Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Gospel According to Superman

Christ figure? Gay activist? Or champion of the big-government New Deal? Boy, there's a lot on the Man of Steel's plate these days.

Some view new Superman as Christ figure

First there were the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

Now, for many Christian moviegoers comes another gospel.

As the hype machine shifts into high gear for the upcoming release of “Superman Returns,” some are reading deeply into the film whose hero returns from a deathlike absence to play savior to the world.

“It is so on the nose that anyone who has not caught on that Superman is a Christ figure, you think, ‘Who else could it be referring to?”’ said Steve Skelton, who wrote a book examining parallels between Superman and Christ.

As one of society’s most enduring pop-culture icons, Superman has often been observed as more than just a man in tights.

In his early 1930’s comic-book incarnation, he was a hero of the New Deal, aiding the destitute and cleaning up America’s slums, said Tom De Haven, author of a book about Superman’s status as an American icon and a novel about the hero’s high-school days.

By the 1950’s, fears of postwar urban lawlessness had turned him into a tireless crime fighter, while his early television persona envisioned him as an idealized father figure, De Haven said.

More recently, Quentin Tarantino had the villain of “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” wax philosophical about the Man of Steel: “Clark Kent is how Superman views us... Clark Kent is Superman’s critique on the whole human race.”

Some have also seen the hero as a gay icon, forced to live a double life with his super-self in the closet. A recent edition of the gay magazine “The Advocate” even asked on its cover, “How gay is Superman?”

Of course, the human soul knows its condition. Every soul knows it needs a savior, that's why we create heroes.