by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Starring Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Amy Adams.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s yet another Superman reboot!
Man of Steel is the long-awaited, highly-anticipated reboot of the DC Comics’ Superman franchise. It’s the first time we’ve seen the character at the cinema since 2006’s Superman Returns which was panned by critics. With Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight trilogy) co-producing, my hopes were high. But while Man of Steel has some enjoyable moments, it turned out a super disappointment.
The film is an origins story that begins on planet Krypton. Kal-El (that’s Superman’s real name, in case you didn’t know) is born amongst warfare and immediately sent to Earth by his father Jor-El (Crowe). His destiny is to save the Kyptonian race but he ends up being a source of hope for humanity as well. In Man of Steel, the threat is courtesy of General Zod (Michael Shannon) – a fellow Kryptonian awfully good at giving menacing pouts. The film chronicles Kent’s struggle with the responsibility of donning his tights and red cape. Speaking of which, the cape is pretty much a king-sized red bed sheet. It’s massive.
Man of Steel is rather lengthy, with battle sequences that drag on until the point that entire cities are all but blown up… Couldn’t they have had a desert battle and spared the carnage?
What I really craved was more time focussed on the earthly side of Superman, rather than the Kryptonian side. He is Kryptonian by nature, but earth is his new homeland. Cavill’s take on Kent doesn’t allow us to find any depth in his character. This is the same too for Lois Lane. She’s introduced as a journalist but that’s as deep as her character gets.
Superman has long been seen as a metaphor for Jesus Christ. Read the synopsis above again and see that for yourself. But the thing I found surprising is that in Man of Steel, the producers want you to make these connections: there’s an awkward scene in a church where a stained-glass window of Jesus sits behind Clark’s shoulder, and in another scene Superman flies through space with his arms outstretched in a cross shape.
But why is this metaphor so explicit?
Why are the producers (presumedly non-Christian) wanting us to join the dots?
I wonder whether it’s because our society craves a hero like Jesus, but wants to settle for one that is more palatable. Superman saves the world from evil by throwing punches in impressive fight scenes. But Jesus saves the world through a bloody and horrific death on the cross. Superman inspires us to live a better, upright life. Christians are called to follow Jesus in everything, including, suffering.
The world wants a hero. The world needs a hero. And while there’s much to make of the similarities; Jesus is the ultimate hero. He was sent by his Father to this earth with a mission to save us. And he humbles himself to do so. He was still tempted by evil to not go through with this mission – but nothing stopped him from giving his life for us on the cross.
Unlike Superman, Jesus is both God and man. He came to this earth and grew up both fully God and fully man. He shares in our humanity in a way Clark Kent cannot.
Check out Man of Steel. Consider the Christ metaphor and the connections. But remember that Jesus is real. He has saved us from our sin on the cross, and rose to life victorious – the ultimate hero. And he is worthy of our trust. Jesus is humanity’s one true hope.
I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve seen this film and considered the parallels. I’m giving Man of Steel 3 out of 5 stars.
Man of Steel is out now on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming on Quickflix.