Super Christ?

June 17, 2013

The new Superman movie soared at the box office over the weekend. I have not seen it since I generally only watch movies as a cheap/free Redbox rental or a free TV viewing. Yet, CNN posted a couple of articles about how the movie portrays Superman as a Christ figure. One article features comments by director Zack Snyder on why he decided to make the Christ-like parallels in the movie. Another article notes how the studio is marketing the film to churches, hoping pastors will use the Christ-like parallels in sermons (and, of course, therefore provide more buzz for the film that will increase ticket sales). The use of a Christ-like figure is nothing new in literature or movies, as in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, Steven Spielberg's E.T., and many more. Such fictitious ways of considering Jesus can bring a fresh perspective, perhaps even helping some people appreciate the old story in a new way. The divine cannot be completely captured within any one humanly-created image, but each of these may help highlight some aspect of Jesus. The danger, however, is that they may also add some nuance to the Christ figure that we should not bring to our reading of Jesus. My friend - and movie aficionado - J.R. Forasteros already watched the new Superman movie and tackled the problematic way Superman is featured as he turns to evil ways to defeat evil (which is quite different from how he outsmarted the same villain in the classic Christopher Reeve version of the story that I enjoyed watching repeatedly as a child). A violent Christ figure who defeats evil with evil may not give us quite the right focus. Additionally, I fear that it might not be helpful to focus so much on Jesus being like some superhero from another planet. After all, Jesus did not just come down to Earth, but he became a real person. Let us not make him so superly divine that we make him alien.