Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Jesus the Man of Steel

superman-jesus-christ-worth1000I loved the Man of Steel movie! I adored it, in fact, and not only was it great, but some interesting Christian images crept into it as well. I did a post before about Christ figures and explained how if you don’t realize Superman is a Christ figure then you aren’t watching the movies right. Well, the Man of Steel movie, more than any other Superman movie so far, lays the Christ figure parallels on pretty thickly. Let’s take a look at what this movie did differently to make the parallels more obvious.

Man of Steel does a lot of the same things the other Superman movies have done to draw a parallel between Jesus and Superman. The big three are usually Jor-El as God, Superman fighting evil, and finally some sort of dramatic crucifix pose.

Jor-El is almost always portrayed as a God figure in the Superman movies, sending his only son to save the people of Earth. Jor-El actually is much more present in this movie than any of the others. Krypton is given much more screen time and Jor-El, of course, is the one who takes us through that world. He is shown as extremely powerful and a force to be reckoned with. In fact, in this movie we could potentially interpret Jor-El, Jor-El the hologram, and Superman as the Trinity. Jor-El, the Father, sets things in motion by sending Superman to Earth. His hologram, or his spirit (Zod even calls him a ghost like the Holy Ghost) leads Superman and guides his path. Jor-El’s spirit even guides and protects Lois Lane when she struggles to return to Earth after being taken by Zod. And of course, Superman would be the Christ figure in this narrative.

The other two are pretty simple. Superman defends the Earth from some great evil (aka the bad guy), almost always at the cost of Superman’s life. Not that he dies—but he could die, or nearly dies, which usually leads him to the dramatic crucifix pose. You know the one I mean.

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Crucifix pose: Man of Steel edition

There are several other moments in this movie that have not been in previous Superman films. Probably the most obvious one would be the Gethsemane parallels. Christ enters the garden of Gethsemane looking for guidance and hoping that he does not have to go to be crucified. He prays for another path, but ultimately accepts what God wants him to do. Superman has a similar moment in the Man of Steel. Clark goes to (presumably) his Church and reveals to the priest that he is the alien that Zod is after and asks what he should do. Should he give himself over to Zod to save everyone and should he trust humanity to do the right thing? The priest advises him to take a leap of faith and trust humanity. Furthermore, the whole scene is set against a stained glass window depiction of Jesus at Gethsemane so that there was no way you could miss the parallel. Superman also allows himself to be arrested despite being much more powerful than those arresting him, just like Christ does when he is arrested at Gethsemane.

Another interesting parallel is shown in Colonel Nathan Hardy, a character who I believe mimics the Roman solider at Christ’s crucifixion. Hardy spends much of the movie suspicious of Superman, even ordering his troops to attack Superman and Zod. Eventually Hardy realizes that Superman is helping and protecting them and declares, “This man is not our enemy.” This seems to nicely parallel the Roman centurion depicted in Mathew who after witnessing Christ’s death on the cross said, “Truly this man was the son of God!”

Those are just a couple parallels I noticed that weren’t normally present in the older Superman movies. Did you see any I missed? Let me know in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Oh, My Pop Culture Jesus: Jesus the Man of Steel

  1. An excellent article, even by your own already-high standards. I strongly dislike Superman, but I plan on seeing this movie.

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