A super savior? New ‘Superman’ film prompts strong religious emotions

.- Yesterday, the long awaited ‘Superman Returns’ movie hit theaters amid a strong buzz of religious interest. While many are praising the film for it’s heavy Judeo-Christian imagery, others are concerned about a potentially Da Vinci Code-esque  picture of savior.

An article in Newsweek, published earlier this month, recalled that, “In the original 1978 movie as well as in the new one, the superhero’s father says to him about mankind: ‘They can be a great people . . . They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all - their capacity for good - I’ve sent them you, my only son.’”

"Yes," the author concludes, “Superman is a Christ figure.”

Likewise, Steven Graydanus, a reviewer for the National Catholic Register praises the film for its positive portrayal of the superhero. He writes that in the years since the Superman I and II movies of 1979 and 1981, the film world has seen a “succession of darker, grimmer cinematic super heroes: Batman, Wolverine, Daredevil. This long absence is reflected in the title as well as the plot of ‘Superman Returns‘, directed by Brian Singer, whose two ‘X-Men’ movies helped resurrect the superhero genre after Joel Schumacher’s ‘Batman’ sequels killed it.”

However some, like Daniel Pulliam, writer for the web log GetReligion.org, says that with ‘Superman’s’ release, America may not have seen the end of controversial religious movies for the year.

“While there seems to be plenty of surface material for Christians to appreciate about this film,” he writes, “beneath the surface there is the potential for the movie to attract a Da Vinci-ish controversy. But since this is a comic book-based movie, no one will really care. Or will they?”

He points to a recent Time magazine review which compares ‘Superman Returns’ to the recent Dan Brown novel-made-movie. In it, author Richard Corliss writes, ”The movie cogently ransacks elements from all kinds of myths, classic and modern. Superman is the god who fell to earth, enduring a cycle of death and transfiguration. And since he has sired a boy who is part human, he could be the Jesus of the Gnostic Gospels. And Lois? Mary Magdalene!”

Many Gnostic gospels taught that Jesus was either not truly divine or not truly human--both concepts declared heretical by the Catholic Church. The Da Vinci Code also suggested that Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene who bore him children.

In a similar vein, the Dallas Morning News recently quoted Reg Grant, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary who said that ’Superman Returns’ holds a “vital difference from the message of Christianity: The caped, comic book ‘savior’ is not sent to save people from their own evil. ‘He comes to help us find our potential.’”

“In fact,” the article said, “the new movie, despite its Christ imagery, could hardly be less theological. There’s nothing of prayer or heaven. Superman offers salvation only from the perils of this world.”


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