For as long as I can remember, I have been a devoted fan of the Man of Steel. As a kid, I idolized the last son of krypton, and wanted to be just like Clark Kent. Heck, I wanted to be Superman. I collected comic books, watched the movies and had more than my fair share of memorabilia. Ask any of my old friends from elementary or junior high school, I was a Superman nerd.
I was just a young lad when we went to that laser light show. But when I saw that laser illuminated version of Superman fly across the theater room, the John Williams score echoing off the walls, I knew I was hooked. I would run around the house with a towel around my neck pretending to fly. Even ended up in the ER once, when I jumped off a chair, while still holding scissors. Oops! I remember how excited I was when I finally got my first superman t-shirt. I think I literally wore it out. Anytime the old Christopher Reeve movies came on, you bet I was glued to my seat in front of the tv. I had superman comic books displayed on my walls, with more than one comic book autographed. Superman posters and action figures were displayed around my bed, and when Christopher Reeve passed away, I was in tears. I was an active viewer of Smallville, and watched Superman Returns at least six times in theaters. I even had all three of the special collectable movie figures. So much investment for a fictional hero.
When I was alone on the road, and going through my divorce depression, I ended up turning to old memories of Superman, and the original theme by John Williams to cheer me up. I played that piece of music in my truck and upon hearing the rising score building up in excitement, I broke down into tears. As the music played on, I imagined an old friend had returned and I could almost hear this fictional superhero say to me: hello old friend. I answered back into the cab of the truck, Hello Clark. And the tears flowed.
I’ve never tried to take Superman and turn him into something he’s not. Never have I tried to worship him or put him in the rightful place that belongs to Christ, but nevertheless in my moment of heartache and depression, I turned to Kal-El, and not Christ. This was a mistake, and one that I did not realize until this evening. With that being said, now might be a good time to go over a few of the parallels that Superman shares with the Son of Man. There are so many similarities, it’s easy to see why so many people look up to him. But while he may share some traits with God, he is still fictional, and not a replacement for that which is eternal.
I first started noticing the similarities between Superman and Jesus in high school. I was very surprised when I found out that El, as in the Kryptonian House of El, actually means God in Hebrew. So while Jor-El is the father, Kal-El is the son. Get it, the father and the son? Two parts of the Holy trinity. The other big in your face moment of Christ like symbolism, is from Jor-El, specifically the version as played by Marlon Brando. In the original 1978 film, the disembodied figure of Jor-El instructs a young Kal-El on the wonders of the Universe. Jor-El says, when explaining why Kal-El was sent to earth: “They can be a great people, Kal-El, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you… my only son.”
Another parallel between Christ and Clark can be also be seen in the icy Fortress of Solitude. Before Superman was ready to take on his mission, he first had to train and learn and undergo trials, set out by his father. He had to follow his father’s will and be obedient to what was asked of him. The same can be said of Christ. Jesus had to go into the Judean desert for 40 days before beginning his ministry. While in the desert he fasts and prays, and must deal with the temptations of the evil one. And while Lex Luthor is no Satan, Superman must also overcome the temptations and challenges that this deranged genius throws at him. And like Christ, Superman has also died. Sacrificing himself against doomsday so that others would live, only to rise from the dead once more.
The biggest difference however between Superman and the Son of Man, is the most obvious. It is also the most important, especially when it comes to salvation. Superman isn’t real. There is nothing in those old comic books and movies that will help me live a life eternal. The only way to the Father is through Christ. In John 14:6 Jesus says “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” No amount of fancy flying will save me. No caped hero will rescue me when I fall. However, Christ will.
I sat on the bed this evening, after watching the new Wonder Woman movie. Was it an enjoyable film? Yes. Did it fill my soul with meaning? No. It was purely escapism and when compared to the church, and all the sacrifices given to us by her saints, it left me feeling empty. I picked up a pile of clothes and noticed my newest Superman shirt sitting on top. I didn’t see a Superhero logo, or a symbol of hope this time. I only saw a corporate logo, with no long lasting meanings behind it. It left me feeling empty, and made me wonder… if it has no purpose in bettering ones life, then what good will it do in the end? Saint Gregory the Theologian said (when discussing the life of his mother, Saint Nonna) “Nothing unholy is fitting for the Holy.” This lead me to remember the words that Jesus said in Mark 6:24: “No one can serve two masters.” Can I realistically engage with these modern day false idols, and shallow corporate entertainment that only provides escapism with little to no long lasting meaning for humanity, and love and serve God to the fullest extent possible? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. You can’t serve two masters. We can choose how we spend our time, and how we feed our soul. We can choose what our minds digest. We can choose to either live in the world and of the world, or learn to distance ourselves from it, (from time to time) in order to gain entrance into the next.
I think it’s time to cancel HBO Max. Maybe Hulu as well. Perhaps it’s time my family learned to live without so many electronic distractions, and all of the frivolous media it pushes. There’s nothing wrong with saying, today we are going to put the Nintendo away and instead learn about the Desert Fathers. Nothing wrong with putting down the comic book, and picking up a prayer book. And sometimes, you just need to put down the Superman shield, and pick up the cross. Maybe a little less Clark, and a little more Christ.
Thanks for reading my friends. I hope you all are having a wonderful start to 2021. Let me know what you think about today’s post. May you all have a safe, healthy, and joyful new year, and God Bless.
– Orthodox Trucker