The Superman We Need

By Nicholas G. Hahn III

Hollywood's come to Jesus moment has finally arrived. Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, in theatres tomorrow, is more than just a movie about Superman. It is about us.

Smallville's Savior is there in his timeless splendor, but this time Snyder reveals him as made in the image of an all-too-familiar Savior moviegoers should be able to spot -- even without their 3-D glasses. The glasses come in handy for riveting action-packed battles and soaring red-caped flights. It's Man of Steel's theology that packs the true punch.

Take Clark Kent's visit to a Catholic Church, for example. Superman understands what he was sent to Earth for, but can he trust humans? His question to a priest is essentially: Do they deserve me? "Take a leap of faith," the small-town priest tells him.

Later, things hit home. During a battle with one of General Zod's deputies, Faora-Ul, she trash-talks the Last Son of Krypton and makes Nancy Pelosi proud by telling Superman that his conscience is keeping him down. She has an "evolutionary advantage" and "evolution always wins."

Faora-Ul's secularism is already winning in America. Nones are ascendant as pews are emptying. The Obama administration's contraception mandate is one of the most shameless attempts to replace Church with State. Kermit Gosnell's murder trial made what Blessed John Paul II called the "culture of death" seem prophetic. Man of Steel is the beginning of a culture shift America needs.

But Snyder doesn't want to admit it. "What's subversive about Superman," he told the New York Times, "is that it's not subversive." Americans, after all, might have some amnesia when it comes to the transcendent. Synder's Man of Steel reminds us that our Superman stood for "Truth, Justice, and the American Way." That's subversive nowadays.

Without being too plot specific, Snyder gives us a good look at it in an especially bold scene. Superman is seen talking with the ghost of his father, Jor-El, who tells him that he "can save them all." The Man of Steel then floats toward Earth as if he were being crucified! before turning to zoom after Lois Lane and others in distress.

The evil General Zod tells Superman that this is a mistake. Earth can be the new Krypton and the extermination of humans is for the "greater good of [his] people." Ends justify the means, after all.

Superman would have none of this. He cannot deny that he "exists 'with' others and 'for' others," as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church reads. His is the common good, "the good of all people and of the whole person."

Back in Metropolis, the city is nearly destroyed. A Chicagoan might squirm at these sights of the city under attack -- as producer Christopher Nolan surely selected The City That Works to be Man of Steel's Metropolis. A Chicago high on murders and taxes make us squirm just as well. Even so, Chicago has another motto: The City of I Will. Chicagoans and Metropolitans alike have the Will to rebuild, but they need a Superman.

Hoping for one like in Man of Steel should be a good start.

Nicholas G. Hahn III is the editor of RealClearReligion. Follow him on Twitter @NGHahn3.

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