Thursday, June 4, 2009


So a friend, and sort of a collaborator on this Superman project, sent me a link to this site, which delcares 10 Reasons why Superman is better than Jesus. That article links to another, in which a father recounts his daughter's reaction to Superman. According to the daughter, Superman is better than God.

It is perhaps the most interesting aspect of Superman, that he is simultaneously conscripted by Atheists and Christians as an important character, one which points toward all that is good and right about the respective belief system.

Here's another site: "S" for Superman or Savior?

I'll leave you to figure out the specifics of the religions of the two writers above. But in published books, the comparison works out more favorably. Take Greg Garret's Holy Superheroes. Or Steven Skelton's The Gospel According to the World's Greatest Superhero. On the other side of that issue John T. Galloway points out all of the ways in which Superman fails to live up to the ideals of Christ. There are others.

Perhaps the most interesting aspects of the on-line articles are the comments, in which things can get pretty heated. What we learn most of all is that people really think this through. And both sides conclude that Superman is or is not for them. (I think there may be a parallel to this article, in which Superman is cast as a liberal opposed to Batman's conservatism.)

I think the Superman as Christ thing really took off with the Richard Donner film in 78. He and the writers made the parallels (which weren't always in the comics) too obvious to miss--or to ignore. For my own part, I dislike the blatant mapping of one character onto another. But I still loved that movie.

This article shows a bit of how the plot of the Superman story fits in with Otto Rank's Myth of the Birth of the Hero. Rank's is a psychoanalytic sort of study, one which begins with the reduction of the story to a basic structure, but goes on to interpret it in interesting ways that the author of this article never really deals with in his brief analysis. Alan Dundes, freudian folklorist, edited a version of it a while back that is probably the most interesting one to examine.

Rank's study is an interesting one to combine with Lord Raglan's The Hero, which takes the hero's whole life instead of merely the first adventure. He, too, reduces it to a series of episodes and demonstrates that a great deal of heroes will experience many of the 22 episodes he chronicles. I think Oedipus scored the highest. Back to Dundes, I think he determined that Jesus scored 19 of 22. Pretty good score, though not quite up there with Oedipus, if I recall.

So, to sum up...Superman is Jesus to some people, and the anti-Christ to others?


  1. You know, this whole thing is interesting to me because the my-fantasy-character-is-just-like-Jesus mapping bit seems to have created some of the most enduring characters of the modern mythos (Aslan, Gandalf, Superman [the movie edit], The One). Okay, maybe Keanu Reeves isn't 'enduring', but still, you get my point. I've often wanted to know if "Lord of the Rings" is a popular book in predominantly Muslim countries (ditto "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"). Do we love them because the Western world is steeped in hundreds of years of Christianity? Or because they defeat all odds?

  2. Worthy questions. But it makes me wonder what the defining characteristic or action of Jesus is. Resurrection? How else does Gandalf act like Christ?