“Messiah of Steel” – A Movie Review
by Noah Lugeons
I’m a fan of movies, but I won’t pretend to be qualified to critique them. Sure, in the “everyone’s a critic” sense, I can tell you if I liked a movie (I usually didn’t) and why (or why not). But I’m not going to be able to comment intelligently on the cinematography or the score or the nuances of the performances. But I like to think of myself as something of an expert at critiquing irritating Christian themes that sneak their way into otherwise non-Jesus-things, so it is in that capacity that I’d like to take on Zack Snyder’s latest in a series of brain-splitting computer-generated testosterone-vomit films, “Man of Steel”.
This is the same guy that brought us “300”, which you’ll recall for its endless sequences of computer generated abs moving in alternately really slow and really fast motion. This is the same guy that managed to stay relatively true to the graphic novel when he made “Watchmen”, but still somehow managed to make it suck. And now Warner Brothers has given him Superman to artistically rape.
I was nervous as soon as I saw that Snyder was attached to the picture, but I hoped that producer Christopher Nolan would be there to hold his leash and keep him from fucking it up too bad. And while I hated everything beyond the first 30 minutes or so, I’m sure that Summer audiences will eat this crap up with a spoon and we’ll be treated to a couple more of Snyder’s feeble attempts at film-making in the inevitable trilogy to come.
So the big summer blockbuster Superhero movie sucked. Not exactly a blog worthy occurrence. I’d have left my bitching on Facebook and Twitter if it weren’t for all the heavy handed, brutally overdone Jesus allegories that plagued this movie that was managing to suck plenty enough by itself without Jesus.
I should admit up front that I’d already been researching a story about how this movie was being marketed to Christians, so I did go into it looking for the Jesus stuff. I was primed to find Jesus allegories and I did. But Zack Snyder has never been accused of subtlety and I’d venture that blind people who were hard of hearing could have picked up on the Jesus allegories in this flick just by smelling the print.
And before I’m accused of projecting these onto the film, let me give you a couple of examples of what I’m talking about (and don’t worry, no spoilers):
- Superman is conflicted. He’s sitting in a church talking with a priest. The priest is telling him about the importance of sometimes taking a “leap of faith” in something you don’t trust. When we see Superman, the background is a stained-glass window of Jesus wearing a red cape. When we see the priest the background is just a big crucifix.
- Superman is in a spaceship and he punches the wall out. A friendly character tells him “You can save Lois,” and then, as he continues the line with the words, “You can save all of them”, Superman holds out his arms in a crucifixion pose for no fucking reason at all and floats out into space. He holds this pose, which is completely pointless and counter-intuitive when one is floating through a jagged hole in a spacecraft, for a couple of seconds in case anyone was looking down at their popcorn.
These were the worst offenders that I noticed, but there were plenty more.
So one can’t help but wonder why all this Jesus crap got stuck into a Superman movie. Is Superman a particularly Christ like character? You’d have to really stretch to say that he was. Sure, he performs miracles and he’s moral, but Jesus can’t fly and Superman can’t make wine. Plus, martyrdom is sort of the key to the Jesus thing and Superman doesn’t die. Is Superman more Christ-like than Spiderman or Martian Manhunter? I think not.
Christ allegories aren’t really a signature of Snyder’s work. This movie had all the things we’ve come to expect from Zack; more CGI than reality, long and horribly unsatisfying action sequences, a crappy script, a disappointed audience… but where’s all this Jesus coming from?
I can’t help but feel that ultimately it was a marketing ploy and the way that the film is being marketed through churches backs me up on this. The studio wagered that if they got the Christians talking this movie up they’d make a lot of money even if it sucked (and it did). They saw all those Passions dollars rolling in and they said, “why go to the trouble of making a good movie when you can just make a good preview and stick some Jesus stuff in there?”
Sadly, they’ll win the bet. I absolutely hated the movie, but I’m sure I’ll be in the minority. I’m sure I’ll spend the next month hearing how it was “almost as good as the Avengers” (a sentiment I actually agree with, but that’s another story for another day) and everyone involved in making the Jesus gambit will see it pay off. And in the sequel, I’m sure Lex Luthor will be the anti-christ and in the third one Braniac will nail Superman to a kryptonite cross.
This isn’t much of a problem if it’s just the Superman franchise they’re fucking up with it. But we do have to consider the consequences if this becomes a trend. Will we get more religious figures sneaking their way into super hero movies? Will the Hulk ride upon a winged horse? Will Ironman force all his servants to get circumcised? Will Wonder Woman immaculately conceive? Will Will Gleek the Monkey die for our sins?
It’s hard to imagine that there’s a way to make the “superhero” genre suck more, but it’s comforting to know that they’re working on it.