Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why we still need Superman

Superman. Man of Steel. The blue and red guy. Whatever you call him. We still need him.

Chris, what on earth are you talking about?

Well, first of all, I'm not a movie critic. Second of all, I really do like movies. Especially movies that have a point to make. It has been said that every movie preaches a sermon. I couldn't agree more, so why not approach a movie as if you were going to hear a message?

Last night, I went with some friends to watch the opening of Man of Steel. The theater was packed and the seats were at least already 1/2 full by the time we walked in 25 minutes till show time. Man of Steel had already made close to 200 million dollars before opening weekend, so people were ready to see this latest relaunch of the Superman franchise (including yours truly).

I had just read earlier that day two movie reviews which did not give the movie good marks at all. One was even a one and a half stars out of five! So....I was a little nervous the movie might actually be bad. Well, in my non-movie critic opinion, they reviewers were wrong. It was almost all I could have hoped for in a Superman relaunch (no pun intended).

So, why write a blog about it? Because Superman, from the very basis of his story line, presents the closest thing to a messiah figure out of all the superheros. What intrigued me most about this new take on Superman is the attempt to develop more of his humanity. His struggle growing up in a world that is not his own. With people who are not like him...and yet are. Who can't do what he can do...yet could do more. And a people that he has grown to love. That he desires to serve. That he desires to save.

Superman is imperfect as a perfect mirror of Jesus, but he is a great shadow. A shadow of a reality that some 2000 years ago was born in a dirty, stinking stable to humble human parents.He wrestled with what it meant to be human. To grow up in a world that He made but was not the way it was intended to be. With people who are not like him...and yet are. Who can't do what he can do...yet in His strength can do more than they ever thought. That He desires to serve. That He desires to save.

Russell Crowe did a great job as Superman's real dad. He was believable and his heart was true to his cause. Yet, it was Kevin Costner who I believe stole the show. I think Kevin is a fantastic father figure and he should spend the rest of his acting career doing such roles. He carried off perfectly the balance between strong yet humble. He raised a good boy in Superman and by good I mean moral, restrained, caring, strong, and compassionate.

The weakest points in the movie were the priest/reverend guy and his response to an extremely important question and Louis Lane. The priest's ultimate answer was good but his initial response could have been written in as better. The setting was just right and shot just right for an amazing spiritual moment...but alas the consult for such a thing in the movie was lacking. When I say Louis Lane, I don't mean her whole character. I just mean it got a bit tiresome that she happened to be anywhere and everywhere that Superman was in increasing measure towards the end of the movie.

So, Chris, you still haven't explained the title of this post. Ok, ok....first let me say that in Man of Steel, like in many movies Hollywood does, you will find an undercurrent of humanism. This false idea that humanity can rise to the cause if just given enough time, motivation, and help. But with that said, Superman stands in complete contradiction to that idea.  Superman is the capstone of superheroes. A friend of mine said that if you don't tap into his humanity, he is the most boring superhero of them all because he simply doesn't have any weaknesses except bits of his home planet which are pretty hard to come by. Because he is so powerful, he demonstrates just how weak the rest of humanity is. Man of Steel does a good job pointing out that, even it they had wanted to, there was not a single thing humanity could have done to stop General Zod (horrible bad guy name by the way) and his lackeys.

It was Superman or is was destruction. Only this one man could literally save the world. So, Superman confronts the notion of humanism and finds it lacking.

That, my friends, is the best shadow of Jesus that Superman could hope to offer. Just as the movie presents no other option but for Superman to save the day, the Bible presents that there is no other option but for Jesus to save the day. Every other god, every other worldview, every other religion falls short and is found wanting. Jesus and Jesus alone can save.

I could say a lot more about Kevin Costner and his shadow of Joseph the father of Jesus but that will be for a sermon sometime in the future.

So, yes, we still need Superman. We need Superman to remind us that we can not do it all on our own. In fact, left to our own strength, intelligence, and desires we will destroy ourselves.

We need Superman because we need Jesus.

Jesus didn't fly around saving people wearing a cool blue suit with the symbol of hope on His chest (very cool by the way) but rather was lifted up for the world to see on a cross that cost Him His life with the symbol of hope slashed into his skin. Then, He dies so that we might be saved. But the story doesn't end there, he rose from the dead that we might live with Him, and yes, indeed, my friends, He did go up into the clouds and will come again from the clouds to bring about the close to all time. He is not a superhero. He is the prototype that superheros are based on.

Superman is amazing because Jesus in amazing. May the world understand that.

We still need Superman.