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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. Will

    Wait, so Warner Bros. wants pastors to realize they can draw an analogy between an infant sent to earth to save mankind and Jesus Christ? Whoa.

    June 17, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  2. Josh

    I can only imagine what Jesus would think about churches in America today...

    June 17, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      That's true, you can only imagine

      June 17, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Science

      How true Bill............it is All imaginary between your ears !

      June 17, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • sam stone

      you can only imagine jesus

      June 17, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Science

      By the way bill do the chains have you shackled to the RCC and the use of RUBBERS ?

      June 17, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Wendy

      @Josh
      If the historical Jesus was real, then the poor guy would probably be mortified to learn that people actually worship him as God. Can you imagine the feelings of a devout Jew discovering that people are using him as an object of blasphemy? It's enough to make you feel sad for Jesus.

      June 17, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Science

      Hey Bill....................geology = hot springs !

      Evolution and billions of years.............no god(s) required or needed.

      From Hot Springs to HIV, Same Protein Complexes Are Hijacked to Promote Viruses

      June 10, 2013 — Biologists from Indiana University and Montana State University have discovered a striking connection between viruses such as HIV and Ebola and viruses that infect organisms called archaea that grow in volcanic hot springs. Despite the huge difference in environments and a 2 billion year evolutionary time span between archaea and humans, the viruses hijack the same set of proteins to break out of infected cells.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130610192614.htm

      June 17, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  3. WASP

    always knew there was a reason "superman" didn't sit well with me; it's a fracking revamp on the jesus story.
    i always prefered the more human heros, ironman, batman,nightwing, hell even greenlatern he's just a guy with a ring.

    June 17, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Science

      Morning WASP

      And the green stuff is good life..............expect for the man of steel.

      June 17, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Science

      WASP

      Like the tag says...............let the entertainment begin with education included.

      June 17, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  4. science

    Hey Austin another stone/rock................no divine creator needed.

    MESSENGER False Color Mercury Globe Spin

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmYK479EpQc&w=640&h=390]

    June 17, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  5. Miked

    May you be released from the demons of your own ignorance so that your own inner-light may shine the path before you. Your life has a good purpose for the benefit of your soul and the human spirit. Prayer to Jehovah can help you find the answers you've been looking for. Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus.

    June 17, 2013 at 7:35 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Hahahahahahahahaha...you poor deluded person. Fairy tales are for children...time to grow up, leave the dark ages and live in the real world.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      miked
      Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live...you are trying to practice your witchcraft.the bible says you should die because of it.

      June 17, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  6. Austin

    nothing wrong with FAITH, if she t's off then she was probably harassed first.

    Mathew 7
    I am a believer, Austin, and God commands us to love ALL, not just the ones we personally agree with. This includes atheists, Austin. This pick and choose att itude is not the baliwick of Christ's ministry. If you cannot love everyone, EVERYONE, you are not living as Jesus lived, and are disobeying God.
    Faith exhibits none of the attributes Jesus displayed, and if she truly wants to walk with Our Lord, she will spread His love, not repeat her hate.
    It is a trying thing to do, but if she is filled with the Light of the Holy Spirit, she can do this. As it is, she is making a mockery of His sacrifice, and is actually no better than the atheists she abhors. She acts in a hypocritical manner. It is painful to watch a supposed Child of God act so.

    June 17, 2013 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
    sam stone
    have another drink, austin....it probably helps with the dead cat hallucinations

    Sam, do you know what a hallucination is? define hallucination and then apply it to a specific part of my experience. (which was real)

    Sam its kind of annoying when someone goes around spreading rumors. I am talking about my personal experience. and you are lying about my experience. not cool.

    June 17, 2013 at 7:23 am |
    • Austin

      Matthew 7seems personal for you.............there is nothing wrong with anger

      June 17, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • sam stone

      faith is a diseased gash troll. you are a person who provides evidence for reverse evolution, as you had gone from a drunk to a true believer.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:26 am |
    • midwest rail

      " nothing wrong with FAITH, if she t's off then she was probably harassed first. "
      Nonsense. faith posts non sequiturs on a daily basis, attacking a poster who has never been seen here – she is obviously deluded.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • Austin

      sam, you said i hallucinated. now please tell me exactly what hallucination was.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • sam stone

      how am i lying about your experience? in order for it to be a lie, i would have to know that your experience is other than a hallucination. while we are at it, how can you tell the difference between your dreams and hallucinations? you claim to have files and files of this proof, but never supply any of it, only claim you have it

      June 17, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • Austin

      she is using her humor at times. stop distorting reality.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:29 am |
    • midwest rail

      You obviously have no idea what humor is – or, like the rest of your existence, you have a distorted view of it.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:31 am |
    • sam stone

      you call that humor, austin?

      why don't you submit your "proof" to critical review?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • Austin

      for one i have nothing personal to prove. why would i strive over papers when i know the holy spirit is the origin of this conversation.

      Sam, where is a specific hallucination? and yes i have the files. for every single part on the list.

      There were no hallucinations. my dreams were written down first, and then the other parts fell into place, i observed and took not.

      such as having a dream about walking though a house, going out back and there was an above ground pool, with a deck and a privacy fence. and then two days later this kid shows me a blue print of the same thing i dreamed about. ? where is the hallucination?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:34 am |
    • sam stone

      "for one i have nothing personal to prove."

      yet you are here every day, claiming you have proof.

      June 17, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • sam stone

      The hallucination is that anyone will believe you had these experiences if you don't provide proof

      June 17, 2013 at 7:45 am |
    • sam stone

      "i know the holy spirit is the origin of this conversation. "

      such is delusion

      June 17, 2013 at 7:52 am |
    • Peter

      Austin
      Where's your proof that you wrote these things down first? You're only asking people to take you at your word. Go, find some impartial people, or maybe a notery and have them authenticate your predictions first, and then have some people authenticate what you think happens afterward that fulfills these predictions and get back to us.

      If you can't do that, and all you have is your take on these dreams of yours, then be prepared to come up against a lot of skepticism. How else can you demonstrate to others that this isn't all just in your head, maybe just the forewarnings of some psychotic break from reality?

      June 17, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Damocles

      Have you ever said why you think your deity sees fit to send you dreams of houses, above ground pools and raw sewage?

      June 17, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Observer

      Austin,

      faith is so irrational that she constantly talks about God-hating Nazis. Since only believers can hate God, she is saying that many believers are Nazis - apparently not what she wants to convey.

      June 17, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • sam stone

      peter: forewarnings? i believe that austin has already had this psychotic break

      June 17, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • The real Tom

      It just cracks me up that Austintasia thinks that having a dream about a house with an ABOVE GROUND POOL and then seeing a blueprint for one is a sign from GAWD. What a goober. What does this supposed "vision" have to do with anything at all? I could have a dream about a plaid shirt and see one the next day–does that mean GAWD exists? Of course not.

      The bozo just doesn't get it-but Peter gets it. Maybe it will sink in after the 100,000th time for Austintasia. Unless you post descriptions of your RECENT dreams and let everyone read them BEFORE anything occurs in your waking life that might conceivably be related to them, why should anyone believe ANYTHING you claim?

      You're a delusional moron.

      June 17, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Mathew 7

      "Matthew 7seems personal for you………….there is nothing wrong with anger"

      Why are you projecting this onto me? She is clearly the one who is angry.

      When I start to see faith post love and devotion to Our Lord instead of lies, slander, and insults, I will start to believe you, Austin.
      This is NOT the way Jesus wanted His ministry spread.

      Good day.

      June 17, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • sam stone

      "When I start to see faith post love and devotion to Our Lord instead of lies, slander, and insults...."

      good luck with that

      June 17, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  7. Heaven Sent

    I have no life. That is why I sit here and post bible quotes all day. Just to get the rabble all roused and upset. Fun Times!

    June 17, 2013 at 6:54 am |
    • Heaven Sent

      I sit here thinking carnal thoughts, burning out my Jeebus marital aid

      June 17, 2013 at 6:58 am |
    • Austin

      oneplace.com

      June 17, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Austin

      audio archives

      June 17, 2013 at 7:13 am |
    • Science

      Hey HS

      The Ozi deal..................do you have one or is it injured already ?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:28 am |
    • HeavenScent

      I have a jeebus weiner!

      June 17, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Science

      Does a rubber work with IT HS ?

      June 17, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • Science

      Or do you just spread sh-it around like you always do ?

      June 17, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Phony heaven space sent. I'm not playing the part of Lot's wife for no man (meaning women too). You own your own sins.

      Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.

      Amen.

      June 17, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
  8. Heaven Sent

    I will quote the bible all day because I am right. You all will go to hell. Because I know God personally and he told me that no one gets into heaven without MY APPROVAL! You hear that? You need my Approval to get into Heaven because God has told me so.

    June 17, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • Heaven Sent

      I am Heaven Sent and I approve this message.

      June 17, 2013 at 6:48 am |
    • Science

      Hey HS ..............................did the red horn-y beast really jerk your chain this morning and tell you to get up and quote that

      nasty sh-it all day ?

      June 17, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • Heaven Sent

      My friend Austin has cat dreams that prove that the god of the babble exists

      June 17, 2013 at 6:59 am |
    • Science

      OK HS you are getting warm...............the babble...............did the devil make you do that ?

      Are they black kitties and do you walk under ladders HS ?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:10 am |
    • Science

      HEY HS what about 13.....................is this year driving you nuts ?

      June 17, 2013 at 7:35 am |
  9. Heaven Sent

    I am right, all you people are wrong.

    June 17, 2013 at 6:46 am |
    • Heaven Scent

      I forgot to take my pills this morning

      June 17, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  10. Colin

    You said " 1 – A Divine God who had no beginning, and who has existed forever, and is maker of all things visible and invisible. Who comes to his creation by becoming incarnate as a man (Jesus Christ). "

    This requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,700,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,700,000,000 years for h.o.mo sapiens to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life (when, at H.omo Erectus, Ho.mo Habilis, Neanderthal man?) and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it

    "2 – all of life, the human mind, love, beauty, art, appreciation for art & music, moral codes, the ability to do good, the abiilty to do bad, etc, etc, can come into existence from a single cell thru the mindless process of mutating genes propogated thru survival of the fittest and that the explanation of the single cell origin will be completed by evolutionists in the future."

    Yes, exactly. Just becuase science is difficult to comprehend, that does not make it untrue. More to the point, this is what the evidence tells us.

    June 17, 2013 at 6:42 am |
  11. Science

    No divine creator needed chad/jboom..............and creationists...........the x-rays bellow work better than the Man of Steels

    X- ray vision ?................Clue jboom there is a tag that says entertainment assigned to story.

    Mystery of X-Ray Light from Black Holes Solved

    June 14, 2013 — It is a mystery that has stymied astrophysicists for decades: how do black holes produce so many high-power X-rays?

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130614140504.htm

    June 17, 2013 at 6:32 am |
  12. saggyroy

    They have ruined Superman for me.

    June 17, 2013 at 6:00 am |
  13. Kevin Jackson

    Well it is a fantasy fiction character so the tie in is pretty obvious. Superman comics are also the only proof. Sounds like direct correlation "evidence"

    June 17, 2013 at 5:22 am |
    • saggyroy

      2000 years from now, who will know the difference?

      June 17, 2013 at 6:01 am |
  14. AtheistSteve

    Oh look... faith is doing the equivalent of a drive-by shooting.

    June 17, 2013 at 4:46 am |
  15. faith

    our sympathies

    June 17, 2013 at 4:40 am |
  16. faith

    all is is nonsense

    June 17, 2013 at 4:39 am |
  17. faith

    angry hornets don't change a thing. n. t. is true

    June 17, 2013 at 4:38 am |
  18. faith

    he says love sin and go to hell

    June 17, 2013 at 4:37 am |
  19. faith

    many love sin

    June 17, 2013 at 4:36 am |
  20. faith

    how bout that. nothing like him. many hate him. he exposes their sins

    June 17, 2013 at 4:35 am |
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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.