Note: **Spoiler Alert**. The following analysis of the new Superman movie – Man of Steel – does not give away the ending but does reveal details about the film you may not want to know about if / until you see it.
By Ben Barrack
At the very core of the story of Superman exists strong Christian symbolism; a child with superior strength and abilities is sent to earth from another world to save and protect mankind. Jesus also had both a heavenly Father and earthly parents. However, in Man of Steel (MOS), starring Henry Cavill as Superman (Kal-El), Christian symbolism is in superabundance – so too is Islamic symbolism. The film’s director – Zack Snyder – is not new to pitting such forces against one another in his films. In the movie 300, early pioneers in the war of civilizations – the Spartans and Persians – fought against each other at the Battle of Thermopylae.
In MOS, before Kripton is destroyed, Superman’s real father (Jor-El) goes to great lengths and sacrifice to send His son to earth, along with a command key which contains software that essentially brings Jor-El to life for the purposes of instruction and guidance whenever his son needs him (prayer). Kal-El relies heavily upon the guidance of his real father in the film. In fact, it his through his communications with Jor-El (praying) that leads Kal-El to hone his skills by spending time alone, gaining strength through great trial in the wilderness (40 days in the desert).
When it’s time for Kal-El to have his biggest test against the forces of evil, he makes reference to being 33 years of age. He also visited with a Catholic priest to seek guidance when Zod threatened to exterminate all of mankind unless Kal-El was turned over to him. This was a clear reference to the Garden of Gethsemane found in Matthew 26. As is the case with Jesus in the Bible, Superman’s earthly father was older than his earthly mother and died before Kal-El’s final test on earth.
The primary villain in MOS is in many ways representative of those who seek to re-establish the Ottoman Empire on earth. As Zod himself admits in the film, he was born to be a soldier with the sole purpose of re-establishing Kripton on earth, which is analogous to the Ottomans. This meant the destruction of the human race and while on Zod’s ship, Superman sees the consequences of this plan when in a moment of virtual reality, Kal-El is standing on millions of human skulls and slowly begins to sink while among them. In Islam, skulls are very symbolic and this scene represented the moment when Superman realized just how evil his opponent was; it was a moment of intense realization for him.
Interestingly, in the film, an abandoned Kripton outpost from tens of thousands of years earlier was found on earth. Zod found this outpost to be instrumental in carrying out his plan. Again, think Ottoman revival.
Intense imagery that clearly drew from the attacks of 9/11/01 is also very prevalent in MOS. As Superman is forced to fight off Zod and his army, skyscrapers are made to fall and people are seen running from the debris and smoke. Of course, it was Jihadists who seek the return of the Ottoman Empire, who hit us on 9/11. In the film, it was Zod.
While Superman doesn’t die in the film – and is therefore not re-born – an extremely interesting dynamic takes place with his father from above earth. Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe, actually displays characteristics of each part of the Trinity. Consider these attributes:
- The Father – gave us the Son
- The Son – died for mankind only to rise again
- Holy Spirit – is ubiquitous but doesn’t appear in the flesh
In MOS, Jor-El possesses each one of these attributes. He is the father who gave earth his son; he died in defeating death and rose again via the software, and he represented the spirit in that he was not physically present in the showdown with Zod but he was present.
Here is the official trailer:
As an added bonus, the first indication that MOS is a film worth watching is the fact that CNN’s Chris Nashawaty gave it a “C” while giving “The Purge” – a despicable film about suspending all laws one day a year – a B-, not because it’s despicable but because Nashawaty says it didn’t go far enough.