The Kryptonian Gospel
'Superman Returns' presents a gospel story as moving as 'The Passion of the Christ'--and possibly more affecting.
BY: Stephen Skelton
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."
When Superman and Lois finally meet face to face for the first time in five years, she reveals her anger at him for his unexplained disappearance. In his absence, she'd even won a Pulitzer Prize for an article entitled, "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman." In an almost anti-Christic line, she bluntly tells him: "The world doesn't need a savior. And neither do I." To which Superman gently replies, "You wrote that the world doesn't need a savior. But everyday I hear people crying for one."
But despite his broken heart, Superman must face a more far-reaching and potentially tragic challenge. Lex Luthor (our "Lex Lucifer") has been released from prison--like Lucifer released from the prison of the Abyss. Once free, Luthor immediately sets about his plan to create a worldly kingdom (sound biblically familiar?): Using land-forming crystals stolen from Superman's Fortress of Solitude, he plans to raises a new landmass in the middle of the ocean, obliterating billions of people in the process, paralleling the events predicted in theBible for Armageddon
. In an exchange laced with Satanic undertones, Lex's girlfriend Kitty, upon hearing his plan, reminds him, "You're not a god." Lex shoots back: "Gods are selfish beings who fly around in little red capes and don't share their power with mankind."
In one of Superman's confrontations with his arch-enemy, Luthor stabs Superman in the right side with a kryptonite dagger, which recalls the spear that pierced the right side of Christ. Our superhero then undergoes a brief reenactment of the march of the Passion. Superman tries to crawl away from his persecutors while struggling under the weight of kryptonite poisoning. His recovery is only one of two resurrections he undergoes in the movie; the second even involves the discovery of the modern-day equivalent of an empty tomb.
Superman discovers to his horror that the entire landmass Luthor created is laced with kryptonite. Here, as in other stories of Superman, kryptonite represents sin: Not only does kryptonite cause great pain to our Christ figure, but it gives power to his evil enemies.
In setting about to rescue the world from this deadly danger, Superman symbolically takes the weight of a world of sin upon himself. As in the Gospel story, this supreme act of sacrificial suffering has disastrous consequences and Superman plummets back toward the Earth--in the crucifixion pose, no less.
As a parable of Christ, "Superman Returns" is truly miraculous. And as a mainstream movie, the film has it all: solid storytelling, fast-paced action, eye-popping special effects (some used for Christic effect), and even romance. See it. Soar with it. And, just in case you go with a non-Christian, be prepared to quote book, chapter, and verse from this latest and perhaps best edition of the Kryptonian gospel--as well as from that original story it so clearly parallels.