A couple of days ago, my wife gave me Superman Returns as a Christmas gift. This is of course the newest of the Superman films to hit the big screen. I saw it in the theatres right before I left for a mission trip to West Africa. After watching again, I was reminded of the striking parallels between this films take on Superman and the real story of Jesus.
Since I was little, I have always loved Superman. He is the embodiment of the mythic hero – “a stranger from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.” Superman always does what is right, defending the security of an entire planet as well as helping a small girl. And, or course, he never lies.
Superman Returns brought this incredible hero back to the big screen, much to the delight of Superman fans everywhere. In the film, Superman returns from a five year journey in space to find his that true love, Lois Lane, has written a Pulitzer PRize-winning article called, “Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman.” When he asks her about why she wrote it, she says, “The world doesn’t need a savior.” Ironically, by the film’s end, she in fact does need to be saved from danger and Superman is there to fulfill that need. He goes so far as to almost sacrifice himself in order to save the world from evil designs of his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor. Having been stabbed and poisoned by kryptonite radiation, Superman falls to earth, with arms out-stretched and legs together, as if nailed to an invisible cross.
As I watched, I couldn’t help but see the parallel between the Man of Steel and the Man of Sorrows, Jesus Christ. Though Christ came as a stranger to this world and sacrificed his life, people today still say – “We don’t need a savior.” And yet, as Superman says in the film, “You say people do not need a savior, but I hear them crying out for one everyday.” The truth is, humanity does want a Savior, they just don’t want Jesus Christ. And yet, he is the one they need. He is the only one that can save them from their most dire need – judgment for their sins. Christ didn’t just come close to death, he died for the sins of his people. But through the power of God, he was raised back to life. And all who come to him in faith find forgiveness and life. It seems the true embodiment of the mythic hero isn’t a myth at all. He is a God in the flesh; the Savior of the world. Not a man of steel, but a man of sorrows, who died – not just to rescue people from harm – but to bear the wrath of God against their sins. As cool as the Man of Steel is, Lois Lane was right: the world doesn’t need a Superman. They need Jesus Christ.
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:11-12 ESV