Last night, I went to see Superman Returns with my brother-in-law, Chris. I thought it was an enjoyable movie, very well done. I do have to say that this movie continues in the vein of Spiderman 2 and X-Men 3 of taking the mythology surrounding an established character and ignoring big chunks of it. If you haven't seen the movie yet, you probably don't understand what I'm talking about.
But what I found interesting was the parallels between Jesus and Superman. I know people have debated this and discussed these parallels for years, but Singer, the director of the movie, took them and basically beat us over the head with them.
Again, if you haven't seen the movie, stop reading now.
We have the fact that Singer took Marlon Brando's lines from the first Superman movie that starred Christopher Reeves and emphasized the parts about how Jor-El sent his son to Earth, knowing that he would be some kind of savior. Before this, I had always assumed that as Krypton was about to die, Jor-El picked Earth as a sort of "any port in the storm" deal. Now, though, it's that Jor-El wanted his son to go there and be a hero. Sound familiar?
When Superman comes face to face with Lex Luthor, Luthor sets his boys to beating Superman to a pulp and then, of course, Lex stabs Supes in the side with a shard of kryptonite. Hmmmm. A savior getting stabbed in the side? Where have I heard that before?
Then we have Superman lifting the crystal island out of the ocean so it can't destroy all human life and flying it into space, in the process sacrificing his life. One man shouldering a burden that could condemn all of humanity? Interesting.
Then we have the aftermath of that toss. Superman is brought into a hospital where it sure sounded like they declared him dead. I know, I know, he was in critical condition but the hum of the life-sign monitors screamed "dead" to me.
And finally, you have the nurse finding Superman's empty hospital room, which is followed by Superman appearing to one of his most faithful followers.
Superman = Jesus? In this version of the movie, it would certainly seem so.
Is that a bad thing? I honestly don't know. What I do find interesting is that the Superman story resonates with people so much. When people hear this story, it sparks something inside them. They're drawn to this kind of story. They want to hear about the selfless savior who sacrifices himself for the good of the many. They yearn for a hero who can hear everything at once, who can be at their side in a heartbeat, who can overcome any obstacle, even the grave.
I thought one of the most interesting scenes in the movie was when Superman and Lois Lane are reunited on the roof of the Daily Planet building. Lois is set to win a Pulitzer Prize for an editorial she wrote entitled "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman". It's a belief that she spits at Superman, saying that the world doesn't actually need a savior anymore.
Superman's response is to take Lois up into the clouds where she can't hear anything but, he says, he can hear everything, all the people calling for help. He said that people really do want a savior. And by the end of the movie, Lois is seated at her laptop, converted it would seem, as she tries to write a new editorial entitled "Why the World Needs Superman".
So many people in this world are like Lois. They want a Superman. They want a Savior. Thank God that there is One for them all.