This is another re-post of something that I blogged about a while back at The Nerd Machine. I might post one or two more things that I originally posted there, but after that everything will be new posts. This post is something that I thought about after watching Man of Steel.
A few weeks ago, I finally got around to watching Man of Steel, and I thought it was pretty good. But, as I often do about things like this, I got on a little bit of a Superman kick, and I started reading Wikipedia articles and different things online about the mythology of Superman. I also started re-watching the TV show Smallville about Clark Kent as a teenager that used to be on the WB/CW. During all of this indulgence in the world of Superman, I suddenly realized that Superman is probably the most obvious metaphor for Jesus Christ in all of pop culture.
MINOR SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t seen Man of Steel or the TV show Smallville, there may be some minor spoilers below, but I don’t give away any major plot twists or anything.
To start with there are a few very obvious parallels between Christ and Superman. First of all, they were both sent to Earth from the heavens (or space) by their fathers. They were also both babies when they were sent to Earth and grew up to save the world. It is also worth noting that they had parents with very similar names. Jesus’s Earthly parents were named Mary and Joseph, and Superman’s Earthly parents were named Martha and Jonathon.
There are also several more subtle references to Christ. In the comics, movies, and even in Smallville, Superman at one point or another dies (or at least appears to be dying) and then somehow comes back to life and ends up saving the day. In one episode of Smallville, the writers and directors were obviously playing up this metaphor. In this episode, Clark has lost his powers, and he gets shot. When he is lying on the pavement bleeding out, there is a camera angle from above looking down at him with his arms spread out to the sides and blood pooling at his ribs. This is obviously meant to reflect the image of Jesus hanging on the cross after being stabbed in the side. There are also several other specific examples from that very same episode as well as many other episodes of Smallville that I have noticed, but I won’t go into all of them now.
One other example that I thought I would point out from Man of Steel is seen when Superman is debating on whether he should turn himself over to Zod to save everyone else on Earth. He goes to a church to seek council from a priest. This is remarkably similar to Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before he was to be crucified. In fact, there was actually a stained-glass window visible in that scene that depicted Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane.
There are numerous other examples of parallels between Christ and Superman that can be found in probably every version of Superman that has ever been produced, but for some reason I had never really thought about it until recently.