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The Savior

Superman Returns director Bryan Singer talks about his movie to Christianity Today:

The guys who created Superman were Jewish, so I don’t think they intended him to be a Christ figure, but he seems to have kind of become that over the years.

Singer: I don’t think Jesus … Well, I can’t get into religious things, but um…

Well, you are talking to Christianity Today!

Singer: Well, yeah, that’s true, so I guess it’s going to come up! (Laughs) I think that it [Superman as Christ figure] is kind of a natural evolution, because he began as kind of a Moses figure, of the child sent by the parents down the river to fulfill a destiny.


Kind of as a liberator in response to Hitler and the Nazis?

Singer: Yes. The Second World War presented an interesting dilemma for the Superman creators, because he was a very much an inspirational figure for the troops—and yet even though he was so powerful, he did not simply go clean up the Nazi menace and solve all the problems in Europe. He helped out, but he primarily led by example. He stirred others; he inspired. He left the actual heroism to the real heroes, to the soldiers in the field and abroad, and in that way, he became this very inspiring figure.

And that, obviously, translates into these kinds of allegories, Christ being a natural one, because Superman’s a savior. And even more so in my film, because he’s gone for a period of time, and then he returns. For me to say that those messianic images don’t exist in the movie would be absurd.

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posted June 26, 2006 at 1:27 pm

The guys who created Superman were Jewish, so I don’t think they intended him to be a Christ figure
Huh?? Will someone tell the folks over at Christianity Today that Christians did not invent the idea of the Christ, that is, the Messiah, out of whole cloth. The idea of the Messiah is a Jewish idea. Indeed, the idea of a militaristic, superhero Messiah is distinctly Jewish, not Christian.

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posted June 26, 2006 at 1:35 pm

I find it a little amusing that Singer was initially reluctant to talk about the religious overtones (though his comments were very interesting) given that the trailer and the movie have the most blatant Messianic allusion possible- Kal-El’s father voicing over “They only lack the light to show the way. And so I send them you, my only son.”
Excellent point by Bender, by the bye.

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posted June 26, 2006 at 1:56 pm

“Indeed, the idea of a militaristic, superhero Messiah is distinctly Jewish, not Christian.”
Very perceptive. Like Spartacus, Superman seems the embodiment of the Messiah the Chief Priests and Rabbi’s of Jesus’s time were expecting.

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posted June 26, 2006 at 1:59 pm

I saw an advance screening of Superman Returns two weeks ago.
The Christological references are definitely there.
Unlike Steven Greydanus, who loved the movie (see this week’s National Catholic Register), I think it’s a real disappointment. I have never seen a movie with such poorly motivated characters. The movie should have been called: Superman Returns: But Why?

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mark b

posted June 26, 2006 at 2:38 pm

I reviewed it for Spero News here. It is a terrible movie and the use of Christian iconography and themes is shameless in the sense of being badly and so baldly used.
Oh yes, Superman has also become quite the immoralist lacking in manly virtues.

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posted June 26, 2006 at 3:11 pm

For about the two-hundredth time: the director has no control over the cutting of the trailer or the marketing of the movie, and both are frequently misleading, so please stop talking like either of those offer much definitive insight into the film’s use of religious iconography.
(PS: not aimed at those of you who’ve seen the movie.)

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posted June 26, 2006 at 3:24 pm

Really, what is Mr. Singer doing at Christianity Today? What has Superman to do with the Christ at all?

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posted June 26, 2006 at 4:41 pm

Well–he is a son sent from above from his father to save the world. He performs marvelous acts while saving the world. He is a man, yet above men (super). His name es Kal-El and his father’s name is Jor-El. “El” as in a Biblical name for God.
Micha el – Who is like God?
Isra el – One who has struggled with God
Gabri el – Strong one of God
Rapha el – Healing one of God
Immanu el – God is with Us
He is clearly meant to be a Christ-like figure. There are many Christ-like figures in fiction. None of them are perfect metaphors. But then if they were perfect they would be Christ.

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posted June 26, 2006 at 6:22 pm

In the movie Superman ends up in the hospital. Why or what happens after that I don’t know.

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posted June 29, 2006 at 9:28 am

I just posted my review of Superman Returns. The Christology of the movie is, I think, a form of Docetism.

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