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How Superman Became a Christ-Like Figure in American Culture
In this Literary Hub article, the authors argue that despite the Jewish influences in the development of Superman, the first super hero, Superman, became “a Christ metaphor”.
In the original story, baby Superman is found and given to a city orphanage. But in later versions he is found and adopted by Mary and her no-name husband. By 1951, Mary had become Martha, her husband was Jonathan and the town they lived in was Smallville.
The childhoods of Jesus and Superman are thus similar – both have fathers who aren’t biological, those fathers are of humble origins, and both boys “are celestial by nature and human by nurture”.
Its in the 1978 movie, Superman: The Movie (with Christopher Reeve), that the dialog becomes consonant, the authors say, with that in the Christian Scriptures. For example, Jor-El (Marlon Brando) tells Kal-El that he is sending his son to bring the light humanity needs to become “a great people”.
Rather than Kal-El being sent to earth to save him, then, he is being sent to save earth’s inhabitants.
The writers conclude: “Superman was not envisioned as a Jesus figure by Siegel and Shuster…But he gradually became one, mainly thanks to his movies, which is where most people know him from.”