Media fingers wrong ‘Man of Steel’ character in Jesus analogy

Unless you’ve been living on Krypton lately, you’re probably aware that the latest Superman film, “Man of Steel,” has hit theaters. And over the last few days, it seems like every entertainment reporter has jumped on the “Superman is an allegory for Jesus” band wagon while seemingly convinced they’ve uncovered some brand new interpretation to the world’s first superhero (Also see: here and here among others).

Their argument goes something like this. Superman sacrifices himself for humanity at the age of 33. Jesus sacrifices himself for humanity at the age of 33. Superman has god-like powers. Jesus has god-like powers. And there certainly are several other not so subtle visual cues sprinkled throughout the film. So I guess it’s case closed, right? If only these reporters had more hands on which to pat themselves on the back in a way that could properly express the level of their self-satisfaction!

Unfortunately, like a poor marksman, they missed their target. They fingered the wrong Jesus! (Writer’s note: that last sentence was not intended to sound as dirty as it did.). Let’s take a closer look at both these fictional characters and see if they really do have as much in common as I keep hearing.

1. Mission – Superman’s mission in “Man of Steel” (here on out referred to as MOS) is to protect the Earth and the human race from total destruction. According to the Bible, Jesus’ mission is to end the world.

According to Genesis 6, god already tried to exterminate humanity once before with a flood. The Bible clearly explains that The Second Coming of Christ will bring about a final solution commonly referred to as the “End of Days” or “Final Judgment,” where both the still living…and obviously the resurrected dead, will face God’s judgment. Even self-proclaimed Christians will be judged (Matthew 7:21-232 Corinthians 5:10). Those righteous will be granted eternal life while the wicked will…also be granted eternal life, only they’ll be tortured during all that eternity (Matthew 5:29-3025:31-46Mark 9:43-48). So really, since everyone’s getting an eternal life regardless of their behavior, the righteous get nothing…except freedom from senseless torture. Cause god so loved the world…yada, yada, yada. According to the apostle Paul:

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. (NIV, 2 Corinthians 5:6-10)

So part of Jesus’ mission is to make everyone submit to him…you know, kneel before God. But mostly it’s to end the world. Not exactly the same thing Superman’s after.

2. Response to adversity – Though Superman is willing to kill if absolutely necessary to protect humanity, he really kinda doesn’t wanna. In fact, it’s a pretty big deal with him. Not only does Superman avoid killing whenever possible, there are numerous examples in MOS where Superman restrains himself from so much as throwing a single punch even when individuals flagrantly harass him and those around him. Even when harassers taunt him to fight back while pushing him seemingly almost to his breaking point. Superman doesn’t even throw a punch. And it of course would be so easy for him to do so. He wouldn’t even have to ball his fist. A simple flick of his finger could sever a man’s head from his body. And yet, even at his angriest, Superman chooses not to fight back.

Jesus, not so much. According to the Bible, eating shrimp warrants the death penalty (Leviticus 11:10). Lot’s wife is transformed into salt for committing the crime of turning her head (Genesis 19:6). God floods the Earth simply because humans and angels started sleeping together (Genesis 6:1-6). God says disobedient children should be stoned to death (Deut. 21:18-21). God thinks all ten of The Ten Commandments are punishable by death. Hell, god sends down bears to murder 42 kids whose only crime was making fun of a bald man (2 Kings 2:23-24). One would have a hard time thinking up an offense god wouldn’t think warranted death. And then of course the fun doesn’t end with death. God also thinks that all sinners should then be tortured for eternity. Eat shrimp; eternal torture. Own any possessions at all; eternal torture. Hardly very Superman-like, if you ask me.

3. Sacrifice – In MOS, Superman willingly surrenders to his adversary, Zod, knowing full well it could likely lead to his own death. Superman so loved the world that he was willing to sacrifice his one and only life to protect them. If Superman believed in any kind of afterlife, there’s no indication in the film.  This is it for him. Superman literally puts everything on the line. So that we can live and the Earth will be safe. Jesus on the other hand, does not dramatically come out of hiding to turn himself in to his adversaries. He is arrested, tried, convicted, and executed against his will (well, except for his whole being part of the very god that made it all happen in the first place). Then Jesus sacrifices his mortality in order to return to being master of the universe. Talk about your first world problems. Am I right? Hold your horses, Mel Gibson. I know. I know. it was a really painful weekend. Tell that to all the Filipinos who actually willingly go out of their way to be crucified every Easter without the reward of becoming the most powerful god in all the Biblical pantheon at the end. Some sacrifice! Hey Jesus, next time let me take your place. I’ll happily trade my mortality to become a living god for the price of one shitty weekend.

4. Writers’ lack of subtlety – Not much rhymes with Superman. Buperman. Duperman. Blooperman. But you know what rhymes with God? I’ll give you a hint. Like Jesus, he too wants to end the world. Like Jesus, he too believes in killing his adversaries. Like Jesus, he too was tried, convicted, and sentenced to what was expected to be a certain death for the actions he took trying to save his people.

zod

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11 Responses to Media fingers wrong ‘Man of Steel’ character in Jesus analogy

  1. BeyondRedemption.... says:

    So, you’re saying that, in reality Jesus was not the Glorious ‘Ghod’ Christians say he is…. but rather, the Evil Zhod???? I like it! By the way, I went with some friends to the 11:00 a.m. Friday showing… and at no time did I associate either of the main characters with any Geebus……. I’ve been a Superman fan for more than 60 years…. and never once did I ever see any tie-in between Superman & Jesus, or Zhod & Jesus. Their only connection is…. that they’re both imaginary, & according to legend, both can do some ‘special’ things….. Never seen actual proof of any of it….. On the other hand, Jesus couldn’t save himself, Superman did!

    • Flameslinger says:

      yes Jesus didn’t save himself but that is not because he couldn’t it is because he didn’t want to he came down all these years ago to save us and he would go to any extent to do it even dying on the cross so he would die but we would be granted eternal life heaven with god he died for you!!!!! and as i said it want because he had no choice it was because he loved you and wanted you to live because he loved you. he could have easily done anything to save himself but he chose you of life!!!!.

      • mjr256 says:

        But according to the Bible, Jesus DIDN’T die on the cross; he once again became the immortal master of the universe. That’s not a sacrifice. If mere willingness to make that arrangement makes Jesus so benevolent, then I guess so am I because I’d happily accept Jesus’ same bad weekend for the same reward he got.

        But all this is besides the point. Jesus isn’t good enough to be compared to Superman. While I’m sure many writers have invented excuses to explain why Superman didn’t defeat the real-world Nazi threat and stop the Holocaust, I think we all recognize Superman as a character who would choose to do so if he could, whereas we’re told Jesus actually exists and actually did have the power to defeat the Nazis and end the Holocaust…and yet he didn’t. There are so many other examples I could point to, but that alone is damning. Either Jesus doesn’t exist, he was completely unaware of the suffering, or he simply chose to not stop the suffering. Those are the only options, and the one most favorable to Jesus is his non-existence.

      • Octavian says:

        I wished the Bible to point it out Jesus saying, “the digit in the position one million nine of PI is 8, and the position one million one is 3, and the digit in the position one million is 1″… don’t worry I do not have the unlimited powers…I just used an equation!

  2. Octavian says:

    MJR256 it is always a pleasure to read your blogs, thank you. I never had a chance to read the Bible from the beginning to the end, though I think that I read the whole Bible in my life just reading different chapters. The Bible is a fairytale, there is no doubt about that and your examples prove that (According to the Bible, eating shrimp warrants the death penalty (Leviticus 11:10) etc, etc ) I always wondered why Judas needed to kiss Jesus to show the solders who Jesus was… you know, when all the Jews had curled, black hair and Jesus had long straight golden hair… were the Romans so stupid or what?

    • mjr256 says:

      Don’t worry. Almost no one reads the Bible from the beginning to end. If they did, there’d be a lot more atheists. That’s why I always encourage my religious critics to read the whole thing.

  3. Jesus is our Superman says:

    Sooooo, just to enlighten the group:

    The Jesus & Superman comparisons are intentional and to a point. Of course every bit of the story won’t line up because then it would just be the story of Christ rewritten.

    Movie comparisons:

    Like Christ, Superman was His father’s only son.. sent to Earth by His father, out of Love, to save mankind. Reiterating THEE most classic verse in the Bible, which also starts Christ purpose as saving the world, not ending it -_-
    ”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believe in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For the Son of God was not sent into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.” -John 3:16-17

    His parents name’s started with J&M, like Christ’s.

    Louis Lane represented the church, seeking And gaining an intimate relationship with Superman. ”You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11

    *Zhod clearly represents Satan in the movie. Trying to destroy mankind and tempting Christ to join Him in Superman’s dream. Much like His 40 day trial in the wilderness that ended with him denying satan. Zhod is also banished into a backhoe for an eternity(an analogy for hell), then manages to reach earth. There is a scene before he murders Superman’s dad where he yells herisee(spell check) which sounds an awful lot like the pharisee from the Bible, of whom his actions resembled through the entire movie when trying to kill Superman.

    Of course Jesus defeated death/satan, so Superman kills Zod… But satan comes in many many different forms, to steal kill and destroy. Not sure if you all noticed the LEX ENTERPRISES truck thrown at Superman by zod. Possibly some foreshadowing for the next movie?

    There’s soooooo many more undeniable references.. Like the scene where he saves the guys on the burning boat– a parallel to the story of shadrack, meshack, and abindago. Or the talk with his father about how the S on his chest isn’t an S,, but a symbol of hope. How he would be an outcast. A God.

    No doubt in my mind, it’s an attempt to share the gospel. Which explains our conversation. All those old testament comparisons in this article are extremely inaccurate.

    Whether you believe it or not, Christ came to save us.. End of story.

    There were people in the movie who doubted him as the savior, just like in reality with Christ. It’s a tough thing to put all your faith in something you’ve never seen, but if you had the proof you wanted for it to make perfect sense, they wouldn’t call it faith, they’d call it science. And we all know science is just man’s attempt to explain and understand how God works. Impossible.

    • mjr256 says:

      “Whether you believe it or not, Christ came to save us.. End of story.”
      Clearly, it’s not the end of the story as The Bible says Jesus will return to destroy the world. And save us from who? The genocidal psychopath who already once tried before to murder all life on Earth in a giant flood? Even if you believe in this nonsense, you must concede either that god is one the Bible says created the circumstances we would need saving from in the first place, or concede that you simply have never actually read the book.

  4. thepegasean says:

    If you had read the Bible from beginning to end, you might not be so quick to crap all over it. Such attentiveness was not above the likes of Michelangelo, Shakespeare, Newton, and Lincoln, great men who admired the Bible as a great book. Did you consider the idea that the God of the Old Testament is not the God of the New? Just something to consider. There are various parables in the latter book that satirise the former. For example, Moses turns water into blood, a symbol of sorrow; Jesus turns water into wine, a symbol of joy. Moses in the wilderness bows down and worships Jehovah whem he promises him kingdoms of the world; Jesus refuses Satans promise to give him kingdoms of the world if he bows down and worships him. Why does Christ proclaim to cast out, ‘the Prince of this World?’ Is the Lord of the Old Testament not the Prince of this World? Have you perhaps considered the words of Jesus to the Pharisees, ‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’ Effectively Christ is telling his people their God lied when he declared he was God. He adopted the law to decieve them into breaking it. Jehovah kills a man for collecting sticks on the Sabbath day. Jesus is Crucified for healing a man on the Sabbath day. Jehovah tells Moses he is, ‘I am that I am;’ a principle that is precisely opposite to the teaching of Christ, which is fundamentally concerned with self-sacrifice and living for others. That is what the miracles, such as healing the sick and the feeding of the five thousand, obviously symbolise i.e sharing with the hungry and caring for the ill, along with the washing of the feet, being something no ancient who had claimed divinity (and of course there were many ancients who claimed divinity) seem to have ever done before for their believers, and it is certainly not something Jehovah would have done for Moses. ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ What God is Christ speaking of in that statement? It is certainly not his Father, who he asserts again and again will never forsake him. It is the Lord of the Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the jealous Lord who demands blood and pillage, the God he inherited as the ancestor of David, but not his Father, not the Loving God he believed in. It is a satirical cry. Christ, in calling himself the Son of a Loving Father God, blessing the meek and suggesting we turn the other cheek, was criticising the selfish, malicious, nationalistic warmongering Gods and demi-Gods of the ancient world.That is what makes him such a crucial figure in the ancient world. That is one subtlety and significance of the Bible that will be lost on those who do not bother to read it properly. Why just criticise the fundamentalist interpretation, when fundamentalists themselves do not bother to read it properly? Try going and reading it with an open mind, do not just accept a certain dogmatic interpretation as the only possible one. Perhaps the Gospels were composed as a satire of the Old Testament, perhaps Jesus satirised the God of his people and proclaimed another, perhaps that is precisely why he was crucified? I will not defend the concept of Hell, but I can sympathise with it. Bear with me on this. Christ was a prophet in the Hebrew tradition, essentially a socially conscience poet who tried to redeem an unjust world by imagining a future state of perfect justice. They suggested the cruel, for example, do not, despite wordly appearences, get away with cruelty after all (for the ancient world was rife with cruel men getting away with it, even glorifying it. As is the modern world, for that matter) as puerile as that idea may seem to us, it is at least understandable. You do not believe that Christ was a superman, then criticise him for his belief as if he really was. How can you make a mockery of his belief in the afterlife and then his bravery in the face of death as if he actually got there? Taking away the supernatural elements of the story, Christ was merely an outspoken idealist who stood up for what he believed was right and was brutally executed for it. Yet he was not executed against his will, not according to the Gospels. He tells the disciples he is going to die for them over and over, the bread and wine, the body and blood, symbolise the fact he is giving up his life particularly for them. If there is any truth in the last supper, clearly he was telling his friends he intended to perish to save them from the immediate peril of the Pharisees and Romans, he rightfully took the whole blame for the movement in his name in order to exonerate the members of that movement. That is why he tells Peter to deny him thrice; it is not a prediction, it is a command. On that basis, the passion is a noble and courageous deed, and Jesus is one of the most, if not the most, sublimely tragic figures in ancient literature, whether you believe in his divinity or not. By the way, I am not a conventional believer, I do not believe in the Bibles literal truth or infallibillity, I just believe it is a extraordinary collection of ancient literature, the Gospels being among the most interesting in the context of the rest, and I also believe in studying literature before attempting to tear it apart. As a humanist you have to believe there is worth in anything that has inspired such strong belief. Why not approach the Bible with some degree of reverence, even as a disbeliever? It is far too fascinating and influential to dismiss by adopting the sort of lazily cynical posture expressed in your article.

    • Octavian says:

      Both Moses and Jesus had OBE’s like Shirley MacLaine in her Out on a Limb book and biographical movie, and they believed that they perceived the real thing, the paranormal, unfortunately the OBEs take place only inside the brain and they are a dream like state experience just that the mind is wide open, and you could be fooled and overwhelmed of the experience that looks real… I had OBEs and I know what I’m talking about. I do not question that Moses witnessed the sightseeing of the Burning Bush, or Mohammed flew to Heaven on a winged white horse, or the fact that Jesus talked to Satan in the desert, or that he walked on water, or that he changed the water in wine, or that he brought to life a dead man… or that Shirley MacLaine flew with her soul to the Moon and enjoyed the sightseeing of a huge spiral galaxy (Shirley MacLaine in Out on a Limb… and actually I wrote her that the galaxies are too far away and the sky from the Moon or Pluto looks the same like from Earth and none of us can see galaxies from Earth with the naked eye… and she did not believe me and wrote me back not to question her paranormal ?!?!?!)… or Plato’s father talking many times to the God Apollo… I know that MJR256 experienced the OBEs because he wrote me, and he knows the truth. It would be nice to sit on the couch or meditate in the desert, and get closer to the paranormal …unfortunately there is no such a thing, we do need to study harder and maybe someday we will levitate at will, but not because Maharishi Mahesh’s teachings, it will be because our scientists hard work!

      The Bible is nothing more than The Legends of the Olympus dressed in different cloths. The scientists are the only one who will tell us the origins of the Universe, and eventually save us from a meteorite cataclysm, so let’s open the “Holly” books of Math and Physics ! Why Jesus did not talk about galaxies and why he thought that Venus was a star?… because at that time the scientists did not have knowledge of it.

  5. mjr256 says:

    I have read the Bible from beginning to end; hence I’m an atheist. I’m not as sure as you that the man who wrote that life was a tale told by idiots signifying nothing was an admirer of the Bible, nor the man who said, “The Bible is not my book and Christianity is not my religion. I could never give assent to the long complicated statements of Christian Dogma.”

    And if the god of the NT is not the same god as the OT, then that completely invalidates the entire NT, which is necessarily predicated on them being the same god. In fact, if they’re not the same god, then worshiping Jesus is a blatant violation of the First Commandment. And various passages in the NT quote the NT god as confirming he was indeed the god of Abraham, etc. You should read the whole thing some time.

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