Hollywood makes a grab for the Christian dollar; compares Superman to Jesus

GO forth and tell thine flocks to pack cinemas for the latest Superman blockbuster, Man of Steel.

That’s the essence of an aggressive marketing campaign by Warner Bros to get faithful bums on seats for their newest offering.

According to this report, it has set up a special ministry resource site touting a nine-page pamphlet entitled Jesus – the Original Superhero, intended to help pastors base sermons in which parallels can be drawn between the fictional antics of Jesus and those of the Man from Krypton, played by the hunky Henry Cavill .


The movie studio even asked a theologian – Pepperdine University professor Craig Detweiler  – to provide the sermon notes for pastors. The notes pose the question:

How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?

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 writes in the sermon notes:

What Jesus and Superman both give us, through their `hero’ actions but also their `human’ actions – is hope.

But Seattle reviewer Paul Constant vehemently disagreed. Describing the latest Superman movie as “shitty”, he wrote (warning: with a spoiler):

Man of Steel is definitely not a Christian movie. The amount of death that happens off-screen – cleanly, without mention – is astronomical. You can’t make those sorts of visual cues to 9/11 and also suggest that everyone got out of those collapsing buildings alive. We know what happens when buildings fall down. The only individual human lives that Superman explicitly tries to save at the end of the film is the family that Zod is about to incinerate, right in front of him.

So the message to me is that collateral damage is fine, but when you’re faced with violence directly, you should employ any means necessary to stop the violence. That’s not a message that a Superman movie should be sending, and it’s definitely not a strong Christian message. It does very much remind me of the American response to the War on Terror, where we applaud surgical air strikes that are made far away from the personal level, but we get squeamish when we see photos of torture.

Death and destruction is fine as long as we don’t directly have to look at it. This is a sermon that a pastor would want to make?

P J Wenzel, a deacon and Sunday school teacher at Dublin Baptist Church in Ohio was also scornful:

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.

As they entertain their congregants with material pumped out from Hollywood’s sewers, lives are kept in bondage, and people’s souls are neglected.

Incidentally, a young Illinois pastor – Scott Bayles,  from the First Christian Church in Rosiclare – was way ahead Detweiler. In 2012, to mark the annual Superman Celebration in  Metropolis, Ill, he wrote a sermonJesus is My Superhero – in honour of the event.

Hat tip: Ivan

24 responses to “Hollywood makes a grab for the Christian dollar; compares Superman to Jesus”

  1. Buffy says:

    Much like Superman, Jesus is fictional.

  2. […] Continue reading here: Hollywood makes a grab for the Christian dollar; compares … […]

  3. AgentCormac says:

    Jesus was a black man,
    Jesus was Batman…!”

  4. The Woggler says:

    I often wonder, if God had already made Jesus, why did man feel the need to invent Superman? Why didn’t God abandon the Jesus Project and go straight for the far superior Kal-El?

    Oh, and the film’s OK but Henry Cavill is a bit useless. I quite agree with Paul Constant.

  5. Marky Mark says:

    politicians do it…why not Hollywood? Even the history channel runs shows about Jesus as if he is fact.
    I think they also did the special called “The Bible”, which I did not waste one moment watching.
    They also run shows about Bigfoot, spacemen…ect. Advertising dollars are their goal and not one specific belief I’m thinking.

  6. mikespeir says:

    I always thought it was Gilgamesh.

  7. Jedgardee says:

    You mock but it’s true, I’ve seen it in Viz…

  8. jay says:

    Homer Simpson demanded that Flanders pray to Superman in one episode. We’ve already gone there.

    I could see a big backlash to this crazy scheme.

  9. Broga says:

    As Jesus is a fictional character they can compare him to anyone they choose. What about James Bond? He goes up against the bad guys. The current ploy seems destined for serious ridicule.

  10. AgentCormac says:

    This bunch of crackpots are into what you might call pre-DC superheroes.

  11. Mr Cornelius says:

    As a confirmed member of the Reeve-ite sect, I denounce Henry Cavill as the Anti-Christopher!

  12. Supersneeze says:

    Anyone who describes man of steel as shitty is themselves severely lacking in mental faculty. I’m sick of these critics who seem to perennially identify Superman with the cornball (but charming) 1978 Reeve version. Yes people die, the fate of the world was at stake. Cynical marketing attempts to link Supes with Jesus notwithstanding. Though if I remember correctly the bible is chock full of murder, death, pestilence, massacres, vengeance etc.

  13. ZombieHunter says:

    When I was a wee lad in sunday school jesus was always marketed to me as being way cooler and more powerful than any superhero, now I’m older I know this is nonsense because jesus could never be cooler than batman and besides batman had the batmbolbile whereas jesus only ever had that crucifix and he had to literally carry it around.

    I loved man of steel though, it wasn’t perfect but I think Zack Snyder (director) is a fucking genious 😀

  14. AgentCormac says:

    OT but I have just watched a programme from the BBC called ‘Silence in the House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa’. If you ever wanted to know just how truly despicable, self-preserving and utterly uncaring the RCC really is, then follow the link below.

    This is an institution that doesn’t just think it is above the law, it knows it is. And has been using its power to enable priests to get away with the most heinous of crimes for centuries. One day it will fall. It has to.

  15. Robster says:

    Wow! If the baby jesus looked like the Super dude pictured, I’d consider signing up. Be a bit difficult nailing him to a stick though.

  16. Datagear says:

    Well, it looks like in the original version of the guy, before they came up with the “virgin-born, carpeter’s son” stuff, Jesus was some kind of celestial spirit that “fought in space” against demons.

    So it fits the bill quite well, doesn’t it?

    They had made-up superheroes all the time. We just don’t take them seriously anymore, until it’s Comicon.

  17. ZombieHunter says:


    if they had kryptonite nails that would do the job 😛

  18. Marky Mark says:

    A.C. said:
    (OT but I have just watched a programme from the BBC called ‘Silence in the House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa’. )
    …that program aired here in the USA months ago and is really explosive. They say it led to the Poop’s retirement since he failed to investigate that priest in Mexico due to the priest (or Cardinal…don’t remember)was very good at gathering donations…Greed again!

    Many other sick discoveries, like how the perverted priests preyed on deaf children. Unless one knew sign language the children’s complaints could not be heard. And back in the 60’s when this took place, not many outside the deaf schools knew sign language.
    To prey on disabled children like they did is truly despicable…and shows how ungodly and psychopathic these Catholics really are.

  19. AgentCormac says:

    Marky Mark

    Sadly, if the rcc was forced to show that programme in every catholic church in the world next Sunday I guarantee you that 95% of the congregations would be back for more the following week. As the point was made in the documentary, it is unthinkable to the ‘faithful’ that priests can do any wrong. And that is what the entire, stinking edifice of catholicism has been built upon from day one: lies, authoritarianism, an insatiable lust for power and a total, utter, absolute disregard for the wellbeing of the very people they are supposed to ‘serve’. It is a vile and abhorrent institution, one which offers succour to some of the most evil, predatory paedophiles on the planet. If only there were more politicians with the guts that Enda Kenny has shown – if there were then perhaps this loathsome bunch of shysters may very well find themselves disappearing down the plug hole of history very quickly indeed.

    We live in hope.

  20. CalebBoone says:

    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:

    Zarathustra derives from 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.

  21. Marky Mark says:

    (Sadly, if the rcc was forced to show that programme in every catholic church in the world next Sunday I guarantee you that 95% of the congregations would be back for more the following week. As the point was made in the documentary, it is unthinkable to the ‘faithful’ that priests can do any wrong.)
    …mostly because they themselves don’t want to admit that they are wrong.

  22. […] month we reported that the new Superman movie had been created with a grisly determination effort to put Christian […]