Is the “Man of Steel” a Christian allegory?

I finally got around to watching the 2013 film Man of Steel, which is yet another remake of Superman. In this particular movie, however, it starts with us first seeing the creation of Clark Kent – his birth on the planet Krypton. Shortly after his birth, the planet is destroyed. Clark’s real parents locate a planet to send him to – an escape plan that would allow their race of people to survive Krypton’s destruction. When others on Krypton, particularly General Zod, find out about this, they try to stop the escape. They want to fight for Krypton and no new citizens had been born in Krypton for hundreds of years. Apparently their race never ages.

A new citizen is born: a chance for this race of people to continue anew.
A new citizen is born: a chance for this race of people to continue anew.

While I was watching this film, there seemed to be many similarities to the story of Christ. Think about it for a moment. Krypton was an experiment that failed. It is stressed in the film, particularly by Jor-El (Clark’s father, played by the actor Russell Krowe), that perhaps the people of Earth can be more successful caretakers of their planet. Krypton was given a chance and failed. Wars and environmental disasters ultimately plagued Krypton. Despite all that was given to them, they destroyed themselves. Jor-El hatched a new plan though: he had a son who might be able to be some sort of savior to their race and be a bridge to those on the planet Earth.

Continuing with the idea this might be a Christian allegory: A young couple on Earth who did not have children of their own find Clark in a field on their farm (in Kansas of all places). They are in a sense chosen to raise Clark. They are his earthly parents (much like Mary and Joseph) but his real father is not of this world.

Clark's earth father gives him advice on how to cope  with his superhuman powers.
Clark’s earth father gives him advice on how to cope with his superhuman powers.

Very soon in Clark’s childhood, his earthly parents realize he is not like other children. While he has the appearances of being fully human, he is really something else – he’s of another world. His earth father, Jonathan Kent (played by the actor Kevin Costner), teaches the young Clark that he must not use or reveal the superhuman powers he has. The world isn’t ready for it. Perhaps there might be a time for the world to learn or need these powers, but until that time is absolutely necessary, he tells Clark not to reveal or even use his powers. He also reminds Clark that his real father must have sent him to earth for some purpose, that may someday be revealed.

Clark sometimes can’t help himself. As a child, he saves some of his peers during a bus accident. But, later, he does not save his own father – for it would have revealed his superhuman powers publicly to too many people. He has learned to hold back, despite the good those powers might have done.

In his early adulthood, Clark is discovering his purpose.
In his early adulthood, Clark is discovering his purpose.

The plot advances and we find Clark later in life – his father has passed away, yet he is out on his own finding his purpose and discovering his origins. He’s on a fishing boat and he performs another act – rescuing a team of men on an oil rig out in the ocean. It’s nothing short of, shall we say, a miracle? Due to these acts – he is discovered by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Lois Lane. She sees him as no one else has. He also tells her to keep this a secret because the world is not ready for it. She soon learns that he is right and she closes down releasing his story publicly. She seems to be the first follower – or disciple – of Clark. And she protects him.

However, while Krypton was destroyed earlier in the film, not everyone there was: General Zod has been on the hunt for Clark. He finally tracks him down on earth. By the end of the film, I have come to view General Zod as Satan. He is a fallen angel and he is still upset that Jor-El had created a new citizen in Clark Kent. Satan and the fallen angels had been angry at God for the creation of human beings. General Zod now has as his mission to destroy all of the people of the human race. But to help the people of the human race be spared, Clark offers himself up as a sacrifice. Much like Christ did.

General Zod continues to hunt down Clark and wants to end the human race and extend his own kingdom on earth.
General Zod continues to hunt down Clark and wants to end the human race and extend his own kingdom on earth.

When Clark was revealed to the world, we also learn his age: he is thirty-three years old. This is the same age Christ was when he was revealed to the world and when he was crucified on the cross. At this point in the film, I feel like maybe this suspicion I had that this film was a Christian allegory might indeed be right. Clark goes on to save planet Earth – to give these humans a chance to be better stewards of our planet than the previous race was of Krypton. I also have just looked up and saw that the film director’s wife talks about the film’s Christian themes in this interview with the Christian Post.

I’ll let you judge the rest of the film for yourself, but keep in mind some of these themes as you watch it. Man of Steel might indeed be borrowing from the greatest story ever told. Perhaps it’s also why the story of Superman has been told and retold for nearly a century.


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1 Comment

  1. You know, I’ve ALWAYS thought of Superman (and indeed, many hero epics) in terms of the Christ story. It’s the very definition of The Hero’s Quest. I think you pulled out some really good points here. I also always smile when it comes to Superman because his origins are a wee bit Moses-like, right? Only instead of a reed basket it was more space-shippy, hehe.

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