I’ve been looking forward to the new Superman movie because I love the mythic power of comic book movies. As I’ve scanned the various reviews, I’ve noted multiple writers suggesting a link between this new Superman and Jesus Christ. MSNBC calls Superman the “inspiring story of a savior.” NY Times suggests that Superman has come to save mankind from its sins. And in one sense, superheros do reveal some savior characteristics.
But as much as I want to see the film, it is hard for me to see Superman as Christ. I was actually joking to someone yesterday that Superman is just like Jesus except that Superman is strong and Jesus is weak. The mystery and offense of Jesus is the cross. He comes in weakness. He is mocked, rejected and eventually killed. Yes he does demonstrate feats of strength through miracles but his miracles are clearly not the focus of his ministry. The cross is the defining event of his life. Von Balthasar says that Jesus falls so low that all future human falling and failing is falling into him.
In his weakness, we find one who can cover our weakness and failures. And despite our bravado, most realize our frailty and falleness. I hope.
As I was thinking about this, I found an interesting perspective from Acton Institute. Jordan Bailor writes:
Superman, the secular savior-figure, manifests the superlative qualities that the world worships: power, strength, immortality. Jesus Christ embodies mercy, weakness, and suffering. But as Paul also writes, “The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.”
I think is interesting that the film is titled “Superman Returns.” Sort of like the return of Christ. And this makes me think of how someitimes Christians like to emphasize Jesus Christ returning in POWER. Sometimes I wonder if we are embarassed of the weakly Jesus and can’t wait to serve a Jesus that busts a few heads.
I guess the message of the cross offends just about everyone.