Summary: Everything that Superman aspires to be in imaginary tales, Jesus is in reality—and so much more. The story of Superman is really a parable for the life of Jesus. This is part of a youth series called: Jesus Is My Superhero!
The Last Son of Krypton
Scott Bayles, pastor
First Christian Church, Rosiclare
You know the story. Everyone who hears it can never forget. Once, long ago, a rocket ship dove out of the sky and landed on the humble property of Jonathan and Martha Kent. What happened next would change their lives, and the course of human history, forever. But long before Superman ever set foot on Earth, a father had to make an impossible decision about his son. Let’s go back to the beginning.
Superman, as you may know, hails from another planet—the planet Krypton. Krypton, according to Superman lore, was located some fifty light-years from Earth, where it orbited a red dwarf star, Rao. It is on Krypton that that we discover the first parallels between the son of Jor-El and the Son of God.
While Krypton’s inhabitants bore incredible physical similarities to humans, the culture and civilization were vastly superior. In the comics, the cities of Krypton are depicted with shimmering spires and streets of gold. The many wonders of Krypton include the Fire Falls, a thousand foot wide river of molten rock cascading like Niagra Falls over vertical drops that lead into the underground cavities of Krypton’s crust, and the Jewel Mountains, majestic and prismatic peaks that sparkle on the Kryptonian horizon (picture the Rocky Mountains made out of glass).# Their society was incredibly technologically advanced, they had wiped out crime and poverty, and medical marvels had all but eliminated sickness and death. Krypton was a virtual paradise—a veritable heaven on Earth (or Krypton, that is).
As director of the first Superman movie, Richard Donner’s vision of Krypton would play a huge part in the Superman mythos. In the opening scene of Superman: The Movie, Krypton appears almost like a frozen tundra—the entire planet gleaming white. Crystalline citadels seem to grow right out of the planet itself. Everything about Krypton seems pure and bright. Even the garments of Krypton’s inhabitants are luminous, dazzling white—whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. Sound familiar? It should.
In the DVD commentary for Superman: The Movie, Tom Mankiewicz, who wrote the film’s screenplay, explains, “On Krypton, I was intending for it to be almost semi-biblical.” That’s just what it was.
People sometimes imagine spending eternity in the clouds, floating around and strumming harps unendingly. But that’s certainly not the Biblical picture of Heaven. The Bible describes Heaven as a place that will have rivers, trees, cities, buildings, gates, streets, mountains, and houses (Revelation 21-22). Although its glory will be beyond description, its essential components will be the same as those we find here on Earth. In John’s vision of Heaven, he says, “And the angel carried me away by the Spirit to a very large and high mountain. He showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It was shining with the glory of God and was bright like a very expensive jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:10-11 NCV).
I can’t say that Heaven will actually resemble Donner and Mankiewicz’s vision of Krypton, but the imagery is certainly there. And if Krypton is a figure or type of Heaven, then Jor-El, Superman’s Kryptonian father, must inevitably become a figure for Jesus’ Heavenly Father.
“Marlon Brando as Jor-El, who gave his only son to save the world...” It sounds almost Biblical, doesn’t it? It’s actually a promotional blurb for the 1978 film, Superman: The Movie, staring Christopher Reeve. Jor-El is portrayed as the loving father who willing gave up his only begotten son. The very name El is the Hebrew word for God (as evidenced by names like El-Shaddi or Elohim); a clear allusion that was not lost on Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster—two visionary young men, who happened to be Jewish and familiar with Old Testament terminology. Thus, as Steven Skelton points out, “when El the father sends El the son, it is God the Father sending God the Son—in the truest linguistic sense."
Before Jor-El sends his precious son to Earth, though, he is first presented as a righteous judge. Three insurrectionists charged with “wanton violence and destruction,” stand before the judgment seat of Krypton: Non, a monstrous deviant with the mind of a child; Ursa, whose loathing for her own people drives her selfish ambition; and General Zod. Once charged with the safekeeping of Krypton’s populace, Zod became arrogant and “sought to establish a new order... with himself as absolute ruler.”
Though the terrorists stand before an entire counsel, Jor-El alone would make the final judgment to either condemn them or set them free. Zod makes one final attempt to persuade Jor-El to disagree with the counsel and join him in his quest for world domination, but Jor-El’s nobility would not waver. Before Jor-El make his final pronouncement, Zod demonstrates his unyielding thirst for power, shouting threats even as he faces condemnation, “You will bow down before me, Jor-El, I swear it. No matter if it takes an eternity, you will bow down before me—both you, and then one day, your heirs!”