I went to see "The Hobbit" with some of my family in IMAX 3D a little over a week ago. I really enjoyed it. It was a great movie and the IMAX 3D made it feel like you were right there in the movie. But what was really interesting to me was the movie trailer I saw for "The Man of Steel."
The name itself is great. He is a man who doesn't bend or break. His path is firm. His purpose unaltered despite what others might do to convince him otherwise.
If the storyline is as I think it might be from the trailer, and I'm hoping it is, we're finally moving past the older idea that everybody loves a hero. We saw this in "The Dark Knight," and now I'm hoping we'll see it again here with America's greatest superhero.
The reason why I'm excited about the world viewing Superman as a bad guy when he's really a good guy, in fact, their uber-good guy who is just trying to save them, is because, of course, Superman, since the original "Superman" movie with Christopher Reeve is meant to be a Christ-figure. That's why we get the voice of Jor-El speaking of Kal-El (I don't know if the El is supposed to refer to God or not, as I don't know that the creators really knew that El means God, but it would be interesting if that's why they changed Jor-L's original name to Jor-El), saying,
"Although you have been raised as a human, you are not one of them . . . They can be a great people, Kal-El, if they wish to be. They only lack the
light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for
good, I have sent them you... my only son."
Of course, this is a horrible Christology (i.e., you're not really human would be docetism) and a liberal/Gnostic/Pelagian soteriology (i.e., they're basically good and can do good but just need to be educated and shown the way); but my point is just to say that Superman functions here as a Christ-figure, accurately portrayed or not.
And this is why I'm excited about this new turn, because, despite the common myth in American folk religion that Christ is someone who everyone would love, Christ Himself not only says that the world, not just some Jewish religious leaders that crucified Him, hates Him and will call what He says and does, who He reveals Himself to be, wrong and evil, but the world will consider those who speak His words devils. He is a beloved hero to those who have come to know and understand the truth and absolute need for His Lordship. The rest of the world sees His Lordship as an imposition upon their self-ruled lives. To them, He's judgmental, restricting, and does not allow them to indulge in the self-determined lifestyle they wish. To them, the One true Hero of mankind is a villain.
And so this new theme, to me, is a welcome turn. It reflects reality much more than the cheering and adoration of the world for the hero in previous movies. Real heroes give themselves en toto. They don't care what you think about them. They're there to save your life, not make you like them as they let you perish. Only he who has his eyes opened to the true nature of the world and need for the hero adores him. The one who sees no need of a hero, who believes he has the ability to save himself, and rather sees the external hero as an enemy to his life and to the world, will only despise him. In the real world, then, the hero ends up in chains, beaten, and crucified. And he can endure this for the world because his purpose to save is firm and resolute, because he alone can endure such hatred for the sake of others, because he's a man of steel.