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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. I'm sorry Dave, I can't let yu do that

    Who would win in a fight, Jesus or Bill Donahue?

    June 19, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tag teams are allowed aren't they?

      June 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let yu do that

      Jesus gets the Pope, Donahue gets the Ayatollah.

      June 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • sam stone

      I suspect that Bill Donahue wants the pope....bent over a couch

      June 19, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let yu do that

      Ideologically, Donahue's closer to the Ayatollah. In Donahue's perfect society, the Pope would be crucified for saying atheists can get into heaven.

      June 19, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  2. Jake S.

    I was surprised to see the fairly over the top Jesus imagery in a big Hollywood movie. As I read in a Jewish paper a couple years ago – all the major studio heads are Jewish. In fact, while I probably don't go two weeks without seeing a bar mitzvah on tv or in a movie, I don't think I've ever seen a first communion or confirmation – though there are probably 40-50 times as many people who will undergo a Confirmation than a bar mitzvah... the role of Jews in Hollywood is deemed too sensitive to discuss... unless it's a Jewish writer in a Jewish paper extolling Jewish "achievement."
    Seems like a controlled shop for me. Anyway, now it makes sense – just a marketing gimmick to the Real Almighty – the Dollar.

    June 19, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • Box

      Fish, and plankton. And sea greens, and protein from the sea. It's all here, ready. Fresh as harvest day. Fish and sea greens, plankton and protein from the sea. And then it stopped coming. And they came instead. So I store them here. I'm ready. And you're ready.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Len

      You're assuming that everyone is as interested in highlighting their faith as much as some Christians are.

      June 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Jake, they love to watch people who buy into they derived from apes make fools of themselves.

      June 19, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • midwest rail

      "...derived from apes..."
      Comedy gold, folks – ya can't make this stuff up.

      June 19, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • the real Tom

      HS has to be the best advertisement for a lack of belief ever.

      June 19, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • the real Tom

      HS has to be the best advertisemen t for a lack of belief ever.

      June 19, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • the real Tom

      HS has to be the best advertiseme n t for a lack of belief ever.

      June 19, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • the real Tom

      HS's posts do more to boost atheism than anything else on here.

      June 19, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Tom, like clockwork, you do your Ad nauseam routine on cue. LOL Keep them simple Tom.

      June 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  3. Peter Gomes

    "This gospel is offensive and always overturns the status quo. It's not good news for those who wish not to be disturbed, and today our churches resound with shrill speeches of fear and exclusivity or tepid retellings of a health-and-wealth gospel."

    June 19, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  4. Løki

    Do you remember, Odin, when in bygone days
    we mixed our blood together?
    You said you would never drink ale
    unless it were brought to both of us.

    June 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  5. Tesserarius

    The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. – Marcus Aurelius

    June 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  6. Penny

    Logan's Run is happening at CNN. Old people are being let go. Sorry, Wolf, that means you, too:

    http://www.wnd.com/2013/06/is-famous-face-disappearing-off-cnn/

    June 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      There goes the wisdom so that nonsense rules.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Box

      Fish, and plankton. And sea greens, and protein from the sea. It's all here, ready. Fresh as harvest day. Fish and sea greens, plankton and protein from the sea. And then it stopped coming. And they came instead. So I store them here. I'm ready. And you're ready.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  7. Løki

    A ship journeys from the east, Muspell's people are coming,
    over the waves, and Loki steers
    There are the monstrous brood with all the raveners,
    The brother of Byleist is in company with them.

    June 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  8. Science

    Hey creationists ..........fred and chadie too no horn-y red beast !

    New Research Backs Genetic 'Switches' in Human Evolution

    June 19, 2013 — A Cornell University study offers further proof that the divergence of humans from chimpanzees some 4 million to 6 million years ago was profoundly influenced by mutations to DNA sequences that play roles in turning genes on and off.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130619091319.htm

    June 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Science, let me know when you want to buy that bridge I want to sell you. You seem like someone I could sell that bridge to several times over.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Science

      TONS of native Iron..............for sale NOT

      June 19, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • Billy Goat's Gruff

      HS, . I would like thank you for helping create atheists.

      June 19, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Billy Goat's Gruff, excuses, excuses, topped with a big dose of d'nile that allows you to continue in your sinful nature. That's why the evolution myth was created.

      June 19, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      HS, Copying quotes out of context loses any meaning.

      June 19, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      HS, In addition to not understanding evolution, you do not understand the meaning of myth.

      June 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      In Santa we trust, you posted "HS, Copying quotes out of context loses any meaning."

      Answer: What quotes are you referring to?

      also.

      In Santa we trust, you posted"HS, In addition to not understanding evolution, you do not understand the meaning of myth."

      Answer: I understand evolution to be the ultimate excuse and lie that it is to ensure sinners can stay in denial while basking in their sinful carnal nature. Lie, myth, fable. see below for definition of fable.

      3454 // muyov // muthos // moo'-thos //

      perhaps from the same as 3453 (through the idea of tuition);
      TDNT – 4:762,610; n m

      AV – fable 5; 5

      1) a speech, word, saying
      2) a narrative, story
      2a) a true narrative
      2b) a fiction, a fable
      2b1) an invention, a falsehood

      June 19, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  9. I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

    In the beginning was the word and the word was "Aargh". – Piraticus, 13:7

    June 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Knights Who Say...

      NEE!

      June 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      All in Monty Python made millions off of Jesus.

      June 20, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  10. I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

    Captain Beefheart is Lord.

    June 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      He came to earth under the name Don Van Vliet

      June 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Actually he came to Earth under the name Don Glen Vliet. The Van was added in 1965, possibly while high on Pepsi, the Captain's only weakness.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      Like the man in the orthopedic stockings, i stand corrected

      June 19, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Ernest T Bass

      "I'm a little pimp with my hair gassed back..."

      June 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let yu do that

      "Pair a khacki pants with my shoes shined black"

      June 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • fintastic

      "twenty dollar bill gonna set you straight"

      June 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Jimmy Carl Black

      "meet me on the corner boy and don't be late"

      June 19, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let yu do that

      A big welcome to Jimmy Carl Black, the Indian of the group.

      June 19, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Jimmy Carl Black

      Concentration moon...........

      June 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Another fine captain!

      June 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  11. Paul

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Attis Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    June 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  12. Mohammad

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Allah Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    June 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  13. Lewis

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Horus Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    June 19, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  14. Loki

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Odin Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    June 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Løki

      What you say is true...

      June 19, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Liars backing up liars. Nothing new under the sun.

      June 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  15. Terry

    ♰ ♰ ♰ Mithra Is Lord ♰ ♰ ♰

    June 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      He's certainly a big inspiration to the Jesus myth.

      June 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • Nope.

      We went over this last week.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • .

      nope is a dope

      June 19, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Science

      Hey dot.................to many dots..................is one dot the size of your brain ?

      Captain ?

      June 19, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  16. PaulB

    This is ridiculous nonsense. We have Jesus – we don't need Superman, who is a phony. There is no proper comparison between Jesus & Superman. Jesus is the greatest SuperHero yes, but the gulf between Him & Superman is infinitely wide. Jesus brought us Eternal Life – Spiritual Life. Superman brings us nothing but shallow entertainment. The motion picture industry only wants our $ at the box office.

    June 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      PaulB, You have no evidence that god exists, that Jesus existed, or that Jesus was divine. The church industry only wants your $ in the collection box. You must know that churches are among the richest institutions on earth, right?

      June 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Jesus would get his ass handed to him on Krypton.

      June 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Tesserarius

      Jupiter and Mars are the only gods worthy of prayer

      June 19, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Have you seen the HBO drama Rome? In my opinion, it's a masterpiece and the most underrated show HBO has ever produced.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Tesserarius

      Rome was an oustanding show...

      June 19, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Dave

      @I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that,
      "Jesus would get his ass handed to him on Krypton."

      I thought Kryptonians didn't have super powers on Krypton with the red sun and all.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • JeffR

      It is a marketing ploy. And a stupid one at that. Which nobody in their right mind would seriously entertain. Or be silly enough to debate. So why are you, PaulB?

      June 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      It was. I watched both series recently and the mention of the two mack-daddies of the Roman Pantheon reminded me of it, as religion played an integral part in the show.

      13!!!!!!

      June 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • sam stone

      Wow, Paul, you sure present a powerful argument....for a lobotomy.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Dave

      He'd be crushed by the heavy atmosphere (OK, you called me on my minimal understanding of Krypton, although I believe I'm right in saying that a human wouldn't last two minutes on its environment).

      June 19, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  17. How FUN!

    Seems old Vic has been playing with the old computer and html coding, also. How FUN! How ANNOYING!

    June 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Vic

      June 19, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • the real Tom

      Vicky, is that a full-size drawing of your brain?

      June 19, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • FYI

      Vic is doing no such thing there are symbols associated with all fonts. If you go into a word program and select symbol you can see them. Most fonts have all these standard symbols. I doubt Vic is smart enough to use actual coding. Vic aka chad had to be taught on here how to get passed the filters, etc...

      June 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • iKnow

      FYI = The Real Tom. She'll probably go hide now.

      June 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • Dippy

      FYI, it's "past", not "passed". Learn English, it really is a good way to communicate.

      June 19, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • David

      "FYI, it's "past", not "passed". Learn English, it really is a good way to communicate."

      Some of the greatest minds in the world didn't know how to spell or use proper grammar, only a person with a low self-esteem would point it out to others.

      June 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • FYI

      "FYI = The Real Tom. She'll probably go hide now."

      Wrong

      June 19, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • iKnow

      Nice lie, "The Real Tom" or whoever you are now.

      June 19, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • UhOh

      "Nice lie, "The Real Tom" or whoever you are now."

      Look another xtian is lying. Too funny!

      June 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Dippy

      David, are you implying that FYI is one of the greatest minds in the world?

      June 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • iKnow

      Lets all accuse each other of lying!

      June 19, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • David

      "David, are you implying that FYI is one of the greatest minds in the world?"

      Do you have a reading problem?

      June 19, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
  18. Science

    Hey fred ..................where is fred ?

    June 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • Science

      Hey fred you the talking snake in the tree ?

      June 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  19. derp and lies

    Amazing how the table turns.

    Meow...play some more.

    June 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  20. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Well, I see the cowardly little shits aren't going to stop. What a bunch of christard pussies...

    June 19, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • ME II

      What's the point of this post? There is zero content; why bother?

      June 19, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Spinach 2:14-17
      There were trolls who walked the blogs in those days, and they were as doppelgangers to the worls of the web. They would steal the names of their enemies and try to convince those around them that they were real. And the trolls continued to try to insite wrath and discourse among the blog. there were many that could see the trolls for what they were, pitiful creatures born out of ignorance. They would join with the people who were led astray by false beliefs, who believed what ancient men created from the contents of their own heads, and believe it to be truth, but lie and say it is truth. And they were quite ammusing to many who knew the truth of not knowing the truth, that the truth could not be known to these men.

      And it has come to pass.

      Romaine

      June 19, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Revelation 20:10-15

      10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

      11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

      12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

      13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

      14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

      15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

      Amen.

      June 19, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Thanks HS for showing that it has come to pass.

      Romaine

      June 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • derpsshsheshedsheddsheddisheddinshedding oouour llilielies eelelselseelsewelsewhere ..

      A message for all my fellow Satan as-s wipes. That shade of brown looks good on us.

      Smell like hell and loving every bit of it.

      No more Christian bashing today.

      Let's go onto

      June 19, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • derpsshsheshedsheddsheddisheddinshedding oouour llilielies eelelselseelsewelsewhere ..

      A message for all my fellow Satan as-s wipes. That shade of brown looks good on us.

      Smell like hell and loving every bit of it.

      ShNo more Christian bashing today.

      Let's go ont

      June 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      Thank you for further proving the book of Spinach is the one true prophecy.

      And it has come to pass.

      Romaine

      June 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Lettuce Prey, that's what you get (lies) from unbelievers (ant-christs) sites. The book of Revelation (reveals His truth) of what happens to the last generation which began in 1948 when Israel got their land back. For Christians it's an exciting time to see His truth come to pass. For those on the wrong team, being lost means, you lose.

      June 19, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Which God?

      HS, there is no such as a devil , that is a christian made myth, just as your jeebus is a made up construct. Quoting from your book of baloney doesn't give it any authority. It is a made made book of fairery tales

      June 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      HS
      You mention only a self-fulfilled prophecy. Isreal would not have gotten the land if so many people had not believed they should. That is a self fulfilled prophecy.
      You on the other hand keep proving that the book of Spinach is prophecy being fulfilled as we speak.

      And it has come to pass.

      Romaine.

      June 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Which God?. you haven't a clue what you post, Christians didn't make up God.

      1 John 5:7

      For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

      Amen.

      June 19, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Lettuce Prey

      No HS you are right.. The christians didn't create god ( at least this one). The Jews did.

      June 19, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Which God?

      Wrong again, HS. You god like other gods before it, are man made constructs. I didn't =say christians made god, you said that. Your readinfd comprehesion is deplorabels as is your skills in logic. Get a clue. I can see why you are called a twisted biotch.

      June 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Lettuce Prey, you posted "HS, You mention only a self-fulfilled prophecy. Isreal would not have gotten the land if so many people had not believed they should. That is a self fulfilled prophecy. You on the other hand keep proving that the book of Spinach is prophecy being fulfilled as we speak. And it has come to pass. Romaine."

      Answer: Are you serious that you haven"t a clue how Israel got their land back? Your history books are more compromised than I thought.

      June 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Which God?, you are wrong but, what else is new?

      June 19, 2013 at 11:19 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.