Wednesday, July 3, 2013

At best, Man of Steel's Christology is Much Ado About Nothing

Perhaps I should begin by apologizing to anyone here looking for commentary on Joss Whedon's new movie rendition of Shakespeare's play (which I can't wait to see).  The phrase, however, neatly sums up the Superman movie Man of Steel.

First off, I simply did not enjoy it.  It is not fun:  at all.  I have no problem with and welcome darker takes in superhero genre, but feel that at least some aspect of it should be fun, or at least smart.  The loud mostly non-stop action of Man of Steel lacked joy in every aspect:  and without some joy, there's little exploration of humanity (which is the usual realm of superhero movies).

Man of Steel, however, has received some attention because of the attempt by Warner Brothers and other PR groups to link it to pastors and churches by saying "Hey, Superman is like Jesus!"

Is this an accurate statement?  

Certainly the Superman to Jesus comparison has been made numerous times over the years.  There are at least two big-time attempts in Man of Steel to invoke Jesus:

(Here come the spoilers)

Clark (he gets the Superman name later), in his discerning whether or not to turn himself into US authorities so they can extradite him to General Zod, goes into a church to talk with a priest.  He recalls his conversations with his human father, Jonathan Kent, who (in the best scenes of the movie, thanks to Kevin Costner) counsels that humanity will hate and fear what they don't understand.  "So should I trust humanity?", asks Clark, with the Jesus in Gethsemane (where he discerns and prays) stained-glass window in the background.  The priest counsels the need for faith.  

As Clark pushes away from Zod's ship, and the vision of his Kryptonian father, he forms the shape of the cross.

(Some would give the ending "He saved us...he saved us all" Jesus billing as well, but it alludes to Jesus only because of the other images.  Superheroes save people a lot, without necessarily invoking Jesus.)

There are problems with the Superman to Jesus comparison in general, and they mostly revolve around violence.  Two smart reactions are found by Mark Sandlin, who addresses the violence issue, and Aric Clark, who brilliantly describes a plot that would make Superman like Jesus.

One thing I ask myself:  do I think the filmmakers really trying to say Superman is like a modern day Jesus?  Or were they just trying to give a bit of potential conversation towards savior and chosen one aspects, not unlike Neo in The Matrix?  I wrote this on Facebook after seeing the movie:

Well: I saw the movie. Didn't care for it at all. Costner was the best part... I have to agree with Chrisi in that there's just not that much worth discussing in this movie, other than the way WB has tried to market it to pastors. Sure, they threw in a lot of Jesus/Christ images and words that get associated with Christianity...but really didn't say much other than "look: Superman's sorta like Jesus...  Were they attempting to appeal broadly to Christians by saying "We've framed Superman in a picture with a Jesus scene...and they're BOTH wrestling with what they are going to do next...and they both do what they should!!!" (Oooooooo....) Or were they trying to appeal the more "Americanized "kick-butt" Jesus" that gets preached by Driscoll and the likes? 

Whichever one it is, it's a pretty shallow attempt.  


tonip1 said...

Thanks, I thought it was just me, and I can't wait for Wheedon's take on the Bard either. :)

Charla said...