The Passion of Kal-El (“Man of Steel”)

Fun Fact 1: Superman, who in the course of his 75-year career, has often been compared to Jesus, was created by two Jewish guys.

Fun Fact 2: The new movie Man of Steel has so much religious imagery you half expect the ushers to take up a collection like they do for the Will Rogers Institute.

Don’t believe me?

We meet Kal at the very start of the movie, the first natural birth on Krypton in centuries. (Since it is not clear whether or not the Kryptonians have also given up natural conception, the may be a “virgin birth.”) He narrowly escapes destruction by General Zod, the head of Krypton’s defense forces, just as Jesus narrowly escapes death at the hands or Herod’s soldiers. His father, Jor-El, sends his only son to Earth to live among the people and become a teacher and example for them. Just like…

Upon arrival on Earth, Kal is adopted by the Kents, a childless couple who are rewarded with a child from the heaves like other similar couples in the Old Testament, a reward for their honesty and purity. As his powers develop and he wonders why he is so “different,” his adoptive father has the conversation with him that Joseph no doubt had with his “son” and eventually Kal (renamed (Clark) eventually leaves him and wanders the world, searching for his life’s purpose, performing acts that are uniformly described as “miraculous” along the way. Finally, at the age of 33, he begins his life’s work after encountering an interactive recording biological father, thus completing the Kryptonian Trinity: Jor the father, Kal the son and the Hologram Ghost.

But Kal is being pursued by Zod and his minions, sort of fallen angels, who torture him (he’s rendered powerless, Jor-El tells him before helping him escape, so he can feel human pain. It is a sort of resurrection, leading to the eventual showdown between Kal-El and Zod.

Lest you think your friend and humble narrator has finally gone completely off the rails, I didn’t write this stuff. The screenplay, by David Goyer and Christopher Nolan (who also wrote the screenplays for the Dark Knight Trilogy) also tackles questions of nature vs. nurture and predestination vs. free will. Just as they wished to make a Masked Manhunter for the “real world,” they sought to make a Man of Tomorrow for a world where not everybody found the idea of a flying alien who’s more powerful than a locomotive, etc., such a good thing. (The main difference, it seems, between Marvel movies and DC movies is the Marvelverse is always bright and we never forget it’s a comic book. In the DC Universe, every day is overcast and everything is “gritty.”)

With three-quarters of a century of backstory (and retcons) to draw from, the screenwriters seem to have samples everything from the Superman oeuvre, finally explaining some things (how/why Lois Lane is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter) but leaving some of the same questions unanswered. (Zod is the leader of Krypton’s military forces… so who/what do they need defending from?)

But the bottom line is: Should you spend your paper (or plastic) and time on the Man of Steel?

Yes. It’s not your father’s Superman—or your grandfather’s or (if he was around in 1939) you great-grandfather’s. Or yours. But he is a Superman for the 21st century. The movie isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad.

You need to be a member of Blacksciencefictionsociety to add comments!

Join Blacksciencefictionsociety

Email me when people reply –