Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Superman and Jesus

This fathers day my kids took me to see the latest Superman movie and I was struck by the similarities between the Superman narrative and the Christian narrative. Here are the things I noticed:

1)      Heaven – Krypton is a designed and created Utopian paradise where Kryptonians seem to live forever.

2)      The Fall of Lucifer – General Zod was Kryptons top general and disagrees with the ultimate authority and battles for control and is ultimately cast out to another dimension, just like Lucifer and his minions.

3)      A Unique Birth – Jesus was born to a virgin (assuming Mary and Joe didn’t lie) and Superman was the first Kryptonian born through a vagina in Millenia, all others were birthed in a genesis chamber.

4)      Sent to Another World to Be its Savior – Jor’el pontificates that Superman could guide and lead the people of Earth to a better future and prevent them from being destroyed.

5)      Raised by surrogate parents of an inferior class – Superman had otherworldly powers his parents did not possess. Both Supe and JC’s earthly fathers were simple tradesmen.

6)      Guided by his incorporeal father – Superman is guided by Jor’el whose consciousness can converse with him and guide him with his sage wisdom.

7)      Begins Ministry at about Age 30 – Superman finally goes public at about the same age as JC.

8)      Practices Non-violence – Several times Supe is physically assaulted and turns the other cheek.

9)      Performs public miracles – Self-explanatory

10)  Is either loved or reviled – Authorities are afraid of Superman, they don’t know what to make of him.

11)  Sacrifices himself to save the world – Superman struggles with whether he should sacrifice himself to save the world, reminiscent of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He seeks the council of a man of faith and with a stain glassed image of Jesus in the background resolves to sacrifice himself. He is then taken into Zod’s (Satan) lair and held captive just like JC was.

12)  Breaks out of hell and saves the world – Self-explanatory

I don’t know if it was Zack Snyders conscious decision to incorporate these elements of the Christian narrative. When two young Jewish men, Siegel and Shuster, created Superman in 1938 he was seen as a metaphor for the Jewish people. Perhaps this incarnation is a manifestation of the prophesy the Jews always hoped for – an ass kicking savior instead of gentle Jesus meek and mild. Perhaps the great narratives that resonate with the human psyche all have similar attributes for a reason, after-all at least 10 Christ-like figures predated Jesus and Superman (http://listverse.com/2009/04/13/10-christ-like-figures-who-pre-date-jesus/). Whether conscious or unconscious Zach Snyder’s version of this mythology definitely resonated with me and apparently with a lot of other movie goers raking in $128 million in its first weekend.


If you notice any other similarities that I’ve missed please comment!

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