This Friday, millions of Americans will flock to theaters to see Iron Man 3, the latest expansion of the Marvel universe series of films. Early reviews are good and I’ll likely go see it, even after the failure that was Iron Man 2. But, honestly, you can have Tony Stark. My focus is on the June 14 release of Man of Steel, the latest Superman movie, (yes, even after the unwatchable 2006 Superman Returns).
If you haven’t already watched the trailer for Man of Steel, I highly recommend you check it out here:
Of course, it’s impossible for me to offer my opinion of a film that I haven’t seen. Regardless, I can’t seem to stop watching that trailer which plays up the aspect of Superman I’ve always found most interesting: the Christ-nature of the character.
I have to recognize that Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman also played up the Christ theme in the story of a boy who came down from “the heavens,” eventually growing to embody superhuman abilities which made him the protector of humanity. Superman, of course, lays himself down for us, physically speaking, time and time again. At one point in the film, Christopher Reeve is actually cruciform flying through space, near death, only to be “resurrected” to vanquish evil.
While this element of the story has been played up before, if the trailer for Man of Steel is any indication, Director Zack Snyder has taken the spiritual dimension of Superman to an even deeper level, capturing an element of Catholic-esque spirituality. Consider again, the words spoken in the trailer by Jor-El, Superman’s Father, played by Russell Crowe:
What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society intended?
What if a child aspired to something greater?
[To his son]
You will give the people of earth an ideal to strive for.
They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun.
In time you will help them accomplish wonders.
It’s one thing to recognize a Superman who will lay down his life for humanity. It’s quite another to posit Superman as an ideal to whom we should strive.
It’s one thing to talk about Jesus as one who laid down his life for the forgiveness of our sins. It’s another to posit him as the example of holiness and relationship to God to whose example we should strive to emulate.
This, I think, is one of the biggest things I’m learning as a Catholic. Each day, I make a little step towards sainthood. Some days I stumble. Many days I fall. But, I want to accomplish wonders on this earth to the glory of God and, one day, step into the sun with him.