“God vs. Man in Batman v Superman”
Batman v. Superman is my most anticipated film this year; not only does it feature some of my all-time favorite fictional characters, it also promises to explore themes of ambition, innocence, and power. All of the trailers feature a narration from Lex Luther claiming gleefully that the conflict between the two heroes is like “God vs. Man.” The religious overtones in this conflict are clear, but what are we as Christians to make of them?
It’s easy for Christians to be put off by the prevalent comparisons of powerful superheroes to gods. We, like Captain America in the first Avengers movie, often find ourselves thinking “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.” We fear the hint of heresies in fiction because we
know that fiction helps us interpret the world, but what we sometimes forget is that our understanding of the truth can also help us to interpret our fiction.
Superman is often compared to Jesus Christ. The messianic metaphors in the Superman mythos give Christians a unique advantage in their understanding and appreciation of the character. He’s a kind of savior to the human race, but Lex Luther has always represented the ambition of man and the belief that mankind can save itself and rise to the power of gods on their own. This is why he understands the conflict between Batman, a man like himself, and Superman to be the war between Man and God. But what Luther never understands about Superman, is that he does not lord his power above mankind but joins humanity and becomes one of them. Far from the cheesy cliché that people often imagine it to be, Superman’s secret identity as “mild mannered reporter” Clark Kent is a kind of incarnation. The mysteries and wonder of Christ’s actual incarnation are beyond all of our understanding, but to me that mystery makes Superman’s own conflicts between his god-like power and human nature all the more fascinating.