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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. John 3:16

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEx9hQi-ARc&w=640&h=390]

    June 23, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • tallulah13

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ssoBUb2cJk&w=640&h=390]

      June 24, 2013 at 9:48 am |
  2. Sean

    At least the flying fictional character doesn't demand worship.

    June 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm |
  3. Nerobyrne

    You guys do realize that super heroes are all fictional, right? So, calling Jesus "The original Superhero" is calling him fictional.

    June 23, 2013 at 3:17 am |
    • Josh

      You do know that Jesus is fictional, right?

      June 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • jboom

      Plenty of scholars (Christian and non-Christian) would say you are wrong – that Jesus is indeed a historical person.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:30 am |
  4. Science

    Science works no god(s) needed

    New implant helps boy hear for first time

    By Caitlin Hagan and Jacque Wilson, CNN

    updated 11:41 AM EDT, Fri June 21, 2013

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/20/health/boy-hears-first-time/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

    June 22, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  5. Kooblah Khan

    Light: Christianity is as simple as accepting Christ, repenting of sin, and being baptized. Then moving at your own pace in the sanctification process. IE working out your own salvation. At least thats what the preachers in the USA teach. Been to more than a few services in my life.

    I dont doubt that kids as young as 5 or 6 can quote the Koran.

    There's very little else to do in the middle east besides hate Jews and Americans and read the Koran.

    Seeings as how they lop your head off if you do anything contrary to the Koran-they're probably terrified not to know all the rules to follow. See. differing cultures. Kids dont read the Bible and quote it here because they know they arent in danger of being killed for refusing to do so. They also cannot quote Twilight or Harry potter....but they can remember the plot and details of the sotry.

    Memorization doesnt equate to salvation.....it just means you've studied the source material quite a bit. I can recite passages from The Merchant of Venice and the Gettysburg address. It doesnt make me Lincoln or Shakespere.

    June 22, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • tony

      You got one thing right! SIMPLE!

      Far better to act simple, than use the brain you believe god gave you. The Parable of the Talents should have given you a clue as to how you should live your life by thinking and doing, not kneeling and just waiting

      June 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • Nerobyrne

      I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees, thank you very much.

      June 23, 2013 at 3:18 am |
    • Josh

      Clearly, you've never once been outside of the United States.

      June 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • sam stone

      sin is a man made concept, as are heaven, hell and god

      June 25, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Memorization doesnt equate to salvation.....it just means you've studied the source material quite a bit"

      Perhaps you can get that message to the jeebus svcking fvcks on these pages....

      austin, chard, gopher, vic.....

      June 25, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  6. faith

    TO KNOW HIM
    AND THE POWER OF HIS RESURRECTION
    AND THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS
    BEING MADE CONFORMABLE TO HIS DEATH

    June 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  7. faith

    no evidence to refute the new testament

    NONE

    June 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • tony

      Or if you open your eyes, lots.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  8. Caleb Boone

    Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

    Superman is not Jesus.

    Superman is not like Jesus and cannot be compared to Jesus.

    Superman does not have his origins in Christianity.

    Superman derives from the German Uber-Mensch or Zarathustra:

    http://philosophy.eserver.org/nietzsche-zarathustra.txt

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thus_Spoke_Zarathustra

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Also_sprach_Zarathustra_(Strauss)

    Zarathustra derives from Zoroaster:

    http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/658060/Zoroaster

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroaster

    Those who compare Superman to Jesus have either forgotten or have chosen to ignore the well-known historical, philosophical, literary and religious origins of Superman.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    June 22, 2013 at 6:57 am |
    • tony

      When it comes to comparing magic skills, Harry Potter beats both.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  9. LIGHT

    I will give you one challenge and a miracle at the same time.

    I can bring you thousands and millions of Muslims who can read the Quran from the first page to the last one without looking at the book.

    I can bring you children with 05 and 06 years who can read the Quran by the same way without a single mistake.

    I can bring you non Arabs of Muslims don't know the Arabic language can read all the Quran by the same way.

    now you are requested to bring us one Christian can read the bible without looking at the bible.

    If you can not bring one Christian can read just one page from your many bibles without looking at the book.

    Quran is only holy book on Earth now.

    June 22, 2013 at 6:37 am |
    • Colin

      Islam is the greatest hoax in the history of the world. The koran is demonic bull sh it.

      June 22, 2013 at 6:42 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things'

    June 22, 2013 at 6:25 am |
    • tony

      But not your posting.

      So is prayer the reason why the World has become such a violent, warring place in the last 2000 years, with tens of millions of awful deaths of civilians and innocents. Nice job!

      June 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  11. GOOD NEWS

    There is only one real GOD;

    HE absolutely exists, and powerfully reigns.

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES

    June 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Science

      Hey GOOD NEWS.................bite the bullet and take the test you might learn something.

      DNA tests reveal Prince William's Indian ancestry

      By Peter Wilkinson, CNN

      updated 12:48 PM EDT, Fri June 14, 2013

      http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/14/world/europe/britain-prince-william-india/?iref=obnetwork

      June 22, 2013 at 6:45 am |
  12. mzh

    It is He who created you
    1. from dust, then
    2. from a sperm-drop, then
    3. from a clinging clot; then He brings you out as
    4. a child; then [He develops you] that you reach your [time of]
    5. maturity, then [further] that you become
    6. Elders (old age).
    7. And among you is he who is taken in death before [that], so that you reach a specified term; and perhaps you will think. – 40:67

    June 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • mzh

      He created you from one soul. Then He made from it its mate, and He produced for you from the grazing livestock eight mates. He creates you in the wombs of your mothers, creation after creation, within three layers of protection (three shades/protections are as belly, womb and placenta where the baby is being grown). That is Allah, your Lord; to Him belongs dominion. There is no deity except Him, so how are you averted? – 39:6

      June 21, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
    • mzh

      SO WHICH ONE OF THE FAVORS OF YOUR LORD UPON YOU THAT YOU WANT TO DENY...

      June 21, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Balderdash.

      June 21, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Le Loup-Garou

      Dude, how can a non-existant being do any of that?

      June 21, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • LIGHT

      Le Loup-Garou
      Dude, from where came the first mass of the big bang?

      June 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      We don't know why there is something rather than nothing, but saying "we don't know" is a lot more honest and admirable than claiming a big invisible sky wizard did it with magic spells.

      June 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      LIGHT

      From Satan's rectum?

      June 21, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Supername

      God said before Jesus, what would happen to him.

      Mohammed said after, that nothing happened to Jesus.

      One of the two above, lied.

      June 21, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Le Loup-Garou

      Light dude, We don't know. Why do you think that means your goddidit?

      June 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Supername

      I believe God because he said what he did, and said it before anyone knew what he said. Mohammed arrived centuries after Jesus, and Mohammed made claims against both Gabreil and God.

      He lied.

      I believe God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and will believe them for as long as I have life, anywhere, any time.

      June 21, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • One one

      "SO WHICH ONE OF THE FAVORS OF YOUR LORD UPON YOU THAT YOU WANT TO DENY..."

      Mental illness

      June 21, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • LIGHT

      We don't know.....we don't think.......there is no......these are all what you have?

      But we know......God did it ........because by logic and brain everything must has a maker and one thing must be the maker for all.

      Allah said it in Quran 1400 years ago " Heavens and Earth were all one and we separated them"

      June 22, 2013 at 2:04 am |
    • LIGHT

      Supername

      Instead of attacking prophet Mohamed save your efforts to advise thousands and thousands of atheists had been converted from Christianity and thousands or millions on the way.

      Those atheists because they didn't find the truth in Christianity and they found every thing in the bible against logic and brain they converted to atheism .

      We as Muslims believe in bible and the Christ, but that bible you have now is not the real one, most of it are fake.

      June 22, 2013 at 2:31 am |
    • Supername

      For Mohammed to be right, all these have to have lied:

      – God
      – Gabriel
      – All the apostles
      – Jesus
      – All the followers filled with the Holy Spirit

      Gabriel is able to break Mohammed in half... with words.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:39 am |
    • Damocles

      Two believers going head to head. 'I'm right'... slap... 'nooo, I'm right'... double slap....

      Pass the popcorn.

      June 22, 2013 at 3:56 am |
  13. diarrhea faith

    splatter...

    drip...

    drop...

    watch your step...

    June 21, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  14. Michael Miller

    this is blasphemy of the WORST kind!!!!

    June 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Ted

      Thankfully I don't live under a theocracy so blasphemy is not a crime.

      June 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Alias

      Don't you think you should see the movie before judging it?

      June 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  15. faith

    the backfield and receiving core are next. athletes with speed, power, finesse, blocking and passing and catching ability are essential to building a winning football team.

    the inner confirmation of god through his son via the holy spirit serves as another crucial component in constructing the solid foundation of christian spirituality.

    June 21, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
    • faith

      The whole creation reveals the Word. In nature God shows His power; in incarnation His grace and truth. Scripture testifies of these, but Scripture is not the essential Word. The Scripture is truly apprehended and appropriated when in it and through it we see the living and present Christ It does not bind men to itself alone, but it points them to the Christ of whom it testifies. Christ is the authority. In the Scriptures He points us to Himself and demands our faith in Him. This faith once begotten, leads us to a new appropriation of Scripture, but also to a new criticism of Scripture. We find Christ more and more in Scripture, and yet we judge Scripture more and more by the standard which we find in Christ. -DORNER, Hist. Prot. Theology 1: 231-264.

      June 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • Candiano

      Your analogies are getting worse and worse. Give them up.

      June 21, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • mzh

      To Dear faith @ "Christ is the authority"

      And [make him Jesus] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], 'Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird BY PERMISSION OF ALLAH. And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – BY PERMISSION OF ALLAH. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. – 3:49

      June 21, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  16. I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

    I'm not usually one for plugging articles, but I've just read this one and it's really interesting.

    http://www.google.ie/url?q=http://www.newstatesman.com/religion/2013/06/inside-alpha-atheists-foray-christianity&sa=U&ei=b3nEUdzMOO3A7Ab__YCYBw&ved=0CDYQqQIoADAF&usg=AFQjCNHPqGz2J7lC065OKBV9XCL4LISfYg

    June 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
  17. faith

    the defensive line is the next most important component to a winning football team. you must be able to prevent the other team from scoring more than you do.

    we have the revelation of nature itself which declares not only that god exists, but that his glory is virtually immeasurable.

    June 21, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      The glory is immeasurable – because there is no evidence of a god.

      June 21, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • faith

      i disagree

      June 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      So post some evidence – not just quotes from the bible or vague football analogies.

      June 21, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  18. faith

    you build a football team starting with the offensive line. if you can't score, you can't win. find and place the best lineman on your offensive line.

    christianity is the revelation of god to mankind through the person of jesus christ. the new testament is the written revelation of his birth, his life, his death and resurrection. the foundation of our faith in him rests upon these facts.

    June 21, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • faith

      many if not most football fans disagree with this philosophy. they believe the fate of the team hinges on the quality of the quarterback and the receivers. others would say it is the running backs. some, the linebackers. or the pass rush from the defensive line.

      the point is simple. building on a solid foundation, whatever you are doing, is vital. grasping the full measure of christianity comes in part from recognizing the solid foundation upon which its built.

      the new testament has been tried and has proven true and completely dependable for more than 2,000 years. no one has successfully refuted it, ever, at all. that, my friends, is a pretty good foundation

      June 21, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Science

      It seems to be built on a what faith..................a bad BONE ?

      June 21, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Science

      Here is faithy deal.................se-x to create babies but can not talk about it unless the red horn-y devil/beast did it right

      faith ?

      June 21, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
  19. Ace

    Superman is an IDOL that GOD HATES. Jesus Christ needs no comparison or man made idea to illustrate Godliness or Holiness. This is a DECEPTION on a massive scale. This is preparing the masses for some alien deception. Think about it, its in a ton of popular media from THOR, DBZ GOKU, Diablo 3, Superman. All of them feature something FALLING to earth. Its the DEVIL in disguise. Jesus Christ was sent directly into the WOMB of a woman. The devil just like he fell from heaven is going to FALL to earth.

    June 21, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • SOS

      My IDOL is better than your IDOL - neener, neener, neener!

      June 21, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • james

      good application but that creature is already here and ruling;Rev.12:9,12; Luke 10:18; John14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor.4:4; Eph,2:2 and many other references. for more on what the Bible really teaches go to jw.org and learn at no charge and no obligation.

      June 21, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • SOS

      james,

      IOW, "My interpretation of the IDOL'S IDYLLS is better than yours – neener, neener, neener!"

      June 21, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • sam stone

      Speaking for god, are you, Ace?

      Can you be any more fvcking pompous?

      June 25, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  20. fake science

    Pro 17:8 A gift [is as] a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth.

    June 21, 2013 at 10:50 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.