The Man of Steel: One like the Son of Man

“He will be an outcast, they’ll kill him.  How?  He will be like a god to them” Lara Van-El and Jor-El

Almost from the start of Man of Steel – the new, and 6th, Superman theatrical release – the impression is giving that Kal-El of Krypton is an allusion to Jesus Christ.  It is unknown if this was intentional on the part of producer Christopher Nolan, writer David Goyer, and director Zack Snyder.  I would argue that their intent is irrelevant, because such allusions come froth if one is true to the character.

Siegel and Shuster, the creators of Superman in the late 1930’s, were Jewish men.  In order to create Superman they drew upon stories of Old Testament heroes like Moses and Samson – individuals who serve as Christ-figures in the Old Testament, forerunners to Jesus.  Moses was sent away from his family for his own safety and raised by others.  The same with Christ, having been sent to Earth by the Heavenly Father – in the form of a human baby – and raised by human parents.  Sampson was the strongest man who ever lived, and had but one weakness.  His calling, to protect his people from the evil of the Philistines.

How Siegel and Shuster viewed this character through their Heritage is no secret (or shouldn’t be).  Clark Kent/Superman’s birth name is Kal-EL;  his Kryptonian father, Jor-El; his uncle, Zor-EL; and his cousin, Kara Zor-EL (the latter two don’t appear in the film but are established characters in the Superman mythos).  In Hebrew, EL is the root of Elohim, one of the names of God.  Additionally, various names of/for God used in the Old Testament to describe facets of his character use “EL” as a precursor.  Such examples include:   El-Shaddai, the All-Sufficent God; El-Emet, the God of Truth; El-Hanne’eman, the Faithful God; El-Elyon, the Most High God; El-Olam, the Everlasting God; El-Gibbor, the Mighty God; El-De’ot, the God of Knowledge; and El-Hashamayim. the God of the Heavens.  In Man of Steel, Johnathan Kent even tells Clark:  “You have another Father who gave you another name”.  That conjures up examples from both the Old Testament and the New wherein individuals were given other names by God: Abram/Abraham, Jacob/Israel, Simon/Peter, Saul/Paul, and the reference in Revelation 2:17 to a white stone with a new name known only to the one who receives it.  In the previous chapter of the book of Revelation, the Apostle John sees a vision of one like a son of man; an individual with a countenance and abilities that can only be attributed to a superhero-esque character.

Clark Kent’s path in Man of Steel is also one similar to Christ.  The birth of Kal-EL is the first natural birth in hundreds of years on Krypton, an impossibility, a miracle.  Clark’s earthly parents expend much effort to hide who he really is from the outside world until the world is ready.  Clark spends a portion of his life wandering in wilderness.  Someone comes searching for him (Lois).  He would sometimes do miraculous things but not want known who he was.  At age 33, Clark willingly gives himself over to the United States Military who then betrays him and turns him over to Zod and Feora.  Pair these events alongside Christ’s virgin birth, little being known of Christ’s years prior to the outset of his public ministry at age 30, his time in the wilderness, people having sought him out because of the stories they’d heard about feeding the hungry and healing the sick but sometimes not wanting it made public and requesting as much from the individual he healed, and his betrayal and handing over to evil men at age 33.

Add to all of this efforts on the part of Warner Bros. to market the film to Christians though preview screenings and assisting in the creation of sermon materials, and the allusions are made all the clearer.  The Jury may still be out as to this being a good thing, but consider the words of Paul in Philippians 1:18:  But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.  Movie-goers are being confronted with facets of the gospel message in a major blockbuster film, and as someone who has gone to church in a movie theater for the last eight years; can I really say “nay” to that?  Negative, Ghostrider.

Are there other Superheros who are a reflection of biblical ideas?  If so, who?

Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

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