Both are heroes sent to earth by fathers to serve mankind
LOS ANGELES - First there were the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Now, for many Christian moviegoers comes another gospel.
As the hype machine shifts into high gear for the upcoming release of ‚ÄúSuperman Returns,‚ÄĚ some are reading deeply into the film whose hero returns from a deathlike absence to play savior to the world.
‚ÄúIt is so on the nose that anyone who has not caught on that Superman is a Christ figure, you think, ‚ÄėWho else could it be referring to?‚ÄĚ‚Äô said Steve Skelton, who wrote a book examining parallels between Superman and Christ.
As one of society‚Äôs most enduring pop-culture icons, Superman has often been observed as more than just a man in tights.
In his early 1930‚Äôs comic-book incarnation, he was a hero of the New Deal, aiding the destitute and cleaning up America‚Äôs slums, said Tom De Haven, author of a book about Superman‚Äôs status as an American icon and a novel about the hero‚Äôs high-school days.
By the 1950‚Äôs, fears of postwar urban lawlessness had turned him into a tireless crime fighter, while his early television persona envisioned him as an idealized father figure, De Haven said.
More recently, Quentin Tarantino had the villain of ‚ÄúKill Bill: Vol. 2‚ÄĚ wax philosophical about the Man of Steel: ‚ÄúClark Kent is how Superman views us... Clark Kent is Superman‚Äôs critique on the whole human race.‚ÄĚ
Some have also seen the hero as a gay icon, forced to live a double life with his super-self in the closet. A recent edition of the gay magazine ‚ÄúThe Advocate‚ÄĚ even asked on its cover, ‚ÄúHow gay is Superman?‚ÄĚ
Father, who art in Krypton
But the comparison to Jesus is one that‚Äôs been made almost since the character‚Äôs origin in 1938, said Skelton, author of ‚ÄúThe Gospel According to the World‚Äôs Greatest Superhero.‚ÄĚ
Many simply see the story of a hero sent to Earth by his father to serve mankind as having clear enough New Testament overtones. Others have taken the comparison even further, reading the ‚ÄúEl‚ÄĚ in Superman‚Äôs original name ‚ÄúKal-El‚ÄĚ and that of his father ‚ÄúJor-El‚ÄĚ as the Hebrew word for ‚ÄúGod,‚ÄĚ among other theological interpretations.
‚ÄúSuperman Returns,‚ÄĚ which premieres June 28, has been drawing its own comparisons to biblical accounts, especially after the appearance of its trailer earlier this year.