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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. faith

    lil fatty sambo for dog catcher!

    lol

    girls, ain't thammi dweet?

    June 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
  2. faith

    fsm for pres

    June 17, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • tony

      You're not married, are you?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Arnold

      I would much rather have Obama as Pres over the FSM.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  3. lol??

    Doesn't work when the Beasties con the women into suicide by talking them into cutting off their own heads.

    June 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  4. faith

    lol

    sorry girls

    horus don't cut it

    June 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  5. faith

    0 x 0 = atheism

    June 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • WASP

      magic tricks and scary stories = theisim.

      see we both can do it however i understand there isn't such a thing as magic, only illusion.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • tony

      How would you be able to post without science? "Prayer waves" perhaps?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  6. faith

    nozzing

    June 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
  7. AverageJoe76

    OMG!......... So what happens if Jesus/Superman was exposed to red kryptonite?...... or black, green, or argyle?

    Will Jesus/Superman get off his horse and share a poof of the doooobee?

    June 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • ME II

      Argyle Kryptonite, lol

      Does that make Superman hate the British?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Also, if Bizarro is the anti-christ... is Mr. Mxyzptlk Satan?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  8. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    You know, I think there might be something to this whole 'god' and 'jesus' thing... LET reads some of HS's cool bible quotes Nevermind...

    June 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Arnold

      What wrong with posting bible verses? This is the CNN belief blog isn’t it?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • tony

      Plagiarism?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • WASP

      @L.E.T.: just took a moment to ponder your name and realized it would be ignorance. XD
      seeing lucifer means "lightbearer, or enlighted one" that means your evil twin, jesus was about as bright as a rock. XD

      June 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • David

      I think he is making the point that posting a bible verse to another bible believer does no good because you both already believe, and posting it for the non-believer does nothing because they believe the book to be fiction, so you might as well quote something for Lord of the Rings which will delight fans but do nothing but annoy others who are actually trying to have a meaningful discussion about how humans can come together to solve our global problems collectively.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Arnold

      It cant be plagiarism b/c it is not copy written.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @David – cupid doll for you
      @WASP – The evil twin of Lucifer (Venus) would be Earth... not Hey-Zeus

      June 17, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • WASP

      @twin: i just learned something new, thanks. 🙂

      i always went off of greek/roman mythology for the planets, didn't know lucifer was a name for venus as well. XD

      June 17, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • OTOH

      WASP,

      Yeah, both Lucifer and Jesus (you know how chatty they were!) claimed to be the Morning Star (Venus).

      June 17, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • =

      Copyrighted, not copy written. But it was funny anyway.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Lucifer was the name of Venus long before humans invented the christian god. http://www.echoofeden.com/bias/lucifer/

      June 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
  9. tony

    Happiness is a full collection plate. Just ask any god.

    June 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • David

      Like any God has ever seen the money that's been collected in it's name...

      June 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • *

      Its, not it's.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Fun Fact

      The ONLY time that an apostrophe is used for "it's" is when you mean "it is".

      June 17, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • *

      or it has

      June 17, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
  10. faith

    0!

    June 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  11. WASP

    @HS: you love your bible so much follow what it tells you.

    1 TIMOTHY 2:11-15
    11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission.
    12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
    13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
    14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
    15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

    🙂 now remember your god commands it.

    June 17, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  12. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    ahhh... HS is posting her silly posts... her trailer park's power must have come back on...

    June 17, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Franklin

      How do you know she lives in a trailer park? And what’s wrong with that anyways?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      A year (2?) ago a hole had to be cut into her trailer and a forklift had to transfer her to the ambulance (flatbed truck). But she never stopped posting bible trivia!

      There is nothing wrong with living in a trailer... if that's your version of living the "American Dream." More power to ya'.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Arnold

      That's not very nice.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "That's mean" Well, it's Monday and HS is arguably one of the most offensive people on these hate blogs... and i'm feeling ornery...

      June 17, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Arnold

      I would much rather have someone post their beliefs than INSULT someone else.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      It's a hate blog... don't get your panties all in a twist...

      June 17, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • Arnold

      Not it isn’t. It’s a blog to discuss religion and atheism.

      June 17, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  13. AverageJoe76

    So would Bizzaro be the anti-christ? Is 'Jesus-kryptonite' the non-believer or just science? Or is it like how the Empress on 'The Neverending Story' needed a name to stop The Nothing....... so if no one believes, he'll POOF out of exsistence?

    Now I'm really reaching here......

    June 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Things that make you go hmmm... by christian logic: Bizzaro IS the anti-christ... mind slightly blown

      June 17, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • Moonchild

      Now that I have a name nothing will ever get me and I can live forever!

      June 17, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  14. HotAirAce

    HeavenStink, get back on your meds – you are speaking gibberish from a book of steaming sh!t. . .

    June 17, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  15. HeavenSent

    Proverbs 14:9 Fools make a mock at sin: but among the righteous [there is] favour.

    Hosea 14:9 Who [is] wise, and he shall understand these [things]? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD [are] right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

    John 3:31 that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

    Amen.

    June 17, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  16. Ken

    funny how unbelievers use the internet to bicker and boast about their "intellect" on a belief blog. I mean that's what it was invented for right? Mankind would have not survived with out the internet. /sarcasm off

    June 17, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  17. Knights Who Say...

    The Man from the Fridge (singing):
    The universe itself keeps expanding and expanding,
    In all of the directions it can whizz,
    As fast as it can go,
    At the speed of light, you know,
    Twelve million miles a minute,
    And that's the fastest speed there is,
    So, remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
    How amazing unlikely is your birth,
    And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
    'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

    June 17, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • lol??

      Who is the savior for the space cadets??
      Where is the center of the universe??

      June 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • Mrs. Brown

      "Oh, alright, you can 'ave me organs..."

      June 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Science

      Hey lol??...................it is way funny when my browser crashes and I have to recover script........for comments.

      everytime it crashes a PING goes to Microsoft. to help fix error !

      June 17, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  18. devin

    ss

    June 17, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  19. JR

    Your mother should have gone to PP, lol??.

    June 17, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  20. DaveSchell

    Eek. Not a word in this article from those who are dissenting for non-violent reasons.

    http://www.outofur.com/archives/2013/05/jesus_is_the_wo.html

    and

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-sandlin/superman-vs-jesus_b_3444361.html

    June 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Why does that surprises you. Both Superman and Jesus use violence.

      June 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • lol??

      God resurrects.

      June 17, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      So did Superman.
      He reversed time and brought Lois Lane back to life.

      June 17, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      lol?? and Richard C, can you provide evidence for your claims about resurrection?

      June 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • lol??

      Had to bring back more than just her to life with that caper.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Hot air
      See Superman, the 1978 version. Superman gets mad that he could not stop both missiles, flies around the earth so fast he reverses its direction, thereby bringing Lois Lane back to life.

      The evidence of course is fictional, as would it be for any gods.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Thanks Richard! Your explanation makes perfect sense. Eagerly waiting for lol??'s evidence. . .

      June 17, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • lol??

      Gravity outranks centrifugal force??

      June 17, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • David

      Well supposedly God stopped the earth from turning in the bible with no issues from centrifugal forces, so I guess Superman can do it without any problems either...

      June 17, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • lol??

      Now you know why the socie priests sacrificed virgins to the sun god in the new wurld. Gotta keep ol' sol coming up!!

      June 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • science

      hey lol??...............think of centrifugal force on or planet as being the magnetic core aye .

      June 17, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
    • lol??

      Oh, OK, science..............iron men and wooden ships.

      June 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
    • Science

      And lol??..........compasses DO NOT work around or when setting on top of stones ! (chondrites)

      June 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Still waiting for lol?? to back up his claim. . .

      June 17, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And still waiting. . .

      June 17, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
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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.