From my earlier review:
There could be discussions going on forever about how Superman is like Jesus, as well as discussions about places where the similarities break down, but it is the choice to make this an overt part of who superman is what brings strength to the film.
Well the past week I’ve seen several negative comments and reviews regarding Man of Steel, especially from Christians. Since my review was generally positive, I’d like to add a follow up:
- This movie is not an allegory. I never intended to indicate that it was in my review and I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. Going through the movie detail by detail pointing out every dissimilarity between this movie and the story of Christ is, I believe, missing the point. The great thing is the fact that it allows us to create discussion, which is the most you can realistically expect from a summer-popcorn-blockbuster.
- I’m not going to go point-for-point and answer every criticism on where the similarities break down because that would be Tedious and I think the movie is meant to create discussion, not treatises. But, to address one of the complaints I’ve heard, it involves (spoilers) the fact that at the end of the movie Superman kills Zod. I knew when I saw it that it was going to controversial among long-time Superman fans as well as Christians noting the Christ imagery. Some say that it’s too far off the character of Jesus for Superman to be effective as even an abstract Christ image. I guess if were forced to draw the metaphor out, I believe Zod is representative of Satan. Read about the battle of revelation and you tell me if you think that God intends to love Satan to death.
- It was a basically respectful view of Christ out of the same guy who brought us Watchmen, 300, and Suckerpunch. Let’s think about how amazing that is. I can already imagine hearing from the filmmakers, “We give up. We tried our best to put Jesus in a movie and you guys complained. You complain about everything.” Can we, for a moment, celebrate the fact that someone in the entertainment industry saw value in the person of Christ?
- The most valid point in any of this, I think, is the concern that Jesus is being used as a device to “spice up” the story in order to get Christians interested. I’d say that this is almost definitely the case as the director is not a Christian. To me this is the issue tha troubles me the most. I don’t like the idea of “using” Christ for personal gain. But keeping this in mind, when you see dissimilarities between Christ and the movie, understand that there were probably really few actual Christians involved in the production process. To this I’d say don’t look a gift horse in the mouth – at least not while the gifting farmer is still there. I’d challenge you to think of these people as you would a young Christian telling their story. They may not know all the words to use or the exact right theology, but they’re trying – even if they don’t have the best motivation.
- No, the movie is not the gospel message. And yes, if you take it literally there are many problems. Some problems probably do need to be addressed, so I don’t mean to sound overly pejorative toward those who are addressing them, but to be honest, I expect very little from hollywood. I want to be as affirming as possible of their efforts to satisfy the Christian community. As someone who was reminded this weekend of all my Christian friends who are working in the film industry, I just want to say how hard it is to get any kind of overt Christian message into a mainstream movie.
The only two big block-buster movies I can think of that basically get it right are Les Miserables and Passion of the Christ. The former was popular because it was a well-known broadway musical and the latter was a hit mainly because it was seen as controversial. I don’t put Man of Steel in the same category as those films. It’s more of a look at Jesus from the view of a non-christian, which I always find helpful. And, again, that is why some commentary may be necessary.
I want to say this: Jesus can take care of himself. To quote Shane Hipps, The Gospel needs fewer guards and more gardeners. Don’t be threatened by the fact that every detail doesn’t match up with a Christian worldview. See this film as what it is: an opportunity to talk about Jesus where otherwise there wasn’t one.