home
RSS
June 14th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

Superman: Flying to a church near you

By Eric Marrapodi, Co-Editor CNN Belief Blog

Baltimore, Maryland (CNN) - As the new Superman movie takes flight this weekend, filmmakers are hoping the Man of Steel lands not only in theaters, but also in pulpits.

Warner Bros. Studios is aggressively marketing "Man of Steel" to Christian pastors, inviting them to early screenings, creating Father’s Day discussion guides and producing special film trailers that focus on the faith-friendly angles of the movie.

The movie studio even asked a theologian to provide sermon notes for pastors who want to preach about Superman on Sunday. Titled “Jesus: The Original Superhero,” the notes run nine pages.

“How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?” the sermon notes ask.

(Disclaimer: CNN, like Warner Bros., is owned by Time Warner.)

Similar campaigns to corral the country's large number of Christians into the movie theater have been used for "Les Miserables," "Soul Surfer" and "The Blind Side," all of which had at least some faith angle.

Baltimore pastor Quentin Scott is among dozens of ministers who received an e-mail invitation from Grace Hill Media, a Hollywood-based Christian marketing firm, to an early screening of “Man of Steel.”

“There was an actual push to say `We’re putting out something that speaks to your group,' ” said Scott, one of the pastors of Shiloh Christian Community Church in Baltimore.

At first, Scott said, he didn’t buy the religious pitch. Then he decided to attend a free midweek screening in Baltimore.

“When I sat and listened to the movie I actually saw it was the story of Christ, and the love of God was weaved into the story," said the pastor.

"It was something I was very excited about that with the consultation of our senior pastor, we could use in our congregation.”

CNN Entertainment: 'Man of Steel' director Zack Snyder on Superman's Christ-like parallels

Grace Hill’s sermon notes are specially designed for churches like Shiloh that integrate multimedia into their services.

“Let’s take a look at the trailer for `Man of Steel,’” the notes suggest after briefly introducing the movie’s history and themes.

The man behind the notes, Pepperdine University professor Craig Detweiler, has prepared similar material for films like 2009’s "The Blind Side" and "The Book of Eli" from 2010.

The spiritual themes in “Man of Steel” are abundant, Detweiler said, and his notes enable Christians to thoughtfully engage with pop culture instead of shunning it.

“All too often, religious communities have been defined by what they're against. With a movie like `Man of Steel,’ this is a chance to celebrate a movie that affirms faith, sacrifice and service,” Detweiler said.

It will be hard for even casual Christians to miss the messianic metaphors in "Man of Steel.”

The movie focuses on the origins of Superman, who was sent from the planet Krypton as an infant to save his species.

He is raised by surrogate parents who help him grapple with his special powers, even though they don’t fully understand the source of his extraordinary abilities.

When he turns 33, Superman must willingly sacrifice himself to save the human race.

Sound familiar?

If that’s not enough, as a boy Clark Kent is shown wrestling with his superpowers, and asks his earthly dad, Jonathan Kent, “Did God do this to me?”

“Somewhere out there you have another father and he sent you here for a reason,” says Jonathan Kent.

Even the visuals hammer home the messianic motifs.

During a fight with his archenemy, General Zod, Superman plunges down to Earth, his arms outstretched as if he were being crucified. Of course, he rises again.

Detweiler writes in the sermon notes, “What Jesus and Superman both give us, through their `hero’ actions but also their `human’ actions – is hope.”

“I think it’s a very good thing that Hollywood is paying attention to the Christian marketplace,” said Ted Baehr, who runs Movieguide, a website that reviews family friendly films from a Christian perspective.

“Where it gets sticky is when they try to manipulate the market and when Christians try to manipulate Hollywood. But here I think we have the right balance.”

But other Christians are heaving a supersized sigh at the movie marketing.

"Any pastor who thinks using `Man of Steel Ministry Resources' is a good Sunday morning strategy must have no concept of how high the stakes are, or very little confidence in the power of God’s word and God’s spirit," writes P.J. Wenzel, a deacon and Sunday School teacher at Dublin Baptist Church in Ohio.

"As they entertain their congregants with material pumped out from Hollywood’s sewers, lives are kept in bondage, and people’s souls are neglected," according to Wenzel, who said he was e-mailed information about the movie.

Scott, the Baltimore pastor, said he knows that Warner Bros. Studios has a financial incentive in pushing the film to pastors.

But he said that’s fine with him. “They’re using us but in fact we’re using them,” he said.

His church won't show clips from the movie this weekend because it had already planned out its service. But he plans to use them later, during meetings with the church’s men’s group.

“If you give me another opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus Christ, and I can do that because of your movie, that’s a win for me, because it is about spreading the Gospel.”

CNN's Erin McPike contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Entertainment • Media • Movies

soundoff (6,545 Responses)
  1. sparky

    I couldn't put my finger on why I didn't want to see this movie.

    Thanks, CNN.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      Fuax News is having a field day with it.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  2. kenman

    I knew as soon as I saw the headline that there would be an outpouring of hatred by the anti-Christian core of CNN readers and I'm never surprised by it at any mention of anything greater than themselves.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      You knew that as soon as you saw the headline, eh? Why, you must be psychic! That makes you WAY greater than me! I bow down in awe at your perception and insight, O great one. May I kiss the hem of your garment?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • tony

      Greater? Like terribly tragic "acts of god"?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • lol??

      plenty of insects head for light and zzzzzaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaappppppppppppppp

      bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

      June 15, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      "Anti-Christian"? You do know 2/3 of the world are not Christian right? Most of the world is anti-Christian, you are the minority.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Wow. You have a persecution complex, don't you kenman. You poor thing. Too bad no one taught you that disagreement is not persecution. Pretending that they are the same just makes you look like a big wimp.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  3. Bostontola

    New stories often use themes from popular stories that came before. There are biblical themes in many stories. The bible used many prior themes, the great flood, virgin birth, resurrection, etc.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • tony

      Funny how it missed out cell phones and modern languages. Seems like "god's plan" got frozen in the "bronze age".

      But then what sort of god has to wait a day for the fog to clear, and only can then kill an army by getting them to drown themselves.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  4. Lou

    Superman is way better then Zombie Jesus....

    June 15, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
  5. gijames1225

    Well, this at least piqued my interest in the movie. The sacrificial savior motif is a powerful one, and it would take a really good story or theme to convince me to go to a superhero movie.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • tony

      We've all probably seen ET. And the difference is?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • lol??

      carnal curiosity can kill copykitties.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  6. WOT

    We are living in the last days of man, expect anything from any where!

    June 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Yawn. People like you have been barking the same crap for the past 2000 years.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Jeebusss

      Yeah yeah......end of the world.......any minute now.........for 2000 years.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      Funny, Jesus preached the same thing, and we're still here.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • tony

      We are effectively slowly dying, from the day we are born. So your point is?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  7. Joan

    The story doesn't mention anything about the endless violence in the last half of the film. What part of that is Christian? That always seems to be overlooked in these discussions.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Jeebusss

      Are you kidding? The amount of killing and genocide God commits in the Bible puts any gore flick to shame.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Observer

      Joan,

      Haven't you read the Old Testament?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      Have you ever picked up a history book?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • lol??

      really?? maybe I'll have to cancel my discount on the bill.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Seriously? You're wondering what part of "endless violence" is NOT Christian? This from the cult of the Big Book o'Horrors, with endless misogyny, slavery, child räpe, and genocide either committed, commanded, or condoned by the Great Invisible Sadist in the Sky and his son, who came to Earth because merely DOING bad things in the Old Testament was enuf to get you personally smitten to death on the spot, but that wasn't terrible enuf, he had to bring you the prospect of being fried alive for eternity for merely THINKING things he didn't like, or failing to fawn all over him your every waking moment? THOSE Christian tenets?

      Or maybe you were thinking of the kind, benign perpetrators of the Crusades, the Inquisition, the witch hunts, the pogroms, the Holocaust, the Arawak Genocide, 3 centuries of black slavery? Or the propagation of AIDS in Africa and poverty and misery in South America because of the papal injunction against condoms? THOSE blessings upon humanity?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Austin

      thats not the message. the bible clearly portrays Jesus , not confronting the Romans, and telling us to turn the cheek. What part of human are you trying to inject into the real message? we allready know mankind is fallen, thus christians are still pretty helpless themselves manner wise. No surprise.

      Keep focusing on the message and the cross, and He is risen.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • Austin

      The Holy Spirit is a sanctifying spirit that bears the truth of God's word on a persons heart. now what part of sanctification has to do with other people. ? we all have our own self to manage.

      God is not blood thirsty.
      from the book of the prophet of God Most High, Peter
      2 Peter 3:9 ►
      The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  8. kal -el

    for those who claim there is no comparison tween superman and jesus need to do their research the superman character was based on jesus, outlined by the original creators

    June 15, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  9. Fred Evil

    LOL, from one myth to another!

    June 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • lol??

      quote some scriptures from the uncola myths.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  10. Larry B.

    But always remember, dear friends: Jesus Saves but Moses Invests.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  11. rabidatheist

    One is fiction, the other is CRUCI-FICTION.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
  12. Bostontola

    People are reacting to the marketing ploy of a big corporation. That's funny.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  13. Jesus Christ the Savior

    You have the 'S' on your vest, we have the "S"(Savior) in our hearts!

    🙂

    June 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • tony

      14 th century medical know-how is better than stone-age. . .a bit.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Yup, right behind the "B".

      June 15, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Leviticus 15:13:

      "And when he that hath an issue is cleansed of his issue; then he shall number to himself seven days for his cleansing, and wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in RUNNING WATER." 

      God said to wash the infected flesh in RUNNING WATER. Science didn't discover that until two men named Pasteur and Koch in the late 1800s. Doctors were washing their hands in a bowl of water and spreading the germs like wild fire. It wasn't until the invention of the microscope and the science of bacteriology that doctors started washing under RUNNING WATER. Leviticus was written around 1490 B.C. UNBELIEVERS WERE 3000 YEARS BEHIND! Isn't it embarrassing how unbelievers always lags about 2000 years behind the Bible.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Completely false. Society at large, NOT unbelievers, and that's only if one accepts your absurd premise.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Leviticus 17:11: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood." 

      That's the most accurate, scientific statement ever written about the blood! It is the blood that carries on all the life processes of the body. It is the blood that causes growth, builds new cells, grows bone and flesh, stores fat, makes hair and nails. It is the blood that feeds and supports all the organs of the body.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Thousands of years later the unbelievers claim, claim, claim God's truth, name it something else and call it their own. LOL

      June 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Society at large, H.S., not unbelievers, but feel free to perpetuate an absurd falsehood, it's what you're good at.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Austin

      And he was clothed with a robe dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

      7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel

      June 15, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Austin

      and this blood has been foreshadowed as prophetic. The blood that leads to the prophetic God.

      2 Peter 1:19 ►

      New International Version (©2011)
      We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Austin

      For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ

      June 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      midwest rail, not to worry, you mock our Lord who created all, then you steal His truth, rename it and claim it for yourself stating you got off your duff and did it. LOL

      June 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Pound sand, H.S., you're a two bit troll.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Observer

      HeavenSent,

      Leviticus also says (Lev. 20:9) "If there is anyone who curses his father or his mother, he shall surely be put to death”. So what was your point, if any?

      June 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Observer, if you respected and paid attention to your parents, you wouldn't be an arrogant putz today with the sins of lust and pride blinding you.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Observer

      HeavenSent,

      Stumped? Not at all unusual for you.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      midwest rail, you posted "Pound sand, H.S., you're a two bit troll."

      Answer: If you lived your life righteously, the truth wouldn't hurt.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Observer, I'm glad you noticed the delay. With that known, when I wrote I do my best, the other night, I was referring to typing with carpal tunnel.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Why doesn't your Jeebus fix that for ya, honey? After all, you're his head cheerleader!

      June 15, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
  14. Beleife_In_Christ_Amen

    NO!!!! HOW DARE you compare this stupid made up thing to the beautiful real Faith and Love that is Christ.

    This Superman is mean,kills,punches and has abilities that are un-natural for a human.It is all stupid fiction to distract you from the true beaity that is the LORD!

    June 15, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • tony

      You must be a truly blessed Tsunami or Tornado survivor

      June 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      Jesus just burns you for eternity if you don't accept him.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • Observer

      Beleife_In_Christ_Amen,

      Guess you missed the part in the Bible where God kills all but 8 people on the face of the earth.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Please tell us you didn't reproduce, "Beleife."

      June 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Observer

      What does "Beleife" mean in English?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      How DARE we? I dunno. Freedom of speech and a functioning brain, I guess.

      But you realize, in saying that they don't have much in common, YOU are doing a comparison of your own, right?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • JJ

      @rabidatheist
      Jesus does not burn anyone for eternity. People have a choice to make and it is a free choice (free will). You do not have to work for it. All you do is have to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord. People have it all wrong who think God is the one who is making this choice for everyone. It is a personal choice and the gift of God is free.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      @ JJ First, there is no such thing as free will in the bible. Read the Book of Isaiah, it's a long winded tirade by god taking credit for being the AUTHOR of everything, good, and evil. Second, it's not a choice, it's coercion. If I knew you didn't like peas, and I put a gun to your head, and told you to eat them, are you really "choosing" to eat them?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • jboom

      rabid,

      There has never been a time when the Christian Church did not believe God gave man free will.

      "... he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’ 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ 31He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this ..."

      And also consider Luke chapter 24. Old Testament scriptures were illumined to the Church by Christ.

      Interpretation of the bible with your technique will lead to a variety of conflicting doctrines.
      So if you do so, you must consider the manner in which its done in the ancient church.

      June 15, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  15. Jeebusss

    Jesus and Superman have a lot in common. To begin with neither one is real.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  16. tony

    Harry Potter – BAD!
    Superman – GOOD!

    Muscle magic beats school taught magic apparently, but the really good magic is the one they teach in church.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • Godric Gryifindoor

      Not all of Harry's magic is school taught.The reactions that is caused by the core's of his and Voldemorts wands is natural accuring magic,so is Harry's power of love and his mother's sacrifice.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • tony

      But was that part written bya non-witness, 200 years after his "life"?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
  17. Ze

    I must've missed the part where Jesus starts breaking the necks of his adversaries.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • rabidatheist

      No, he just tortures them for eternity.

      June 15, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  18. Surthurfurd

    Well both Jesus and Superman are Jews... Superman's birth name is Kal-El, There is even a blending of the Moses story and the diaspora story.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Deli Question of the Day: Is bag-el related to Superman?

      June 15, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  19. Lilith

    If Superman is like Jesus/God no one will see it but millions will imagine they can.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  20. Observer

    Superman fiction is more logical than Noah's ark.

    June 15, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.