Religion in comic books

supermanYou have to give makers of comic books credit. They have been able to effectively turn their craft into a big screen wonder lately. With hit after hit, Hollywood box offices are smiling. I haven't seen much buzz on the new Superman film, due to hit the screens just before the long Fourth of July weekend, other than it's supposed to be quite good, but this small item in Newsweek's excellent Beliefwatch section made me think that something's in the making:

Is the Man of Steel a man of faith? The upcoming "Superman" movie has sent fans picking over primary sources. Jews have often claimed the archetypal superhero as their own. Superman sprang from the imaginations of two Jewish cartoonists, and scholars have compared him to golem myth -- the supernatural creature who vanquishes the Jews' enemies (early on, Superman battled the Nazis directly). Most fans believe the man from Krypton is a Methodist, an opinion divined from Clark Kent's Midwestern upbringing. But there's another possibility. In the original 1978 movie and the new one, the superhero's father tells him: "They can be a great people ... They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason above all -- their capacity for good -- I've sent them you, my only son." Yes, Superman is a Christ figure.

Is the religiosity of a cartoon character going to become part of the culture wars? Of course not. It's just comic books and they're open to anyone's interpretation. But it's certainly fun to discuss.

The article includes a short snippet of an interview with the founder of Adherents.com, Preston Hunter, who has analyzed comic book characters and found religious denominations for several of them, including Daredevil's Elektra as Greek Orthodox. I say go figure on that one, I never saw the movie, but placing spiritual attachments in fantasy is nothing new to Christians, particularly the fans of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

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