The Kryptonian Gospel
'Superman Returns' presents a gospel story as moving as 'The Passion of the Christ'--and possibly more affecting.
. David Bruce, the founder ofHollywoodJesus.com
, tells me that the offline email correspondence he has received about "Superman Returns" almost rivals that of "The Passion of the Christ."
It is an apt comparison, in many ways. Certainly, the studio behind "Superman Returns" has hopes for a "Passion"-sized box office take. But there is also a spiritual kinship in the subject matter itself. Like "The Passion," at the center of "Superman Returns" is a figure based on the Savior.
As the movie opens, we hear Jor-El, Superman's Kryptonian father, once again establish this as the story of a heavenly father who sends his only son down to Earth. "You will travel far, my little Kal-El, but we will never leave you—even in the face of our deaths. You will make my strength your own. You will see my life through your eyes, as your life will be seen through mine. The son becomes the father. And the father, the son."
Moments later, we learn that Superman--our Christ figure--left Earth five years ago and ascended to the heavens, returning to his home planet Krypton to confirm that it was destroyed. The time he is away from Earth is reminiscent of the time between Christ's ascension and return. While gone, he finds that he is, in fact, the planet's only survivor--the Only Son.
When Superman comes back to Earth, he finds a world much worse off than when he left. Most upsetting to him personally, Lois Lane--our Mary figure, with resonances of both the Magdalene and Mary the mother--has moved on. She has a fiancé and a 5-year-old son named Jason (which is a derivation of the name Jesus).
I've already heard from several Christians upset at this plot point--Lois Lane having a child out of wedlock. But I don't think that's the only interpretation. Watch carefully, and you'll find suggestions of virgin birth--not surprising, given the heavy gospel allusions throughout the movie.
Superman, depressed over the apparent loss of the love of his life, soars into the heavens to clear his head. While hovering over the Earth in the silence of space, the voice of his father reminds him of his heavenly mission. "They can be a great people, Kal-El; they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the Way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you—my only son."