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. Phill

    Everybody knows that Jesus was Ironman

    June 15, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  2. fuhiq

    Look, up in the sky; its a bird, no its a plane....
    Hey, relax its only Jesus.

    June 15, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
  3. Terrible_Ted

    Iran must be destroyed!!

    June 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • no such thing

      they don't have gay people there.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  4. saywhat

    seriously.. we should be concerned with far more important things..

    June 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
  5. faith

    temper temper murdock. u brought this on urself. u've been told repeatedly u r whacked.

    got to grow up and start cing life as it is, not black and white borderline simplicity. god is loving and holy. that is y u r going to hell.

    June 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm |
    • faith

      ur going to hell. u r a liar.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • fatso sambo

      sorry u don't like hell. don't go there if it repulses u. and quit wining u wimp

      June 15, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
  6. faith

    nazi god hating fascists always 4get, they ain't gawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwd. all loving don't mean unjust. justice requites all loving to issue punishments and rewards. sorry DM Murdock. i would c about repenting b4 lung cancer casts u b4 ur just and loving judge

    June 15, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • fuhiq

      Yup, I love it. God loves us so much him and his followers have to be blooded before they can get into that make believe fantasy place.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  7. Alex

    Jesus had a better movie.

    June 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • fuhiq

      Yeah, but back then when they say that you were crucified by the critics, they meant it.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
  8. CStrater

    Are we seriously comparing Christ to Superman? No we are not. This is a bought and paid for publicity stunt. CNN, you suck.

    June 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Frank

      Hey, delusional paranoid guy, would you mind citing your source for this ridiculous accusation? And, after that, if you hate CNN so much, please, do all of us (including yourself) a favor and go find another source for your news.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • faith

      lol

      u bet. as soon as u share ur source for the n t being a comic strip. lol good luck lil fatty sambo rectum rump. don't 4get pounding with donkey's thang, u big angel

      Frank
      Hey, delusional paranoid guy, would you mind citing your source for this ridiculous accusation? And, after that, if you hate CNN so much, please, do all of us (including yourself) a favor and go find another source for your news.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • CStrater

      Frank – News? I don't come to CNN for News, I come here for a good laugh.

      June 15, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
  9. JimmyBob

    Good to know–i'm glad CNN reported this so that I can be sure to miss it.

    June 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  10. oneSTARman

    OH BOY! – If they think conflating Superman and JESUS is going to be a Turn-On for American Christians they must not have a even ONE on Staff.

    June 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • That's just crazy talk

      That approach won't go far with Christians, atheists, or even other faiths.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
  11. faith

    y would nazi god-hating fascists care? they killed al;l them jews and was cheerin

    June 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • John

      What an angry little zealot you are. And, but he way, most of the real Nazis of World War 2 Germany were Christians. Certainly most of its civilian population was, you know, the folks who let the Nazis get away with murdering millions of innocent Jewish people right under their noses.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • .

      national socialism became its own religion with hitler as it atheistic savior a true national socialist was never a true Christian

      June 15, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • fatso sambo

      hitler said god exists u fool. ur god said god exists. problem? u dumb doofus

      lol

      June 15, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • fatso sambo

      this b how dumb atheists b. hitler said he b a christian. atheists blieve him. hitler says there is a god. atheists say thar ain't no no god.

      June 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
  12. JJ

    And here I thought it was entertainment. Now it turns out it is religious propaganda. Into the round file it goes...

    June 15, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • Adam

      You sound dangerously like a godless fascists...oh wait, that makes sense. Again, now I see why you are so angry.

      Hey man, if it makes you feel any better....I'm praying for you.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  13. faith

    .
    Yeah, that is a bunch of garbage to try and cover up the fact that an all-loving being ordered the murder of women and children and babies who had no idea what the hell was going on. Nice try, but no cigar.
    If one takes the bible at literal face value, God murdered many people and repopulated the world via incest.

    temper temper dodo. where comes this holy anger? if all them butchered people was christian, u'd b rejoicing, bigot

    June 15, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • .

      try telling a human judge the death penalty is murder judgement is not murder it is the just sentence for the crime committed and since you know about Gods judgement it leaves you without excuse

      June 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Austin

      if you get gangrene what you gonna do?

      June 15, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • .

      If the pepple are killed without knowing what their crime is, it's MURDER, you imbecile. Are you going to honestly try and say that all of the children KNEW why they were dying? Stop trying to rationalize murder by calling it "judgement". It wasn't. It was a hissy fit by a spoiled deity who wanted to start all over again.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • .

      everyone knew what their crimes were there were no innocents

      June 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm |
    • .

      clearing up a misconception there is no mention of any children being born at that time and a credible case can be made for the fact that normal reproduction was suspended for some time before the execution of the righteous sentence was carried out a sentence which you appear to be aware of and as such are without excuse inyour own case

      June 15, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
    • faith

      names? u doofus. even the hairs on ur head b numbered

      June 15, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
  14. Hadenuffyet

    Leave 'em alone , they won't hurt you.

    June 15, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
  15. amy

    So f'ing gross. Why must everyone and everything pander to the freaking Christians???

    June 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • .

      God IS

      June 15, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
    • Adam

      We need a godless society where everyone is equal, right Amy? Yaaayyyy....oh wait, that's already happened before. Didn't work out so well.

      See you later.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Vic

      Christians founded all branches of science and civilization flourished consequently!

      June 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
    • amy

      The Dark Ages. Read a book sometime.

      June 15, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Sins of Pride and Lust Amy, read "Narcissism: Denial of the True Self " by Alexander Lowen (Author)

      Mask of Sanity by Hervey Cleckley is good too.

      Why you're at it, read Jesus Christ's book, The Holy Bible. His truth is complete.

      June 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
  16. faith

    the same things r going to happen very soon to all the animals, people and dodo, that happened in noah's day. some think they is god. not 4 long. lol

    June 15, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
  17. Adam

    I love owning atheists. It's so fun.

    June 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • map

      Despite what your bible says, slavery is illegal

      June 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Eve

      I like owning Adams. It's so fun.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Logic leads me to Atheism

      Ouuuuuch. Adam, I think Map just tucked you in and put you to bed. Now be quiet and go away

      June 15, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
  18. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things ,

    June 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • amy

      Really? Not for starving children.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • .

      God told you to feed the hungry it appears you are doing a lousy job of it then

      June 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Meh

      Don't bother replying to this loon. They will never respond. The facts are, brainwashing children at a young age into religion is very harmful and takes their personal choice from them, which is exactly what this mentally ill person wants. Sick people in this world. Sad.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:52 pm |
  19. infidel

    The Answers are found in Gods holy scripture......not a comic book...

    June 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
  20. .

    clearing up a misrepresentation, the judgement of God once handed down was instantaneous there was no slow torturous drownings the cataclysm was so severe and sudden that the shock alone would have destroyed all life immediately

    June 15, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • .

      Yeah, that is a bunch of garbage to try and cover up the fact that an all-loving being ordered the murder of women and children and babies who had no idea what the hell was going on. Nice try, but no cigar.
      If one takes the bible at literal face value, God murdered many people and repopulated the world via incest.

      June 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • .

      The righteous judgement of God is not murder but since you are aware that God does pass judgement you yourself are without excuse

      June 15, 2013 at 9:33 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.