Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Superman as a Type of Christ

"There's only about 30 plots in every movie, book or TV show in the world and all these plots are found in the Bible"- Peter S. Ruckman

  It is common , for a variety of reasons, to find recurrent themes in literature that also echo great themes of the Bible.  The simple fact is that the world steals these themes, and twists them a bit to get a good story. When it comes time to create a hero, it's impossible  to write a great and noble hero without borrowing the attributes of the greatest Hero of  them all, the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything that is praiseworthy resides in Him, and if your hero is going to have any redeeming qualities at all, he is going to have to have some qualities in common with the Redeemer Himself.  But these attributes manifest themselves rather explicitly in a fictional character who burst on the scene in 1938 and almost  single-handedly defined the  superhero archetype. I speak of course of the Last Son of Krypton, Kal-El, also known as Superman.  I will go on record and say that I know of no other fictional character with so many blatant commonalities with Jesus Christ., and that these commonalities are most obvious in the two movies, Superman and Superman II. These films,  both starring Christopher Reeve in the title role, were originally conceived as one movie, and taken as one movie show an amazing (though imperfect and somewhat out of sequence) typology of the past, present and future work of Jesus Christ.
  Skeptical? You should be. But let's examine the evidence, shall we?

1. The Trial of Zod
  The movie begins on Krypton, the doomed planet of Superman's birth. We the audience are witness to the closing arguments on a trial of Krypton's three greatest criminals. From expository dialogue we know that  the leader of this trio is Zod, once a great Kryptonian general whose lust for power led him to try to overthrow the  Kryptonian government.  Here he stands, in judgment of his failed plot, on the verge of being banished.  Jor-el the great  scientist , appropriately clad in the black robes of judgment, casts the final vote to imprison the trio into outer darkness. Jor -el describes  Zod after this fashion:
"Finally, General Zod. Once trusted by this Council, charged with maintaining the defense of the planet Krypton itself. Chief architect of this intended revolution and author of this insidious plot to establish a new order amongst us. With himself as absolute ruler."

    The Bible says in  Isaiah 14, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit."  
   Zod had Luciferian ambitions, and suffered the same fate. General Zod is the devil in this story, and as the devil he fulfills the role perhaps even better than the writers intended. Listen to his final words before the imprisonment engulfs him, and consider the words of the devil in Matthew 4;  "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." 

  We'll address his two companions in a few moments.

2. Krypton Itself and the El family

  Jor-el does an interesting wardrobe shift immediately after the sentencing of Zod and company. he casts aside the dark robes of judgment and wears the white glowing clothing that apparently is his usual attire. In fact, everyone on Krypton appears to be clothed in white raiment of some kind. Interestingly, the Bible says, in regards to God; "I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool:" Jor-El is a benevolent father; the wisest among a population full of radiant beings, and if Zod is the devil, then Jor-El neatly fits the role of God the Father, with Kal-El's mother inhabiting a rather sketchy role as the Holy Spirit.  
 As an aside, in the later Superman movie "The Man of Steel" , Kal-El is described as being  the only naturally occurring baby on Krypton in centuries, which would technically make him the 'only begotten' of his Father.   I promised myself I would stick to these two movies, but that's just too good to pass up. 
 In the movie , we don't see much of Krypton, but enough to know that is a place with crystal-based technology and light-based technology.  In this it resembles a certain other place, which the Bible says "And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above." (Ezek 1) and "And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal.." ( Rev 4). The habitation of God is described in Rev 21 as thus "And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof."  Krypton, like Heaven, is a place of crystal and light inhabited by at least  one family whose last name (El) is one of the Hebrew words for God.
  With the imminent destruction of the planet on its way , Jor-el and Laura opt to send their baby to Earth, making him the Last Son of Krypton, as compared to "the last Adam". In this particular telling of the story, they  build not a rocket ship, as in earlier incarnations, but a pod comprised of the crystal technology common to Krypton. The pod, when completed, resembles a star. This is especially interesting when you consider that Jesus Christ refers to himself as "the bright and morning star" in Rev. 22:16.
Image result for baby superman pod 1978
  Just before launching their infant son into the void of space, Jor-el makes a speech. 
 Listen carefully to his speech and then consider the  following statements by Jesus Christ.:
  •  "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me." Matthew 10:40
  •  "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me."  John 5:30
  • "..As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father..." John 6:57
  • "..he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.." John 14:9
  • "...the Father is in me, and I in him." John 10:38
  • "I and my Father are one." John 10:30

3. Young Clark Kent
  The Kryptonian pod  makes its way to earth, where its tiny occupant is found by Jonathan and Martha Kent. A simple etymological search reveals that 'Martha ' is a variation on the name 'Mary', which is interesting in itself.  From the very beginning the young Kal-El,(reminiscent of "Emmanuel") hereafter called 'Clark' exhibits a wild variety of unusual abilities including having "eyes as a flaming fire". 

He hides those abilities though, as you can see in this scene.
  As a matter of fact, Clark's self-imposed humility and obscurity reminds me of another Man who the Bible says "made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:"  After the death of Jonathan Kent (mirroring that absence of Joseph in the later life of Jesus), Clark makes his way to Metropolis where he gets a job at the daily Planet,and also soon thereafter, makes his first public appearance as Superman.
Image result for superman headline 1978
She also gives him the name 'Superman', by the way

     At one point in the movie, after Lois Lane scores her interview with Superman , Lex Luthor quotes the article and says that the planet Krypton exploded in 1948. The movie takes place in 1978 which means that Superman is 30 years old when he makes his public appearance!
  For the purposes of this post, we're going to  ignore the whole 'flying backwards around the world to turn back time ' silliness, although it's worth mentioning that, among the Jesus-like attributes that Superman exhibits in that encounter is, technically, the ability raise the dead.
Image result for margot kidder 1978
Lois Lane- dead for now

 4. Meanwhile in the Phantom Zone
Image result for superman ii phantom zone
The Phantom Zone doubles as an album cover
  At the beginning of Superman II, the Man of Steel has been on the scene for some time. In fact, the movie came out in 1980, which means the case could be made that  Superman has been a public figure for almost 3 years at the outset of the movie, making him almost 33.  All this time the three greatest criminals of Krypton have been trapped in the Phantom Zone, and are only released when a nuclear explosion in space shatters their prison.  Unbeknownst to the Last Son of Krypton, the three of them  land on the moon and begin making their way to earth.
  When they land on Earth, they discover that they have amazing powers; the same powers any Kryptonian enjoys under the  glare of earth's yellow sun.  Much like the devil is able to duplicate the miracles of God via "lying signs and wonders", Zod and company are able to do things like walk on water.


Zod as Jesus
  But the comparison doesn't stop there.  It's telling that there are three of them, making them the perfect movie counterparts to the "devil...beast..and false prophet" of Revelation. Once on the scene Zod quickly establishes himself as the head of a one-world government. He clearly isn't opposed to being worshipped and even enjoys being mistaken for "the most High".

5. Where is Superman?
   In the movie, while Zod and his cohorts are taking over the world, Clark Kent has love on his mind; he decides to reveal his identity to Lois and ask the permission of his holographic parents to wed a human.  It's very clearly spelled out by his mother that , in order to attain a bride, he must take on normal human flesh with all its frailties and mortality .  The parallel with Jesus Christ is clear; Christ came "in the likeness of sinful flesh" and "submitted himself unto death" for His brides sake. Superman even sheds his blood before it's all over.

He endured the contradiction of truckers against himself

  Lex Luthor, ever the ambitious quisling, strikes a deal with Zod and reveals key information to the General; the son of his enemy Jor-el is here on earth.  Meanwhile , Clark and Lois see how the world has fallen under Zod in his absence and Clark heads back to the Fortress of Solitude in order to try to regain his powers. The movie is really unclear on how exactly he reverses the irreversible , but here's the parallel; the world thinks Superman is dead, and only his bride knows he's still alive and is coming back for her. 
  Carrying the analogy forward, even Lois begins to despair when suddenly, just when his enemies appear to have the victory, her hero returns, with his powers restored.  The battle goes from Metropolis to the Fortress of Solitude where the Man of Steel dispatches his enemies by placing them in "a bottomless pit".

 The natural order of things restored, and the bully vanquished, the movie ends with Superman helping rebuild the white House and promising to never let the President down again. Or, as the Bible says it "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."

  There, presented for your consideration, from His birth to His death to His resurrection to His eventual victory over His enemies, is the greatest typology of Jesus Christ in  secular literature.  What do you think?

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