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God's Free Gift

Current Events >> It's a bird, its a plane, it's a story about the Gospel

If you only see one movie this year, I think Superman Returns is the one to see. It is full of Gospel symbolism.


As Christians it is easy for us to ignore films, their meanings, and their overall content as we focus on the moral wrongs of a given picture. After all, we are to be holy and we all acknowledge the world is immoral, especially Hollywood. But, what if a film came along with enough large picture metaphors that would allow us to discuss the entire Gospel message? What if this picture were "non-Christian" in nature, suggesting a large number of secular, worldly people would view the film.

Won't this be a wonderful discussion point? Don't you just yearn for a means to talk about Jesus over the water cooler or coffee pot?

Superman Returns is that film!

First, at a detail level, the film is secular and immoral.  Man and woman lives together unmarried. Villain blasphemes God saying He does not share his power. Villain compares himself to a false god (Prometheus). Cannibalism is at least suggested as dog eats dog. Lots of non-bloddy violence, some mild swearing. At moments even Superman is a whimp. Woman has child out of wedlock, with at least an implication that the child might be Superman's.

Try, however, not to get caught up in all of the details, for this film, consciously I must suspect, contains a variety of broad arrows all pointing to the Gospel message.

Consider this sampling:

We are told that Jor-El, Superman's father, sent his only son to earth to help make them a great people.  There is language here, and in the earlier movies, about the unity of the father and son, a wonderful discussion point to arrive at the Trinity.

One of the father's comments is that his son will be a "light" to the people, shades of  John 8:12, I am the light of the world.

Superman "hears all," floating through the sky, listening to all, like the omnipresent God hearing all and seeing all in the world.

Lois Lane wins a Pulitzer Prize for her article, "Why the world does not need Superman." Sounds very familiar, a secular world declaring they can all do it themselves and don't need a god. Lois tells Superman, in the context of discussing why the article was written, that the world does not need a "savior." Yet, Superman's repose is that "Every day I hear people crying for one."

The villains girl friend signs "He's got the whole world in his hands." In the vast violence of the film, the globe atop the Daily Planet building falls, with Superman catching the globe to save those on the street. He does indeed have the world in his hands, Many will see this as blaspheme or a play on ancient art, but it is also a picture of God taking care of His Creation.

While not faithful to the chronology of Scripture, Superman has been on earth, done his good deeds, and then disappeared, only now to show back up five years later, once again to save humanity.  Sounds a little like the First and Second Advents of Christ. As the movie progresses, it is clear that Superman has a mission on earth, a mission driven by the words of his father. Again, Jesus tells us He and the Father are One, and that He can only do what His Father commands and is Himself doing. A true sense of mission.

The Cross appears several times as Superman floats through the sky, arms outstretched, appearing as a man on the Cross. After nearly being killed by a kryptonite knife, as Superman lies "dying" in the upper floors of a tall hospital, we see a quick shot of his mother, standing with the crowd at outside the hospital. Mary at the foot of the Cross?

Have you noticed that while the movie makes Superman emotionally whimpy at times, he also has a character that displays compassion and loneliness. People admire him for his powers not for who he is. They look at his "miracles," not at what he stands for. In the case of Superman that is truth, justice, and the American way. Jesus tells us he has no where to lay His head. The crowds leave when Christ's demands become too difficult, being more interested in the miracles than in His teachings.

Superman's name is Kal-El. I could not find a real meaning for either dad's name, Jor-El, nor the son's name. However, in Hebrew, "el" is the singular of a word translated as God.  This, of course, comes from the original creators of the comic books. I wonder if they understood the symbolism of the names?

The movie is not perfect. In its broad strokes, however, one finds a very storing Christian, moral worldview, with people seeking a savoir. The movie has a clear representation of the Cross and savior symbolism, as well as suggestions of end times with the idea of a first and second coming.  The film is tainted by moral issues and violence as noted above. But, ...

I read a lot of the reviews, especially Christian reviews and was disappointed that so many of them played down the Christian symbolism. If one watches the film with an open mind and does not dwell on all of the "bad" parts of the film, this movie has more Christian allegory shining through in plainer fashion than the Narnia tales.

Christians have been crying for a major studio to give us a "real" film that Christians could relate to and use as a discussion vehicle. Superman Returns is probably as close as we can get in today's culture. This is it. Use it. Pray the entire world sees the movie and then takes time to allow you to talk about all of the symbolism of Jesus found in this "pop" film. This is the opportunity of a life time.

Folks, it is time to go see a motive, even if you only see one film all year.

Jim A.

 

Posted On: 2006-07-06 09:40:13 || Comments (0 ) || Add a Comment
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