Friday, June 14, 2013

Superman, Man of Steel

I just started my 13th year of contributing to Hollywood Jesus. HJ has had an impact on me and with the help of greats like David Bruce, I have for years recognized my ability to find seeds of truth in film to plant in ones search for truth regarding spiritual matters. One of the first things I ever read at Hollywood Jesus was from David Bruce. While some point out the fallacies of certain films, like Superman, I have never abandoned my belief in David’s vision, of using film to find seeds of truth to plant in one’s mind regarding their own search for truth. Of course I am unapologetic as to what I believe that truth to be but I have always tried to be respectful, hoping that maybe, just maybe, there is something I will write that will cause one to think deeper about spiritual things and come to the same conclusions I have. For those who are critical of this approach, I am reminded of what the Bible says, “Jesus never taught them anything without first telling them stories. After he told them the stories he would gather together his disciples and explain their meaning.” Movies are a contemporary form of storytelling. This is why I fell in love with the approach used by David Bruce all those years ago.

One of the best examples of this I have seen is David’s review of Superman back in 1998. That review cab be seen at an archived page of the original Hollywood Jesus at: With the viewing of Superman, Man of Steel, I found myself recalling that review. Most of the points David mentions in his original review, which turned heads, are still present in the new movie. There are a few points of interest I want to point out specifically related to Superman, Man of Steel, but before doing so, go back in time and see what David picked up on in his original review in 1998.

Many know the story of Superman but few have likely thought of the spiritual imagery throughout the story. A powerful being from another planet is sent to earth to take on human form to be raised as a human; he is seemingly all powerful and has an immense love for the human species. He has as some would point out a sacrificial love where he is willing to offer himself up for the salvation of all people. He is raised by Jonathan (Joseph) and Martha (Mary) (Again see David’s original review.) Kent. They are fully aware of his powers and origins but raise him with integrity and morals. As Clark grows up he recognizes some things his earthly parents don’t understand. He has an ongoing relationship with his father, now a spirit of sorts who keeps him informed and reminded of his purpose. Clark has a dark and deceitful enemy who would destroy all of humanity, even the son of his nemesis, Jorel, Kalel (Clark Kent’s original name) father. One of the things we see is the value Clark has for people of faith, including a pastor of a church where we see continual shots of either a cross or Jesus as a Shepherd in a conversation between the two. We also see times where Clark looks to the cross or a church for answers to questions he is facing. Clark has rugged experiences of working as a fisherman, a builder and other vocations, while rescuing people. We see a drastic change in his life after a scene that resembles a baptism; he offers himself up for the salvation of others, seemingly cast into the sea where he takes on the position of a crucified savior. He emerges with a new purpose to discover himself.

If Man of Steel is lacking in any area it is in character development.  What we do learn about the characters is largely via flashback sequences; as a result we lose the impact of seeing the characters develop. The special effects, sound and costuming is incredible. I saw the film in 3-D and recommend people not waste their money for 3-D as there just isn’t enough to justify the extra cost. 

While in many ways the story is lacking I suspect there will be those who appreciate the strong spiritual emphasis in the film as much as I did. In some ways this is more obvious than in past Superman films. There are times Henry Cavill looks more like Jesus than Clark Kent, beard and all. I suspect this was done with intent in presenting the savior of the world. Amy Adams does a good job as Lois Lane and Michael Shannon does a very nice job as General Zod. I especially liked Russell Crowe as Kalel’s (Clark Kent’s) Kriptonian father and Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent. Diane Lane as Martha Kent has not gotten the press, but she was spectacular. The casting was near perfect and I would like to see Cavill back as Superman in other films, even a Justice League film. I would also like to see a little better story though. 

While Superman, Man of Steel is far from perfect, it is a near perfect character (Clark Kent/Superman) that can be used to point people towards the person of Jesus; the one many believe to be the real savior of the world. The associations and similarities may be far more intended than some would admit but for more on that point, see that 1998 review by David Bruce. 

I am giving a higher than expected score for this film which may surprise many, it is due to the enjoyment I had, despite the lack of story. On a scale of 1 – 10, for the number that kind of resembles an S for Superman, especially if doubled, I give an enjoyable, entertaining 8.

The following is a clip from ABC featuring the cast of Man of Steel speaking about the film.  To see it click on the trailer, if the trailer doesn't appear, click on the following link:

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