the Christ imagery in that film. Have you ever noticed what the ship that brought him to earth looks like? Kind of like a star, doesn’t it (i.e. The Star of Bethlehem)?

      How about the fact that when he travels to the Fortress of Solitude, he disappears for 12 years, only to return at the age of 30 to begin his mission. In the Gospels, Jesus essentially does the same thing. You hear about him as a child. But, there is a huge gap where nothing about his life is mentioned. The next time he appears in the story, he is 30 and ready to begin his mission.

      The film is full of subtle and not so subtle references like this.

      • baal

        I tend to wonder if that was the eugenics flavored ubermensch re-imagined by a christian studio for a christian audience or if he was always that way.

      • Regina Carol Moore

        I’ve always been proud of the college paper I wrote discussing the use of Pop Art in the Batman tv series starring Adam West. I thought it was quirky and delicious and wonderful. You’ve beaten me. You are the quirky, delicious and wonderful winner.

      • Spuddie

        Isn’t that huge gap in his life essentially covered as Superboy? [or Smallville?]

        • kal_el

          Not in the film. In the film, he stays in the Fortress for those 12 years learning from Jor-El.

          • Spuddie

            Fair enough.

            But its not like those years were ignored in other media. Superboy comics were around since the late 40′s.

            [Yes I am letting my geek flag fly here =) ]

  • Aegis

    Warner Brothers recently acquired the rights to Robotech and are looking for a director.

    If they try this shit with it, I am gonna be PISSED…but also slightly curious to see how they’d tie religion into transforming fighter jets and fifty-foot aliens.

    • meekinheritance

      Ask a Scientologist.

    • SeekerLancer

      If it’s anything like Transformers I hope it never comes out. Also I am disappointed if Harmony Gold profits off of this. I’m sick of them raking in money for their bastardized Macross (because let’s be honest nobody really cares about Southern Cross or Mospeda).

    • baal

      I’d love to see a modern movie version of Robotech but am more than a little a feared that a US movie co wouldn’t get the flavor right.

    • Question Everything

      Great, now you’ve got me plotting it out. Rick / Hikaru and Lisa / Misa are more or less poised to be the new Adam and Eve at the end of the first major story arc. SDF-1 is the new Garden of Eden..

      Zentradi are like sin-obsessed egotistical humans, full of themselves (huge) and without religion, so they think they’re so superior.. only to be brought down by the small humans (David vs Goliath) who kept the faith..

      Parallels all over the place… ugh. I feel dirty.

      • Aegis

        Don’t forget when the Zentraedi fleet reduced Earth’s population from six billion to seventy thousand in the space of what, two hours, tops? Rapture analogy waiting to happen.

      • Aegis

        Also, oh, crap – can you imagine Minmay singing gospel music to scare them away? Eurgh.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        The Zentraedi have a religious ideology though, in the form of the almost monastic military rules handed down from on high to keep them in line, chaste, and ignorant.

        • Question Everything

          True! I also need to post the counterpoint – they’re a good parallel for the Quiverfull movement. Their entire race is about reducing other populations so everyone is like their masters, and they only procreate to create more soldiers (or arrows, for Quiverfull). They are only educated enough to do what their masters desire. Those who experience other things (love, singing, etc) often leave the movement, and frequently fight against it when possible afterwards.

          Whew, I feel better now.

    • Aegis

      (It’s also worth pointing out that recently, Palladium Books held a kickstarter for a tabletop game based on Robotech. I contributed, will receive the game, and plan to use it for Macross purposes.)

      • Spuddie

        I am curious to know how they worked out the legal rights issues with Harmony Gold and StudioNue.

        • Aegis

          Me too. The thing funded successfully, though, about a month ago now. It seems to be fully on track, however they did it.

          • Spuddie

            Should be interesting.

            I always thought the series lost steam 2/3rds in, when the Earth gets ravaged. Anime series have a habit of starting off like gangbusters and fizzling out in the end.

            I just recently watched a subbed/dubbed version of Macross. The plot differences are mostly around the edges. Lyrics for Minmay’s songs are a lot sillier (and cheerfully fascist) in subtitle form.

  • Lee Miller

    The “S” stands for bullShit.

  • Andrés Valgarðsson

    To be fair, I don’t think this is a major point for them, more like, a way to reach another niche market.

    The Superman franchise has had this Messiah connotation for a while. But I don’t think it’s any more specifically Jesus than any other savior.

    I even heard originally, he was more like a Moses allegory

    • Spuddie

      The standard story is it was an allegory for Jewish immigrants in America.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Hey, don’t insult Slytherin like that. We may have housed Voldemort and most of the Death Eaters, but they’re nothing compared to the god of the bible.

    Its really sad how these people will so blatantly steal any quasi-popular thing and piss their theology all over it. No respect.

  • Rain

    Well they’re both patriotic white American dudes, although Jesus is even whiter than Superman. So I don’t think it would work very well.

  • FelyxLeiter

    Does anyone else find it odd that the mere, futile nominees are “Oscar” nominees, but the winners are “Academy Award” winners?

  • Garret Shane Brown

    “The stuff you use-to fill the pews!”

    I think christian pastors are getting a little desparate…

  • http://www.processdiary.com Paul Caggegi

    Why I was more a Batman fan myself.

    • Spuddie

      Batman and Jesus adventures does not have the same ring.

      Plus what would Jesus say about Batman’s constant companionship with young boys?

      • karlschneider

        He’d say “Now there’s a man after my own heart!”

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Let’s see. Both are supposed to be all powerful. Both are kind of dicks to everyone they know. Both have colorfully costumed foes. Both have a long history of misogyny. Both have story arcs about having to sacrifices themselves to save man kind. Both have have powers that could be used to better humanity by a great deal, and neither chooses to use them. Both would be owned by Dr. Manhattan if they ever had to fight each other. And both are fictional characters. So yes this is a perfect analogy.

    • JET

      If only Jor-El had cosmically raped Mrs. Kent…

  • Greg G.

    Why not have sermons about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure where their catchphrase “Be excellent to each other” is the basis for a society in the distant future and in the sequel, they conquer death and return to life? Oh wait. Weren’t those movies like a modern day Life of Brian ?

  • kimpatsu

    There’s another similarity: Both Superman and Jesus are fictional characters.

  • ortcutt

    Wasn’t Gilgamesh the first superhero? He’s two-thirds god, one-third man. He has a sidekick, Enkidu. He defeats the monster Humbaba. He has a critical weakness, death.

    Gilgamesh even appeared as a Marvel Comics character, written by Jack Kirby.

    http://marvel.com/universe/Forgotten_One

  • Michael

    Clearly, the S stands for Spaghetti.

  • Greg G.

    Maybe the S is for Samson. Barbers were his Kryptonite.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    Most of the comic book heroes were created by Jewish immigrants. It’s easy enough to read Kal-El (Superman) as a Jewish refugee who changes his name to the waspy-sounding Clark Kent. It’s easy to take that idea too far, but it’s certainly a strong influence on the mythos of all those characters and the kinds of stories told in the comic books of the 30s and 40s. (Superman was fighting the Nazis well before Pearl Harbor brought us into the war.)

  • SeaDeaTea

    “Let’s consider how Superman’s humble origins,”
    Since when is being jettisoned across the cosmos as your home world is destroyed, only to land on a planet where you have naturally endowed power unrivaled by any of the native inhabitants humble?
    Just because he happened to spend his childhood in Smallville, doesn’t make that his origin. It is mid-story character development.

    • Cafeeine

      See, it plays to the same myth in the Christ story: Jesus was the son of a simple carpenter… who also happened to be the all-powerful creator of the universe.

  • C Peterson

    Nice to see that they are openly acknowledging the purely mythical nature of their deity.

  • JET

    Glad to see they’re finally placing Jesus stories right where they belong – in the fantasy genre. When you look back at all mythologies, isn’t that the basic premise of all of them? Super heroes vs. super villains, good vs. evil, magical powers, saving mankind, etc. Maybe emphasizing the parallels between Jesus and Superman will cause a few people to actually examine those parallels. Okay… wishful thinking…

  • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

    They forget the big differences between Jesus and Superman. Superman will save you whether you believe in him or not and Superman wants nothing from you in return, least of all your worship. Superman is clearly morally superior to Jesus.

  • David Powell

    Who else instantly had the lyrics “Magic Woody Allen Zombie Superman Jesus” pop into their head?

    Tim Minchin’s Woody Allen Jesus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SFdUJLebzU

    • allein

      I do now! Thanks :)

  • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

    They tried the same thing with the last Superman movie (Superman Returns). It bombed,

  • The Other Weirdo

    Superman: fights for humanity.
    Jesus: breathlessly awaits the destruction of the world and the slaughter of humanity in a useless cosmic battle which has already been prescripted.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I would rather worship the Spectre or the Doctor. The Spectre is cool and the Doctor is a more humane god. He is actually willing to die for the entire universe and has human emotions and ideas.

  • Sweetredtele

    I thought the parallel was between Moses and Superman. Placed in a basket to save the child’s life, adopted by the finder, able to do incredible things. Add the religion of the comic creator.

  • ShoeUnited

    Jimmy Olsen is my co-pilot.

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    It’s worth noting that Superman in comics canon has indicated that he doesn’t believe in a God.

    That comes with the qualifier that he does know for a fact that there are unfathomable cosmic beings. He’s punched a couple of them.

  • 100meters

    The difference is while Superman and Lois Lane had a relationship that was entirely frictional, our lord and saver Jesus H Christ is about to come again. Comic BOOK and Cosmic/Holy BOOK…coincidence? Shroud of Touring and a Red Cape? The mind bottles…and if Superman really was Jesus H Christ, then why couldn’t Christopher Reeve get up and walk? Bazinga, atheists!

  • Vision_From_Afar

    Pretty sure Gilgamesh beats Jesus.

  • Robster

    Good! It’s about time they got baby jesus out of the white sheet and put him in a cape wearing his undies on the outside. Don’t remember anything in the old book of myth about a flying jesus, I remember the Flying nun but not the Flying deity. Also, nailing Superman to a stick would have no effect at all, you’d need that deadly stuff from the Super dude’s home planet, not a stick. Really it’s a silly idea but the idea is to sell movie tickets really and to make the jesus nonsense appear contemporary.


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