Alter Ego: Clark Kent
Other Names: Kal-El; Superboy; Clark Joseph Kent; Clark Jerome Kent
Super? (Has Super Powers/Special Abilities/Technology): Yes
Number of Appearances: 13,409
Comic Book Appearances: 10,527
TV, Film Appearances: 808
Video Game, Computer Game Appearances: 6
Radio/Audio Shows: 2,068
Romantic Interest: Lois Lane
Worked for: The Daily Planet
Birth Place: Krypton
BELOW: Superman's origin is reminiscent of the Biblical story of Moses being set in a basket on a river in order to save his life. Being sent by his father to Earth to "benefit mankind" is reminiscent of the Biblical account of Jesus.
Source: Action Comics (vol. 1) #1 (June 1938): untitled 1-page Superman origin story, pg. 1, panel 1, 7. Written by Jerry Siegel. Art by Joe Shuster. See also: Old Testament parallels; Christ parallels; Jewish; Christian (generic); Superman (Clark Kent)
BELOW: Champion of the oppressed: "Early, Clark decided he must turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind":
Source: Action Comics (vol. 1) #1 (June 1938): untitled 1-page Superman origin story, pg. 1, panel 7. Written by Jerry Siegel. Art by Joe Shuster. See also: benefit mankind; Superman (Clark Kent)
From: ""Superman Wedding -- why a Christian ceremony?"" forum discussion, started 11 October 1996 on the rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4d17a1ff0ee9c715/d141c36005b90ea4; viewed 5 June 2006):
From: Jim Cowling
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
OK, so I bought the Wedding Album [featuring the wedding of Clark Kent/Superman to Lois Lane]. It wasn't bad, but man-oh-man, did it seem rushed.
My big gripe: why was it a Christian wedding? I mean, it seems obvious to me that Clark's not a Christian. Sure, he was raised in Kansas by parents who probably are.
But Clark? He's not even human. And somehow Lois strikes me as atheist. :)
- Jim Cowling, moderator, rec.arts.comics.info
From: Joseph T Arendt
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
It doesn't bother me that it was a Christian wedding. Just as you did, I figured Ma and Pa Kent were probably Christians, given their background and past history. I would think this might be enough for Clark to want a church wedding even if he himself seldom goes. As for Lois, I don't know whether she is an atheist or not, but I haven't seen signs she would reject the idea of being married in a church even if she doesn't much care. I'd suspect Clark, the Kansas farm boy, might push harder for a church wedding than Lois, the modern city girl.
What I wonder is what would happen if it had been SuperBOY [Connor Kent] and Tana Moon getting married whether it would have still been a Christian wedding. That would feel out of place to me. Superboy wasn't raised by presumably Christian foster parents and I haven't seen any hints he believes in any religion.
From: Brian H. Bailie
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
re: "But Clark? He's not even human... Any thoughts?"
I'm no great theological scholar, but why must one be human to be a Christian?
From: Mike Chary
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
One argument along those lines is: Christ was incarnated as a human and died for humans... That being the case, Christianity might not hold any resonance for an alien like Superman...
The contary reasoning is: Christ was an incarnation of GOD. Worshipping him is worshipping the King of the Universe (to abduct a title from Judaism). Th same God here as on Krypton. Rao and Elohim are the same God. Therefore to worship one is worshipping exactly the same guy.
Needless to say this is an open question.
From: David Markowitz
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Interesting. I thought the wedding was exceptionally non-denominational as weddings go. There wasn't a creche anywhere, no references to Christ, and significant deviations from any wedding format I've seen in person (although it did remind me of TV weddings). Other than them putting Jerry Siegel in some sort of ministerial robe, I didn't see anything that could be called exclusively Christian. The hall did look like a church, but Conservative and Reform Jewish buildings frequently appropriate European-church style architecture.
Not fond of the idea of putting a Jewish man in a [Christian clerical] collar for the sake of cheesy commercial sentimentality...
From: Mike Chary
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
re: "...And somehow Lois strikes me as atheist."
Lois and Clark are both too intelligent to be atheists.
From: Elayne Wechsler-Chaput
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Did you see it [the wedding of Lois and Clark] as Christian? I didn't notice any mentions of Christ (but I'm at work now and the book is at home, so I could be misremembering).
I thought it was a fairly non-denominational religious wedding. Unlike my wedding (and I did marry an atheist), "the G word" (as we call it) [i.e. God] was present [at the wedding of Lois Lane and Clark Kent], but I didn't get the feeling it was a specific religion.
I always figured the Kents were Presbyterian, although I'm not that good at identifying various branches of Christianity. I don't think Lois is an atheist (I don't know that anyone in the DCU is, given the proliferation of gods and godlike creatures about... I mean, Spectre's the Wrath of SOMETHING, right?), but she strikes me as someone for whom religion has been a purely private matter and not all that relevant to her day-to-day interactions, certainly not to her career.
- Elayne (got a kick out of the Jewish minister, though)
From: William H. Sudderth
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
In an (I believe) Roger Stern or Jerry Ordway-written issue several years ago, Clark made a reference to his parents having taught him "religion" as a child. Playing the odds would suggest that he was brought up as a Christian, though the way he's been written post-reboot indicates more clearly that he respects all religions.
In Dan Jurgens' and Dusty Abell's Armageddon 2001 annual, future-Clark married Lana Lang in a Christian sanctuary.
From: Matthew Daly
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Clark's been to the Christianesque afterlife -- what's not to believe that he's a Christian? We don't see him going to church every Sunday, but we also never see him going to the bathroom. Does that mean that he holds it in?
Clark was clearly raised with Christian values that he continues to hold. Whether he's a believer or not, people are married in churches with less than that. And if Lois was married by the same priest who confirmed her, then she's got a history in the church as well.
So, it seems to me that the Lanes are Catholic and the Kents are also religious... Methodists, perhaps?
From: Joseph T Arendt
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
...I think Clark Kent might very well be Christian due to his upbringing by Ma and Pa Kent. You'll note that Clark calls himself Superman rather than Superkryptonian. Thus, he might identify with the son of God coming to Earth as a human being more than another Kryptonian who didn't think of himself as a human being.
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Lois, no doubt, was raised as a Christian. Clark, being from Kansas, probably was to. Thus, a Christian ceremony. I would have no doubt that Clark would probably have had, at least at some time, some major religious questions since he's not human. However, that probably wouldn't be much fun to read in a comic book.
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
One of the key points of the post-Crisis Superman is that he considers himself CLARK KENT, with a secret identity of Superman, not the other way around. He was raised as Clark, lived his formative years as Clark, and only later developed the powers he exhibits today. He considers himself more an American/earthling than a Kryptonian.
Besides, trying to find a priest from the Raoian religion might have taken a while.
From: Joseph T Arendt
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
...Here is food for thought. Superman has had a really long near-death experience back when he was called "dead" in our media. I wonder if that experience affected his religious outlook.
From: Douglas Ethington
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
I always thought that Clark was most likely a Christian - non-denominational, of course, since to specify a denomination would provoke outrage from fans outside the specified one...
From: Len Leshin
Date: Fri, Oct 11 1996 12:00 am
Actually, the gatefold at the end shows a statue that certainly suggested Christ to me. I wondered about that, seeing as Superman was the creation of two nice Jewish boys.
And of course, in Superman II [the feature film], as Superman flies off after saving the child at Niagara Falls, a woman comments: "Of course, he's Jewish."
So, I'm pretending they're Unitarians. Works for me.
From: Steve De Young
Date: Sat, Oct 12 1996 12:00 am
They are in the United States. Most people I know who have gotten married, Christian or no, have had traditional church weddings. What did you want, a pagan nature ceremony? I think traditional was definitely the way to go.
Date: Sat, Oct 12 1996 12:00 am
I just read that particular issue. It's debatable whether the wedding was actually Christian. I would say non-denominational, at least within the Judeo-Christian-Islamic context - but the imagery was that of a Christian church. (Than again, so is the imagery of most quickly wedding chapels.)
Is Superman/Clark/Kal-El a Christian? I don't know. But here's a very controversial way of looking at it...
Jesus [rose] from the dead; so did Superman.
This is not to say Superman actually believes himself to be Christ. But he could well identify with him on those grounds!
From: Elayne Wechsler-Chaput
Date: Sat, Oct 12 1996 12:00 am
re: "They are in the United States. Most people I know who have gotten married, Christian or no, have had traditional church weddings."
And a great many people I know have been married in a non-religious setting (like a room in a reception hall, as we did when we were married by a justice of the peace) rather than a church.
Date: Sat, Oct 12 1996 12:00 am
Let me note that, generally, the wedding takes place in the BRIDE's home church, if different from the groom's.
Therefore, the question is what religion is Lois Lane? Does anyone doubt--with what we've seen of her parents--that Lois was raised in one of the mainstream Protestant denominations? Given her mother's social outlook, I'd argue for Episcopalian or Methodist.
From: Hernan Espinoza
Date: Sat, Oct 12 1996 12:00 am
The problem is, Clark doesn't think of himself as an alien.
He thinks like a human, because he was raised as a human with NO knowledge that he was alien (he thought the powers were because he was a mutant human) until he was in his 20's. Both of your analyses rest on the fact that Clark's alien-ness would play a big role in his religious beliefs. It would not, because he is alien in name only, he is human in all the ways that would count for where his faith led him.
There is a line...way back in the earliest post-Byrne Superman books... Adventures, I think...where Superman says that his Kryptonian heritage is great, but meaningless, since it was Earth that made him a man. Damn.
From: Vincent Louie - AERE/F92
Date: Sun, Oct 13 1996 12:00 am
Superman knows everything we do. Well, not quite, but not far from it. He knows that God exists in the DC Universe. The most obvious example to think God exists in the DC Universe is that it is explicitly stated in the Spectre. For Superman not to think God exists would be like me not believing in Wayne Gretzky.
As for having a Christian ceremony, that doesn't seem odd to me. Almost all Chinese people I know and know of don't believe in God but they had church weddings - including my parents, aunts and uncles. I am guessing that a church wedding is kinda default unless the couple is very strongly atheist.
From: Vincent Louie - AERE/F92
Date: Sun, Oct 13 1996 12:00 am
Dunno, but that doesn't apply to Kent because he didn't know he was an alien until he was pretty old, and he knows for certain that the God of the Jews/Christians/Muslims exists (is there really any difference between the three faiths other than how they choose to honor their God?), since God exists in the DC universe continuity (Spectre provides inarguable precedence - other stories may be debatable). Since Kent is aware of Spectre, he'd be a moron not to believe in God.
From: Don Brinker's Evil Twin
Date: Tues, Oct 15 1996 12:00 am
Re: "...where Superman says that his Kryptonian heritage is great, but meaningless..."
Actually, it was in Man of Steel (the mini, that is) #6
From: Robert D. Kaiser
Date: Tues, Oct 15 1996 12:00 am
...Clark/Superman respects people of all faiths/ethnicites and species...
...Clark's real parents, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, were Jewish!. It was their (Jewish) ethics that created the Superman stories and ethics for the first thirty years or so - the same ethics that Superman displays today.
By the way, Superman's real name is Kal-El, which is happens to be Hebrew for "The Voice of God". Its not known whether this name was given on purpose, or just sounded cool, but it's neat to know.
From: IHCOYC XPICTOC
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
There's one obvious technical problem with Superman being Jewish - at least the pre-Crisis Superman, who apparently enjoyed his invulnerability from day one.
From: John P. Selegue
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
Maybe, but didn't he used to cut his hair with heat vision and a super-mirror?
From: Andrew Johnston
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
Hey, maybe he got circumcised on Krypton! It's possible...
From: Elayne Wechsler-Chaput
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
...in a very famous Golden Age issue, Hitler himself said, "This Superman, he must be a Jew!" So there you are.
From: Edward Mathews
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
Does it work if you're forcing the Hitler reference? And since when is comic book Hitler (as opposed to Earth-Prime Hitler) the authority on Superman's ethnicity?
From: Elayne Wechsler-Chaput
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
It wasn't a forced reference. It was an actual line from an actual GA book. (I was thinking of submitting it to Mike Chary's "Stupidest Comic Book Line" contest over in racm, but I always got kind of a kick out of it...)
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
Although Superman is created by two Jewish men doesn't make him Jewish. Remember that Jack Kirby created the Black Panther for Marvel... who I refer to as one of greatest black super heroes ever created. Jack Kirby wasn't black. I think the idea of creating Superman came from many sources at the time. Shuster and Siegel wanted to create a work of fiction that everyone in the world could relate to. They wanted to create a character to inspire the whole entire world to do better. I think if the character had been black, Latino/a, etc. or even female, the success would've been the same.
...Superman was created to be an external observer to Earthly ways. An the idea of a person being powerful enough to save the world... was very influential to those who fault in WWII.
Remember that Superman as well as other heroes were always on propaganda material... "Buy War Bonds", etc.
I don't think they made Superman to be Jewish. And I don't think Superman is Jewish. I think Superman is the last survivor of a dying world.
I think they incorporated all the best qualities of men and women into a "strange visitor from another planet".
A kryptonian w/ human qualities and powers = Superman
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
If Supes isn't Christian then explain why he celebrates Christmas (and in fact goes out of his way to help Santa Claus a few times)... Unless you mean that post-Crisis thing which is NOT Superman but in fact a renegade Fortress robot.
From: anil tandon
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
Well, I celebrate Christmas sometimes and I'm not Christian... If nothing else, it's a cool excuse to buy that cool icicle stuff.
Date: Wed, Oct 16 1996 12:00 am
...My take on it is that Clark was raised by Christians, but the particular denomination was left vague so as not to shut out readers of other faiths. I've never seen any evidence to support the assumption that Superman is Jewish. Nothing against Judaism, but that's just not the way Clark was raised, that's all.
Although, if you ask me, it's high time DC had a few more Jewish heroes in their universe. And not these lame-o heroes where the whole basis of the character is they're Jewish ("I'm Dreidleman! Watch me spin these crooks out of the solar system!"). Superhero religion should be a background issue, it's important to the character, but not a huge factor. My Catholicism doesn't come up every day, nor do I go around asserting my faith. So what if Superman's not Jewish? Just because his creators were Jewish, that makes him Jewish? Do all the characters Grant Morrison create have to be white, male and Scottish? What's important is that Superman does what he does, not under what philosophy he does it.
From: Timothy Burke
Date: Thurs, Oct 17 1996 12:00 am
This thread is the kind of thing that I'd just love the folks who maintain the DCU to think about seriously, namely, how would a world where super-powers were practically the norm be a bit different from our own for ordinary people? You don't have to go the whole hog and make everything radically different a la Miracleman. But as several people have pointed out in this thread, you have the problem on one hand that miracles are commonplace in the DCU: it would be pretty commonsensical to wonder if Christ was simply a metahuman. On the other hand, God and Satan have demonstrable, empirically provable existences in the DCU, not merely as really, really powerful superbeings (which one could dismiss demons and angels as) but as exactly what monotheistic religions say they are, the supreme Creator of the universe and the head fallen angel. I can imagine that one might decide, as Constantine did, that the angels are just as bad as the demons but it would be pure folly in the DCU not to believe in the Supreme Being. Incontrovertible evidence is not very hard to come by in the DCU context. It would be interesting if DC's staff actually took this fact seriously and follow it to its logical conclusions. I say this as an atheist: I wouldn't want to whole thing to turn into some drippingly pious testament...indeed, were I a devout Christian, I might be more than a little bothered by DC's ersatz theology, since God tends to come off as a rather nastily manipulative and schizophrenic Old Testament type in the DCU.
From: IHCOYC XPICTOC
Date: Thurs, Oct 17 1996 12:00 am
FBOFW [for better or for worse], the "For the Man Who Has Everything" annual seemed to suggest that a substantial number of Kryptonians were fundamentalists, and that there was a Kryptonian branch of the KKK.
From: Trevor Barrie
Date: Sat, Oct 19 1996 12:00 am
I'm not Christian, but I celebrate Christmas.
...the pre-Crisis Superman was definitely not Christian. He worshipped the Kryptonian sun god. Post-crisis Supes has never been explicitly placed in any religion, but considering his upbringing, he's probably a Christian of some flavor.
From: Joseph T Arendt
Date: Mon, Oct 21 1996 12:00 am
There was an interesting storyline some years back where Clark Kent uncovered that some Arabs thought Superman was anti-Arab because of his attack on Qurac. In the story about the attack, it seemed Superman had very good reasons for attacking Qurac. Still, I found it interesting that a mere comic book would mention the complexity where some people would assume Superman had acted very unjustly and his actions were racially motivated.
I think this was written by Jerry Ordway...
By the way, I saw an amusing cartoon in the early Eighties. The text said something like, "He came to Earth to save mankind. He accomplished miracles." There was some more like that. Next to this text was a picture of Superman. The final line, indicating the picture, said, "This is not Him!"
Some years later, when Action Comics became Action Comics Weekly, there was a Superman story where a cult decided he was a god. Superman himself was mostly annoyed by this. This storyline strongly reminded me of the This-is-not-Him cartoon.
For more recent readers, the cult that worships Superman appeared in "Funeral for a Friend" and/or "Reign of the Supermen."
From: IHCOYC XPICTOC
Date: Mon, Oct 21 1996 12:00 am
The Billy Graham Evangelical Association, back in 1978, distributed a book published by Bethany Fellowship by John Wesley White, which bore the title The Man from Krypton: The Gospel According to Superman.
The author basically hung a rather standard evangelical tract around familiar elements of the Superman mythos.
If anyone wants to check it out, the ISBN is 0-87123-384-3.
From: Matthew Daly
Date: Mon, Oct 21 1996 12:00 am
re: "...the pre-Crisis Superman was definitely not Christian. He worshipped the Kryptonian sun god."
Great Rao! I thought that was just Supergirl's faith.
From: Robert D. Kaiser
Date: Mon, Oct 21 1996 12:00 am
I... wrote that Superman's real name is Kal-El, which is happens to be Hebrew for "The Voice of God". There are actually two ways this can be interpreted. With the Hebrew letters Kuf,Lamed, it means "The Voice of God". With the letters Kaf,Lamed, it means "All of God" or "Full Divinity" or something to that effect. It probably really doesn't mean anything, as I am sure that Superman was never meant as a divine figure like the Spectre. Its just that Jews often give their children compound names that are like this, i.e. a name followed by "El". For instance, my Hebrew name is "Yirachme-El", which means "May God render compassion".
re: "I've never seen any evidence to support the assumption that Superman is Jewish. Nothing against Judaism, but that's just not the way Clark was raised, that's all."
That's absolutely true. I originally wrote my post in response to someone who said that Superman exhibited his idea of Christian morality, which I disagreed with, so I turned the idea around. Superman, post-crisis, is almost absolutely a member some Christian denomination. Its just that his creators, and a few of later writers and editors, were really Jewish, and I thought I could detect that. Pre-crisis, I think he adopted a Kryptonian belief system.
Within the world of the DC Universe, I really doubt Superman believes that all people of other religions are contaminated with an original sin that dooms them all to Hell. [Note: This is an incorrect and non-Biblical interpretation of Christian theology.] He's just not written that way...
From: Andrew Krepela
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
Well considering he was raised by an old fashioned couple from rural Kansas, Clark was probably raised as a Southern Baptist or a Methodist. Superman has always been somewhat of a Christ-figure in comics anyway. The fact that 2 Jewish guys created him doesn't mean he would be Jewish. If that were the case 99% of the Marvel and DC Universes would be Jews.
I thought it [the wedding of Clark Kent and Lois Lane] was tastefully done, showing that it was a religious ceremony but not denoting any specific denomination.
From: Jon Ingersoll
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
re: "Just out of curiosity, is there any major character in the DC Universe definitely shown as being Jewish?"
For that matter, what characters have been portrayed as having any definite religion?
...Barry Allen and Superman (or probably more precisely Iris West Allen and Lois Lane) were and are Christians judging by their wedding ceremonies. I'd have to look more precisely at the garb to guess Catholic or Protestant.
From: Wayne Clark
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
If he [Superman] was raised in the middle of Kansas, he might be Presbyterian or Lutheran.
From: Robert D. Kaiser
Date: Wed, Oct 23 1996 12:00 am
Does it bug anyone that almost every character in the DC Universe is either some kind of generic agnostic or generic Unitarian? I think that these characters deserve real personalities, with real belief systems. Why not let some of the very few Jewish characters actually act like religious Jews, and maybe keep kosher and Shabbat? Why not let the Christian characters go to confession and go to mass? Why not show atheist characters specifically deny having a deistic belief system?
The best religious characterization I have seen in a non-religious story belongs to the characters of "Babylon 5". Although the writer, Joe Michael Straczynski, is an avowed atheist, he has written the most human and religious characters that I have seen in a long time. Jewish, Christian, Foundationist, Agnostic, and even Alien belief systems are shown with great care, and terrific writing.
From: Vaughn Herbert Seward
Date: Thurs, Oct 24 1996 12:00 am
The "old" Superman, of course, worshipped Rao, but the premise was that He was the same God worshipped by true Christians, Jews, Moslems, and everyone else... (And this was introduced in the '70s; before then, no hints were given.)
And Superman was never as blatant a Christ-figure in the comics as he was in the movie (Jor-El saying everything but "only-begotten"...).
Then there were the novelizations by Elliot Maggin that came out accompanying the first two movies. Last Son of Krypton, and then Miracle Monday (or, The Devil and Daniel Superman). Yes, Christianity has snuck in to the Superman mythos on odd occasions. (Discovering monsters left behind on an island by Noah's Ark...)
Then there's the time we discovered he was the product of selective breeding by the Guardians (hey, with Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, and Columbus in your family tree...)...a Lensman figure? Or the Sword of Superman (an Arthur figure)?
Still, Superman isn't really a Christ figure. Superman vs. Lex Luthor. Captain Marvel (no, not Mar-Vell of Kree, but the Big Red Cheese) vs. Sivana. Hercules vs. Daedalus.
Superman is just your archetypal hero, springing from the same ultimate sources as Conan the Barbarian. Your honest muscleman, fighting sly clever weaklings.
From: Bill Bickel
Date: Fri, Oct 25 1996 12:00 am
If Superman can be assumed to be in any way Jewish just because Siegel and Shuster were Jewish, then "White Christmas" must by extension be a Chanukah song.
From: "Banned for using this nic" forum discussion, started 4 April 1999 on the rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/f38288dc4e56542/8a873a0a53da3d0d; viewed 12 June 2006):
Date: Tues, Apr 6 1999 12:00 am
re: "[What is the religious affiliation of] Superman?"
His wedding was in the Christian tradition, but left deliberately unspecific. He's probably Anglican by upbringing, but doubt that anyone at DC wants him coming out as any one specific denomination.
From: "Who in Marvel and DC DON'T celebrate Christmas?" forum discussion, started 1 January 2000 on the Killer Moves website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-380665-who-in-marvel-and-dc-dont-celebrate-christmas.html; viewed 25 December 2005):
[Actual posting date is unknown.]
Superman somehow managed to convince every dang superhero to come to a "holiday" bash with CHRISTMAS trees and CHRISTMAS songs on the Watchtower.
From: "rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe newsgroup" forum discussion, started 10 February 2001 on The religions of comic book characters website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.marvel.universe/browse_thread/thread/13590fda80c5d6e1/e5e0b094ced80f0b; viewed 12 June 2006):
From: Terry McCombs
Date: Sat, Feb 10 2001 6:35 pm
For the most part you don't get much of an idea as to the private lives of most comic book characters. Marvelish soap opera not withstanding.
What I mean is you don't get much of an idea what their politics or religion might be. This is sensible enough I guess as they don't want to offend any of their customers.
From time to you see things, whenever DC has shown Superman or Batman being married they always seem to have someone in a white collar officiating. Are they saying they are Catholic? or Episcopalian? Or that they just wanted someone religious looking doing it?
...What do you think?
From: "What religion do superhero's belong to? [sic]" forum discussion, started 18 July 2002 on the Toon Zone website (http://forums.toonzone.net/showthread.php?t=41332; viewed 21 May 2007):
07-18-2002, 01:02 PM
What religion do superhero's [sic] belong to?
I'd like to discuss what religious beliefs are favorite costumed hero's belong to. Everyone knows Daredevil is Catholic. But beyond that, what do we know of superhero's beliefs? I'm thinking of mostly the Marvel Universe, but you DC fans feel free to contribute as well...
07-18-2002, 01:27 PM
...In JL:TAS Superman has said: "Good Lord!!" twice so I would say he's Christian.
07-18-2002, 01:53 PM
...I'd say Supes is a Christian too. Anyone with that small town upbringing in Kansas would be just about [certain to be a Christian] (my parents were raised in small town Kansas by the way, so I would know about Kansas life)...
07-18-2002, 04:03 PM
...While I do agree with the consensus that Superman is some denomination of Christian, I'm not positive that his use of, "Good Lord!" is proof of that. I say stuff like that (and similar religiously themed exclamations) all the time, and I'm a Buddhist. Besides, for all we know, Superman has converted to some Kryptonian faith.
07-18-2002, 04:55 PM
Superman is most definitely Christian. In "Superman For all Seasons", he consults with his church pastor about what to do with a man's power, and later attended a candle-light vigil at the church.
07-18-2002, 07:52 PM
Well I have to agree. Superman is Christian but non-denominational...
07-20-2002, 11:39 AM
Pre-Crisis, the Silver Age/Earth-1 Superman seemed rather favoring of Kryptonian religion (which is Raoism, referring to Krypton's sun-god Rao), often clamoring "Rao!" Though of course, being brought up by Ma and Pa Kent, he probably went to some Protestant church as well (and was shown celebrating Christmas); also recall a Legion story where Superboy says "my God" (I think).
Also pre-Crisis, the Golden Age/"Earth-2" Superman and Lois got married in some unspecified-religion Protestant Christian church (as did their post-Crisis counterparts a few years ago in "Superman: The Wedding Album")...
From: "The Corner (letter column)" forum discussion, started 29 July 2002 on the National Review Online website (http://www.nationalreview.com/thecorner/2002_07_28_corner-archive.asp; viewed 12 May 2006):
Posted 1:19 PM
A reader says:
Dear Mr. Goldberg:
Your noting the piece in the NY Post about The Thing being revealed as Jewish is interesting, but those of the Tribe have had their own superhero for decades.
The Man of Steel is Jewish, and this fact has been known all along, both by pro-Superman readers, and by anti-Semites (Goebbels is known to have believed this and have it referenced in wartime Nazi radio propaganda). Consider: created by two Jewish boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Real name, Kal-el. And his origin...think a moment about his origin, and remember that this was being written by a pair of Jewish teenagers in 1939. Baby Kal-el, refugee from a holocaust that wipes out his entire people! Where else would he end up but...America?
Alas, his name got changed to "Clark Kent" (and isn't that exactly the sort of name a poor Jewish immigrant would come up with, if he were trying to fit In?) and his ethnic origins got laundered fairly thoroughly. Not much left except blue-black hair and a difficult girlfriend.
Posted 1:23 PM
Some problems with the idea that Superman is Jewish. First of all, the mohel would have to use a diamond cutter at the bris. More important, this is all based on subtext. Of course, Superman was an idealized product of the Jewish imagination of two Jewish guys. But, that's a very different argument. I prefer to stick with the stuff above the subtext, what's that called again? Oh, yeah, the text.
Posted 1:53 PM
Kathryn, Jonah, look, think about it for a second. Superman's principal adversary is called Luthor. The Man of Steel is obviously a dyslectic Catholic.
[James S. Robbins]
Posted 1:54 PM
Kal-el had to have been circumcised on Krypton, where it could reasonably have been done. Surely his parents would not have shot him into space without a bris. Besides, what are the odds of finding a mohel in Smallville? And talk about lost tribes, how did they get out there anyway?
Posted 2:08 PM
On the other hand, Jonah, I know that you will be pleased to know that if Superman is indeed Jewish--and keeps kosher--there is a chance that he may still be able to enjoy some tasty Marmite feasts.
From: "He's strong! He's powerful! He's fantastic! And he prays!" forum discussion, started 1 October 2002 on the ToonZone.net website (http://forums.toonzone.net/archive/index.php/t-50423.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
10-01-2002, 02:59 PM
I know Superman is Christian. He's been shown going to church in a few issues, I think.
From: "Catholic Clix - Comic info needed!" forum discussion, started 3 May 2003 on the HCRealms website (http://www.hcrealms.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-40338.html; viewed 24 May 2007):
Ok, so in recent films it's been apparent that Daredevil and Nightcrawler are Catholic...
So, who else out there could be fielded in a "Catholic" Heroclix team?
...Wolfsbane, Rahne Sinclair is another [Catholic]. She was orphaned and raised by strict Catholic preacher named, Reverend Craig... [Editor: Actually, Wolfsbane has always been a Presbyterian, and is overtly identified as such.]
Spider-Man may also be one [a Catholic] but I'm not sure; Aunt May recites the 'Our Father' holding Rosary beads before going to bed in the movie. There's definitely a strong Christian influence there anyway.
Superman also had a strong Christian upbringing, Jonathan and Martha Kent were praying for a child around the time Kal-El landed on Earth. Martha is always praying for Jonathan during the 'Death of Superman' saga, as Jonathan is venturing on his 'spiritual search' for Clark.
Spider-Man and Superman I'm not sure about being Catholic, but they're definitely Christian influenced.
Here's some for future reference that aren't in Heroclix yet.
Firebird's is Catholic. Punisher was Catholic (I'm not sure now). Aurora from Alpha Flight is very Catholic in one of her split personalities. Dagger is Catholic (not sure about Cloak). Bushwhacker (a villain) is Catholic. Venom's Catholic (Eddie Brock that is ;) ).
As for those that are in the game:
...Superman I'm not too sure about. Given the region he and his folks live in, I'd go with a Protestant religion. Probably Baptist or Unitarian.
Superman is definitely Christian, but due to the region he grew up is most likely some brand of Protestant...
Me, I'm agnostic, but more power to you if you have faith in anything at all. As long as you don't try to ram it down my throat, that is.
Nightcrawler, Daredevil, Aurora and Huntress definitely [are Catholic]. Superman I agree is probably one of the Protestant denominations...
Wow, thanks everyone. Yeah, Supes grew up in the Bible Belt, and the Spider-Man/Aunt May thing would be nice...
re: Given the region [Superman] and his folks live in, I'd go with a Protestant religion. Probably Baptist or Unitarian.
That's quite that choices you gave - Baptist or Unitarian. That's [like] saying he's either Mormon [i.e., a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] or Buddhist, not sure which.
I'd go with Supes being a Methodist or Unitarian. Chris Reeves is a practicing Unitarian, so it's a good bet DC headed that way.
Okey dokey. Unitarian sounds good for Superman. But Unitarians are a very accepting Belief. They have ministers who are Christian, Buddhist, Pagan etc... One such group within a church worship Odin. And boy do you not want to joke about HULK is Stronger than Thor. Yeessh. I added this for additional info. I am a Unitarian And our Minister Cynthia Cain is a practicing Buddhist.
Batman is a confirmed atheist, Superman is Protestant (exact denomination unknown), Thor's [religion] is his own dad...
re: I'd go with Supes being a Methodist or Unitarian...
Actually, I'd say that Superman is most likely either Baptist, Methodist or non-Denominational Protestant. The reason being, that is what you'll most likely find when you look for a church in a small Kansas town.
You won't find Unitarian churches except in the larger cities (i.e.: Topeka, Lawrence, Wichita, Kansas City ... and that's pretty much it). Being raised in a smaller town like Dodge City or Garden City or even Abilene or Liberal, you'd be hard-pressed to find a Unitarian Universalist church anywhere.
I'm from Kansas, and I've been to most of the towns of which I speak and spent a lot of time in the smaller farming communities that Superman would have come from.
Trust me, despite his occasional mentions of the Kryptonian god Rao (whose name he will take 'in vain', but never will he use 'Jesus' or 'God' in that manner), [he would have] been a Protestant Christian not a Unitarian.
From: "Religious Themes in Comics" forum discussion, started 21 May 2003 on the Sketchy Origins website (http://www.sketchyorigins.com/comics/archive/index.php?t-1380.html; viewed 12 May 2006):
05-29-2003, 07:14 AM
I was reading about Alex Ross in Wizard 141 last night and he said that he liked the DC characters so much because each one was like a "god" of his realm. Aquaman of the water, Batman of Gotham, Superman of Metropolis, J'Onn J'Onzz of Mars. Each one has the ultimate power in their given sphere of influence. So, he equated it to like the best of the best.
Well, I bring this up here not only because he mentions that they are gods, but also because it seems to me that they are often set up as saviors as well. Batman is to rid Gotham of crime. Superman protects humanity. Aquaman protects the oceans. J'Onn J'Onzz is the last of his kind from Mars and is supposed to save his civilization. These are all Christ-like attributes.
This doesn't just go for DC characters, but I only mention them because that's what Alex Ross talked about in the article. As I said earlier in this thread, I think that this "Christian" influence on the character development and story creation could be more a reflection of that influence in our society and our popular mythos, more so than a direct allusion.
These are archetypes that we are looking at here. That's why we recognize similar traits among them.
From: "Stuart Moore's A Thousand Flowers: O Deadly Night" forum discussion, started 2 December 2003 on the Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-6949.html; viewed 28 June 2007):
12-02-2003, 09:00 AM
...Which brings us to Christmas comics.
On the face of it, Christmas comics are an odd phenomenon. The whole point of the holidays is communal experience -- reunion with loved ones, families gathering together. But comics-reading -- any reading -- is an inherently solitary activity. How does this fit together?... But now we're getting awfully heavy for a column about holiday comics. Pour yourself an eggnog (ech -- does anybody really drink that stuff?) and let's look back at some of the best, and strangest, examples of the genre from years past.
A couple of notes before we begin. First off, holiday comics stories are almost always Christmas stories, despite the number of influential Jewish creators and editors in the field. This is partly because, in earlier decades, publishers tried to cater to the Christian majority of readers (and distributors). But it's also because of the nature of Christmas itself.
First... there's no holiday like Christmas for silly smiles, treacly sentimentality, and the ability to fool yourself into thinking all's right with the world for just one night. Which, if you think about it, plays right into those teenage tendencies we were talking about up above.
Second: When it comes to sentimental Christmas stories, DC rules. There have been very few Marvel Christmas stories, and they haven't been very good. This is partly because of the serial nature of Marvel's stories, which made holiday-themed tales harder to squeeze in -- they'd tend to call attention to the fact that, for instance, the entire previous year of Avengers took place the week before Christmas...
To illustrate, let's start with an untitled Superman story by Jerry Siegel and Jack Burnley, originally published in Superman's Christmas Adventure, a 1940 giveaway comic, and reprinted in 1975's wonderful Christmas with the Super-Heroes treasury edition. This little fifteen-page charmer packs a lot in: Superman shows a rich kid the meaning of Christmas, foils the plans of "Dr. Grouch and Mr. Meaney" (trust me, I ain't making this up), saves Lois from dying on a runaway sparkler-rocket, and helps Santa himself deliver his toys. Because it's a Christmas story, Grouch and Meaney find the true meaning of Christmas and "promise to be kind from now on."
Ah, you're snickering... but I see that tear welling up in your eye...
The duck stories are charming, and in 1940 Superman could get away with helping an old bearded gentleman deliver presents to the world. But by the '70s, comics had "grown up" a little. On-panel appearances by Santa Claus were out, and most comics had embraced gritty realism...
"Superman's Last Christmas," by Cary Bates and Rich Buckler (Superman #369, 1981) is a real oddity. Clark/Superman spends the entire story in a severe holiday funk -- "Maybe if I keep myself super-busy, these agonizing holidays will pass so much faster!" -- because the deaths of Krypton and of his foster parents point up how alone he is in the universe, especially this time of year. (All this and the farkatke Parasite, too -- oy!) The plot comes around to a quiet, touching ending, but Superman never really cheers up. Writer Cary Bates gains points for sheer maudlin depression, but man -- he must have been going through something when he wrote this one...
12-02-2003, 09:57 AM
Some additions to your reprint list: the Golden Age Superman story, the Golden Age Wonder Woman story... "Wanted: Santa Claus - Dead Or Alive" and "The Teen Titans Swinging Christmas Carol" are all included in the trade paperback A DC Universe Christmas . Incidentally, it also includes a Darkseid Christmas story ("Present Tense" by Ty Templeton) that's one of my absolute favorites.
12-02-2003, 01:24 PM
As a Jewish fan, I do get a bit tired of Christmas stories in all media, but I am certainly not hoping to see more Hanukkah stories...
However, I will say that good writers write good Christmas stories built on ideas that can be very universal. Dan Jurgens did a beautiful one in Superman involving Supes opening all his mail at the general post office right before the holidays, and a follow-up to this that took place while Supes was dead. In John Ostrander's Spectre, the ghost with the most tried to make sure that no murders occurred on Christmas Eve, which was a lot harder than it sounds, even for Jim Corrigan.
But if I see one more Christmas Carol adaptation anywhere, even in a comic book, I will scream.
From: "Any Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion, started 22 April 2004 on the rec.arts.comics.dc.universe newsgroup website (http://groups.google.com/group/rec.arts.comics.dc.universe/browse_thread/thread/4e5839f075fecf76/8821b5db671e7ce1; viewed 20 June 2006):
From: Gustavo Wombat
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 12:03 pm
I can't think of any major superheroes that strongly believe in any real faith, and that surprises me. Certainly not in the DC Universe. I think there are more minority superheroes than religious ones...
From: Mark J. Reed
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 1:07 pm
Pre-Crisis, Superman worshipped (or studied and made use of rituals from the worship of, at least) a god named Rao. Rao was apparently a Kryptonian Sun-God, although it was implied several times that "Rao" was in fact the Kryptonian name for the same One True God in which Terran Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe. Post-Crisis, Supes has mentioned Rao - royally set Zeus off once just by saying the name! Was that ever explored? - but hasn't been seen to be active in Rao-worship. In the PZ Krypton storyline the bad-guy movers and shakers were a Rao cult, IIRC.
What was Clark and Lois's wedding ritual, btw? Non-religious?
Non-denominational Christian? Something else? (Pre-Crisis, I don't recall any details about Lois's wedding to CLARK on Earth-2, but there was a separate ceremony in the Fortress with Superman done according to the Kryptonian tradition. I still remember the lines "In the name of Rao, who shaped the sun, . . ." (the bride's answer had "moons" in place of "sun". Maybe that whole Sun=Man Moon=Woman thing was part of Kryptonian tradition, too, although it seems unlikely somehow :)).
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 1:51 pm
Re: "What was Clark and Lois's wedding ritual...? Non-religious? Non-denominational Christian? Something else?"
The officiator (if that's the word) was a Protestant minister, I think, but there wasn't anything specific to one religion in the ceremony, and it took place in the decidedly non-denominational Metropolis Chapel of United Faiths.
Date: Thurs, Apr 22 2004 11:52 pm
re: "Pre-Crisis, Superman worshipped... Rao... [who] was in fact the Kryptonian name for the same One True God in which Terran Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe."
I always thought that this was pretty clear. Rao used to be a sun-god, but later experienced a shift in terminology and become a symbol for "God". The Krypton Miniseries even repeated the Noah's ark story and IIRC there once was a Kryptonian Jesus Christ analogue, a bringer of peace who died for his belief in peace, love and understanding.
Mark J. Reed
Date: Fri, Apr 23 2004 7:40 pm
re: "Post-Crisis, Supes has mentioned Rao - royally set Zeus off once just by saying the name!"
re: "Cool. When did that happen?"
It was in Man of Steel, during Mark Schultz's run. But we never found out why Zeus hates Rao . . . new creative team, idea dropped, yada yada.
Date: Sat, Apr 24 2004 6:21 am
The impression I get of Superman (most notably in the Kismet story following the Blaze/Satanus War) is that he is motivated at least partly by religious faith (at least inasmuch as that's part of being "raised right" in Kansas), he just doesn't talk about it much.
But yeah, it is odd that out of the three most noticeably Christian superheroes (Nightcrawler, Daredevil and Huntress) one is motivated largely by circumstance (being a mutant) and the other two began their careers seeking revenge.
From: "Are Superheroes Religious?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2004 on the "The John Byrne Forum" section of the Byrne Robotics website (http://jb.24-7intouch.com/forum/get_topic.asp?FID=3&TID=558&DIR=P; viewed 9 January 2006):
14 May 2004 at 4:19 am
Very little religion in the DCU - there seems to be a pervading non-denominational deist philosophy (Spectre is an agent of God, but let's not be specific about what religion for fear of alienating the others).
Nuklon/Atom Smasher clearly Jewish.
Huntress presumably Catholic by reference to crucifix.
Pre-Crisis Superman presumably nominally a member of the Kryptonian religion (whatever that was) by virtue of his frequent "Great Rao!"s.
A bit tricky to address religion in a universe where there is quite a high preponderance of actual Gods!
From: "Gods and Champions" forum discussion, started 11 September 2004 on the HERO Games website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-21728.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Sep 11th, '04, 04:46 AM
Doesn't it seem that religious-based super-heroes get a sort of lopsided treatment? Characters like Thor, Hercules and others never seem to catch much flak for claiming to be pagan gods and such, but Christian-based supers are either unheard of, or portrayed as over-zealous whack-jobs. I'm not a particularly religious person, so please don't take this a some sort of rant; [it's] just something I've noticed.
I think characters like Thor should be facing some major PR [public relations] issues, more so than mutants, really. Claiming not only to be divine, but Pagan would raise some serious issues in some places. Maybe there would be an organization like the Church of the Archangel Michael or other mutant hate groups, but religiously inspired and dedicated to putting down/debunking the false gods. Has anyone done anything like this in their campaigns?
Sep 11th, '04, 06:28 AM
As noted, in the Marvel Universe most people tend to consider Thor to not really be a Norse God, but someone who styles himself as one. Admittedly, it's a little weird to think that a radiation accident gave someone the ability to so closely mimic a god, but oh well. I guess it's easier for people to believe something that doesn't make sense, [rather] than question their faith. It's [kind of] like Defender and many others in the CU [Champions Universe] refusing to believe in magic, but instead trying to define it as mental powers or whatnot...
In general, the writers (who I suspect [are] of a slightly liberal bent) like to trot out religion to say "religion taken too far is bad." Unfortunately, they also tend to not show religion as it affects a character on a daily basis, like Superman going to church on Sunday, or Spider-Man being asked to sponsor someone for confirmation. If it doesn't have a direct impact on the story, it just doesn't exist.
From: "Religious Beliefs of Marvel Characters" forum discussion, started 20 October 2004 on the Comic-Forum.com website (http://www.comic-forum.com/marvel/Religious_beliefs_of_Marvel_characters_397905.html; viewed 8 June 2006):
Date: 20 Oct 2004 21:55:56
Subject: Religious beliefs of Marvel characters?
Does anybody know the religious beliefs of various characters? ...I suppose the only DC character I'm curious about is Superman. One would think that with the whole "God and country" theme commonly associated with Supes and Captain America they would be Christian, but I've never seen that theory documented in the comics.
Date: 21 Oct 2004 15:19:09
From: Paul O'Brien
It would be incongruous for the character [Superman] not to be Christian, for exactly the reasons you say.
Date: 20 Oct 2004 22:37:38
Well, Supes keeps exclaiming "Great Rao!" but I doubt that he's really deep into Kryptonian deities.
Date: 22 Oct 2004 07:03:46
From: Just Jak!
To try to answer the OP, in the Madman/Superman crossover, Madman asks Supes [Superman] if he believes in God and Supes says he does, but that's from Allred's point of view and doesn't actually address the question of religion. One can believe that a God exists and not be a Christian. Superman could be a Deist, for example.
Date: 22 Oct 2004 11:20:59
Didn't supes have a post-Crisis run in with a Kryptonian cleric?
Date: 22 Oct 2004 14:31:12
A cleric, yes. But I don't think he was Kryptonian, just a scholar of things related to Krypton.
Date: 04 Dec 2004 09:29:39
If you read the subtext (actually the actual text) of Miller's Dark Night Returns you will see Supes not only talking to what amounts to Gaea, but actually recovering and re energizing (after being caught in a 'New-Clear' blast :]), from the surrounding planets biosphere.
Clark Kent would have been (most likely raised some kind of Christian by his adoptive parents but I don't see him being suited to any one region after touring all over the world (and universe).
Date: 04 Dec 2004 12:03:50
Clark Kent/Supes has always referred to God, not Jesus. Therefore it is easy to assume that he was raised Deist.
Since both companies were created by Jews, I seriously doubt that any of the characters are Christians, since Jews don't accept Jesus as the Saviour.
Then again, the companies have been under new management, so If some one can remember a time where any characters were praying to Jesus, let me know.
Date: 04 Dec 2004 13:41:28
From: The Babaloughesian
I don't think it's safe to assume that the characters are the same religion as the creators.
Apparently an issue of Comic Book Marketplace inadvertently indicated that the Hulk had been revealed as Jewish when in fact the writer was trying to note that Ben Grimm ("The Thing") had been revealed as Jewish. This misprint prompted the following discussion.
From: "What issue was the Hulk revealed as Jewish?" forum discussion, started 12 November 2004 on the IMWAN website (http://www.imwan.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=999&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=22; viewed 31 July 2007):
Posted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 4:34 pm
Sure, some writers do tend to insert some of their own faith (or just a faith) into superheroes not known to have a designated faith. During the Jim Lee/Azarello run on Superman, they had him talking to a Catholic priest for guidance. I wouldn't assume Superman is Catholic because of this, however.
Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:12 am
Why does it upset you so to see comic book characters associated with religious faiths? It stands to reason that a percentage of them would be extremely religious.. some would attend services... some would consider themselves part of a religion even if they don't participate.. just as in the real world.
Yet you seem to be offended by writers who build on characters by including religion... something that is a part of most folks' lives and has greatly affected politics over the past few decades. Not exactly a topic that should be shoved under a rug.
It seems ridiculous to keep characters stagnant, stuck in the vaccum built by their creators.
Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 10:56 am
I reject the premise on which your question is based. [Darin later makes it clear what he means by this: He rejects the assumption in Kurt's question. Darin does not actually object to comic book characters expressing religious faith.]
From: "Religious Inclinations of heroes" forum discussion, started 1 March 2005 on the StarDestroyer.net website (http://bbs.stardestroyer.net/viewtopic.php?t=63632; viewed 8 June 2006):
Posted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 6:38 pm
Post subject: Religious Inclinations of heroes
...Superman's religion has always been left up in the air - Silver Age Supes was a believer in Kryptonian religion but ret-conned Superman has been left ambiguously religious...
What about other heroes? I notice religion rarely plays a part in mainstream superhero comics (absent things like the Vertigo line) but have you ever picked up on hints or outright admissions by some heroes as to their religious inclinations?
Seems that atheistic heroes are as rare in comics as in real life. If they are religious it's a sort Judeo-Christian wishy-washy sort of religion...
Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 12:01 am
...The old Superboy (1960s) may be Christian, as he "memorized both Testaments of the Holy Bible," according to an editor's letter.
From: "2000AD characters with defined 'real' religious orientations" forum discussion, started 7 March 2005 on the 2000 AD Online website (http://www.2000adonline.com/?zone=fan&page=messagethread&choice=13185; viewed 3 August 2007):
posted by Tordelbach on 7 Mar 05 at 17:58
2000AD characters with defined 'real' religious orientations
Just reading the always interesting 'Fool Brittannia', where Reggie muses on the (fascinating) Radio 4 documentary on the 'Jewishness' of Superman, and asks about the whereabouts of characters with clearly-defined religions in comics.
To his informal shortlist, I could only add (IIRC) Kitty Pryde from 'X-Men', who is/was Jewish, and David from 'Strangers in Paradise', who is/was devoutly Christian. This got me thinking: what about Tooth?
Do we have many 2000AD characters with defined 'real' religious orientations?
From: "Vegetarian Superheroes" forum discussion, started 18 March 2005 on the Brian Michael Bendis section of "Jinxworld" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-231.html; viewed 31 July 2007):
03-18-2005, 01:01 PM
So... out of curiosity are there vegetarian superheroes? I'm not talking about supporting characters, but the actual heroes who wear tights and a cape. And are any of them vegan?
03-18-2005, 01:04 PM
..."Birthright" has indicated Superman is.
I don't think there's PETA MAN if that's what you're getting at.
03-19-2005, 11:23 AM
I think it's actually been mentioned that Superman is a Vegetarian. He doesn't need to eat and gets all his nutrients from the sun. I'm not sure who said it, but one creator a while back said it, and it may have been retconned by now...
10-31-2006, 02:00 PM
Actually, Clark eats a lot of steak.
Matter Eater Lad might be Vegan since he can eat anything he doesn't need to eat meat. :D
10-31-2006, 02:09 PM
Superman's continuity on eating meat is a little screwy. It's been indicated in the past that he doesn't eat meat as an ethical thing, but it's also been indicated that his favorite meal is beef burgionon.
Me, I'm thinking that someone raised on a farm in Kansas is probably a meat-eater.
10-31-2006, 02:16 PM
According to Superman: Birthright, Clark's a vegerarian.
10-31-2006, 02:16 PM
The context of the quote in Birthright was that Pa Kent was surprised when Supes told him he was a vegetarian, so he wasn't raised that way, and didn't become one until later in life. And I don't think it existed before Birthright, and I guess it's sort of dubious as to how much that is in continuity.
Ben [who is apparently a Vegan in the religious sense of the word]
10-31-2006, 02:18 PM
It makes absolutely no sense that Superman or Batman would eat meat. But most writers don't really know enough vegetarianism/veganism to see the problem.
10-31-2006, 02:18 PM
I'm not sure it exists outside of Birthright. Didn't Clark and Lois have steak in one of the recent Busiek Superman comics?
10-31-2006, 02:19 PM
Busiek was probably following the "write what you know" philosophy.
10-31-2006, 02:21 PM
re: "It makes absolutely no sense that Superman or Batman would eat meat. But most writers don't really know enough vegetarianism/veganism to see the problem."
You didn't even know Superman was supposed to be a vegetarian until I told you! Look, we get that you don't meat anymore, but you don't have to campaign for Mr. Vegan America 2006.
10-31-2006, 02:23 PM
No, I think I asked about it on this or another board before I ever talked about it with you.
10-31-2006, 02:29 PM
OK. Supes is a meat-eater until something in continuity disproves it. I mean, if we're going off of non-canonical sources, didn't he order a meat dish at the end of Kingdom Come? I know he had some milk, though I have no idea of that's allowable under vegan philosophy - it would seem to run counter, as it's produced through what could be construed as animal cruelty [in the minds of Vegans]...
From: "New Christian JLA member" forum discussion, started 5 May 2005 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000023085; viewed 15 May 2006):
Posted: May 5, 2005 7:53 PM
I propose DC adds a new superhero to the JLA. His name is Shepard [Shepherd] and he fights injustice and evil in a Christian way.
His powers would essentially be a the addition of the powers of Firestorm and Superman.
While the JLA fights to protect earth from alien threats, Shepard's focus would be to protect innocents such as unborn children.
What does everyone think?
Posted: May 6, 2005 9:49 AM
Since nearly the entire DCU is written under the presumptions of Christianity anyway, why do you need a figure head? Don't most people presume Superman is Christian? Even if most of the JLA are not Christian, do they not highlight the most positive ideals of Christianity already? I think none of the JLA should have open and identifiable religions because all it will do is alienate people. The exception would be of course Wonder Woman, but the "gods" are entirely entwined with her character.
Posted: May 13, 2005 10:54 AM
SENSORSNAKE IS A MORON! What else is there to say. Never mix comic book geeks (myself included) and religion. I mean after all Superman is Jewish.
From: "Barry Allen is Jewish?" forum discussion, started 13 May 2005 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-4308.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
Heatwave the Rogue
May 15th, 2005, 07:44 AM
...I would rather comic companies take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy about religion.
May 15th, 2005, 10:59 AM
I think don't ask don't tell is for the birds. I mean, no, I don't want some kind of sermon every time I pick up a comic, but if you were a writer trying to flesh out a character sooner or later you'd have to come up against his or her spiritual beliefs. They can make for great stories.
I mean, for example, what does Superman believe? He was clearly raised by a typical midwest, Christian family. Yet as an adult, he learned about his hertiage and from time to time (when writer who cannot handle good dialogue get their claws on him, like Bryne) he spouts stuff like "By Rao!" - a religious invocation if I ever read one. Batman has said more than once, ususaly when talking to Lesile Tompkins, that he "lost" whatever faith he might have had the night his parents died. Yet we also know he has extensive Zen training during his travels as a young man.
If you are going to write stories that are beyond mere kiddy stories about men in tights, religion will enter it at some point...
And really, if you think about it, many characters have religious or quasi-religious elements to them, its just that many readers choose to ignore it. Superman is a sort of Christ figure. Capt. Marvel and Black Adam's powers are based on ancient religions in Greece and Eygpt. Dr. Fate and most other mystical characters are rooted in pagan believes. Mantiou Raven loosely represents Native American faith. Wonder Woman, in fact, rests on the assumption that the Greek gods are real. There is Thor, taken right from Norse religion, and J'onn J'onz often prays to his alien gods. And Spectre is inspired by old school wrath of god stuff from the Old Testament...
From: "Possible writers' cliche/prejudice: No well-adjusted athiests/agnostics in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 26 May 2005 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-5064.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
May 31st, 2005, 11:03 AM
Religion is almost always brought up as a vehicle for some kind of struggle. Otherwise, it's usually left alone. It certainly works both ways. Superman and Father Leonne sat around talking about their dissappearing faith several times during the lengthy "For Tomorrow" arc. There was no turnaround (sudden or otherwise) there. In JLA: Classified, Mary Marvel was constantly shown as naive and dogmatic largely because her faith. Recently, Hal declared that God must be cruel and vindictive as he distanced himself from the Spectre.
Besides, while it is a fact that some sort of belief in the divine is only sensible in the DCU, those convictions almost always show up in the form of "theistic humanism", for lack of a better term. All it really means is that 95% of the heroes stick to universal principles found in nearly all religions and in secular lines of thought, like "love your fellow man".
June 1st, 2005, 02:11 PM
If you look at a character like Batman, you kind of get the idea that he would maybe have have gone to church when he was little because he came from a well-off family who probably did it out of tradition more than anything. Azzarello's Broken City showed you he's not an atheist when he makes the comment about "if there is a God he cries on Gotham" or something to that effect. I'm a born-again believer, so when I read something like Superman: For All Seasons where in the very beginning Clark talks to a local priest about his powers or something it kind of gives you an idea that his family goes to church. I even think Jerry Siegel, being Jewish, knew that if he made his character a Midwestern farmboy the religion he would most be identified with would be Christianity. This was given to the characters to make them more interesting instead of Batman being like "I hate God waaaahhhhh!" every time something goes bad. Batman now doesn't have that mentality anymore because he may have a little religious base, instead of just being an atheist because he's never been to church.
From: "Superman is Jewish in origin" forum discussion, started 15 September 2005 on the KryptonSite.com website (http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=41222; viewed 5 June 2006):
09-15-2005 08:38 PM
Superman is Jewish in origin.
The original creators of Superman in the old, old days were two Jewish guys who used to get picked on a lot as children for being Jewish.
Apparently, they got the idea of Superman (slightly, not largely) from the myth of the golem, the mythical creature who protected Jews from persecution.
They didn't set out to make Superman Jewish, of course, but there are some subtle in-roads that they wanted many Jewish kids to identify with.
Superman is the last of his race. He is, technically, a refugee in a foreign land. He grows up feeling like an outsider. As a joke, I just want to mention that he comes from a highly intelligent race as well.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, a novel (which won the Pulitzer Prize) goes into this.
It's kind of interesting.
09-16-2005 12:36 AM
If you research the history of Superman, he is very much a Jewish creation. The Golem facet is part of it, although there are many parallels between Superman's story and the story of Moshe (Moses) found in the Bible.
The Clark Kent persona also reflects Jerry's and Joe's own identity as the "everyman," someone who is average and not particularly heroic. Clark also has a hard time around women, a problem to which any teenage male can relate. They tapped into their own longing to be something greater by having Superman be the alter-ego of the "mild-mannered" Clark Kent. Superman is not only the defender of the weak. He's also a very popular man. Every man in town wants to be him. Every woman in town wants to marry him. It's an escapist fantasy that taps into the longing of young children, particularly young boys. It's also one of the reasons why Superman was such a huge success.
As for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, I had the chance to read that novel recently. Although there is one plot twist that I don't really think is necessary, overall I found the novel to be engaging and entertaining. I very much enjoyed Michael Chabon's writing style, and as a comic book fan, I loved the references to the Golden Age.
09-16-2005 02:39 PM
Wooooooow. I never new that Superman was created for that reason. Boruch hashem for them!
09-16-2005 04:56 PM
I forgot to mention the fact that Joe and Jerry were the children of Jewish immigrants. This gave them a sort of duel identity and a status as outsiders. You can clearly see this in Clark Kent, as well as in Superman. He is, after all, an immigrant.
09-16-2005 06:45 PM
So Superman is the reflection persona of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster?
I guess that, when they first created the Man of Steel, they didn't knew what they were making: A legend...
09-17-2005 10:35 PM
Superman was Protestant. Check out the old old comics. They never specified what faith exactly but there is at least one comic with him going to services. I found this out in Wizard Magazine.
09-17-2005 10:43 PM
Can you please find out which comic that is, because I'd be very interested to know. The only time I remember him going to church is when he got married in Superman: The Wedding Album. It appeared like an Anglican church to me. I say this because I think I recall that the minister wore the garb of an Anglican or Catholic priest, but since there were no signs in the church indicating it was Catholic, I just assumed it was Anglican. I know there are a few other Protestant denominations where the pastor wears a priest's garb (I'm sorry, I can't remember the name of the clothing now, but it's the white collar), especially for certain occasions.
If you look way back in the Golden Age, though, I doubt you'll find any specific references to Christianity. Jerry and Joe were both Jewish. Not that it wouldn't be logical to assume that Clark was raised as a Christian, given that he grew up in Kansas.
09-18-2005 01:27 AM
re: "Superman was Protestant. Check out the old old comics..."
Oh, [expletive] off you anti-semite. Superman doesn't have a religion. And he's definitely not Christian with all the intergalactic stuff he's been exposed to.
Not to mention that one of his good friends is linked to the ancient Greek gods.
09-18-2005 01:38 AM
re: "...you anti-semite..."
Watch your mouth, I'm not anti-Jew. Read your history, I'm just quoting Wizard Magazine. If you have to know, Jewish people are God's chosen people so I won't say a bad thing about it. I'm just quoting fact.
re: "Can you please find out which comic that is..."
I'll have to check my Wizard magazines. And you're right, it was a special that wasn't included into the main titles which is why it's a bit more obscure. But yeah, they never made it a point because it really doesn't matter. Superman is a good guy. But I'll look into it for you.
09-18-2005 01:39 AM
I don't think someone's an anti-semite because he/she referred to one panel of Superman doing some Protestant thing. I could be wrong, but probably not.
Superman is very much a creation of his writers and handlers. In the Golden and Silver ages, that would be Siegel, and Weisenger. Later, Maggin and Waid seemed to incorporate Christian themes into their work. For example, CW Saturn is a nemesis based on Satan, who only certain groups of Christians believe in.
But Julius Schwartz was editor at the time. Lots of good Jews to choose from! And not only Jews... John Byrne's primary religion is John Byrne, and Alan Moore now believes that all religious stories are true, but was an atheist when he wrote his first Superman stories. Hooray diversity!
09-20-2005 03:33 PM
Woah, your mouth! I'm Jewish and i even know he was not being an anti-semite. He was simply stating that he noticed something from somewhere else. When he saw your post, he then thought he saw something different somewhere else so he was just saying what he saw. No need to go ballistic. If he was an anti-semite would say something bad about you, which he did not.
09-18-2005 01:54 PM
I always thought Superman was a Raoist, or at least the pre-crisis version was. Wasn't Rao the God of Krypton or something?
Yeah, post-crisis I'm quite certain He'd be a Protestant of some kind and Linda Danvers of course is a Methodist.
But you are right, CK, There are a great many parallels with Superman and Moses, and there is no doubt in my mind that Superman's creators originally intended him to be a Moses-like figure.
09-18-2005 02:46 PM
Well spoken, in Kingdom Come that was part of the influence.
09-18-2005 11:33 PM
I'm just starting to read an excellent book on this - or around this topic. "Men of Tomorrow", about the creators of Superman, and their immigrant story. Super stuff, recommend it to anyone.
09-19-2005 03:16 AM
You know, Lex probably isn't convinced that there is a God. But it makes sense that CK [Clark Kent] was Protestant given his upbringing. Another reason for the two to clash. They adhere to a different sets of morals. CK's are more in line with a slightly conservative background while Lex adheres to the Luthor set.
09-19-2005 06:00 PM
I can't believe how few people knew that his creators were Jews. Heck, the whole comic industry is DOMINATED by them.
I'm sure Superman's folks gave him a Judeo-Christian upbringing but, yeah the Kryptonians were sun worshipers of a sort.
Being a sort of a god himself, I still think he's got a very humble spirituality, regardless of his intergalactic exploits. Hey, that's just part of what makes him super.
Now Lex? THERE'S a guy who swears up and down that he's God!
09-19-2005 10:14 PM
re: "They adhere to a different sets of morals. CK's are more in line with a slightly conservative background while Lex adheres to the Luthor set"
Er... guess it depends how you define "conservative." Lex is definitely the conservative, business type, whereas Clark can see an aura around all living things, farms, and is a minority. Plus, that whole Superman philosophy of his, his "champion of the oppressed" Jewish creation, and his mission for President Kennedy make him a really bad conservative.
Usually characters like Superman and Green Arrow would be put into a category of characters with a more liberal philosophy. (Superman refuses to kill anyone, after all.) Conservative characters would be Batman, the Watchmen, etc. That's why Batman and Superman are such good opposites.
But enough political science for today. What did I just do?
09-19-2005 11:19 PM
I was implying socially [conservative]. I don't think any characters outside of Green Arrow care about politics, because all politicians are the same on the inside. I know that his creators were Jewish too but that's not what they were trying to accomplish. They wanted a hero who stood up for the American way of life, and being in 1930's America, knew it would never sell if he was anything but Protestant. But Superman's ideals are bigger than any label. But he was a farmer and farmers tend to be conservative politically. I'm from the Midwest and they are all Republican. You know, pro-life and Lower Taxes. The important thing is that Superman values all life regardless of politics.
09-20-2005 12:10 AM
As far as Joe and Jerry creating a Protestant character, I still haven't seen any concrete evidence that this is the case. I don't think his religious upbringing is specified, although in the political and cultural climate of the 1930s and 1940s it would not have been accepted to have an overtly Jewish character promoting American ideals. Anti-semitism was far more widespread in those days...
As for Kansas, you might find it surprising that Kansas was once a bastion of relatively liberal populism. Kansans have not always been as conservative as they are today.
These labels "conservative" and "liberal" are defined in strange ways, in my opinion. Personally, I'm "conservative" on the issues of abortion and homosexuality, but "liberal" on most other issues, like economics, foreign policy, etc. We always have to be careful when we box people into certain generic molds, because there are always deviations.
09-20-2005 01:28 PM
You would have to be a Conservative in order to be a vigilante. The problem is all comic book writers are Liberals (at least today), so they don't understand this.
...I believe [Superman: A Man] For All Seasons is the comic that shows Clark being raised Protestant.
Anyway, and about someone's comment on Luthor... If you think him being a billionaire must make him Conservative I suggest you look at Ted Turner.
09-21-2005 06:33 PM
Many people, many times have described the connection between the story of Superman and Jewish traditions.
Here's a couple more:
Superman: Man of Shetl
HOW THE JEWS CREATED THE COMIC BOOK INDUSTRY
Part I: The Golden Age (1933-1955)
Here's some more interesting trivia:
Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster not as a hero, but as a villain. Their short story "The Reign of the Superman" concerned a bald-headed villain bent on dominating the world. The story did not sell, forcing the two to reposition their character on the right side of the law. In 1935, their Superman story was again rejected by newspaper syndicates wanting to avoid lawsuits, who recognized the character as being a slightly altered Hugo Danner, the lead character from Philip Wylie's 1930 novel Gladiator. An upstart publishing company, DC Comics printed another of their creations, Dr. Occult, who made his first appearance in New Fun Comics #6, October 1935. DC decided to take a chance with Superman, figuring if any lawsuits were filed, they would just drop the feature.
The revised Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1, June 1938. Siegel and Shuster sold the rights to the company for $130 and 3 free nights at a popular New York brothel. The Saturday Evening Post reported in 1941 that the pair was being paid $75,000 each per year, still a fraction of DC's Superman profits. In 1946, when Siegel and Shuster sued for more money, DC fired them, prompting a legal battle that ended in 1948, when they accepted $200,000 and signed away any further claim to Superman or any character created from him. DC soon took Siegel's and Shuster's names off the byline.
09-21-2005 09:59 PM
...[Superman] can't be vocal about his feelings as Superman because people view him as a god. He knows that if he were to start speaking his personal beliefs people would either live by it or chastise him. That's not what Superman wants, he wants to be one of us not above us. Plus, he is not a minister. But check out Jim Lee's Superman run: [Superman] clearly believes in God and realizes that his greatest sin was playing god, even if that wasn't his intention.
09-22-2005 11:59 PM
In the latest story by Azzarello and Lee, Superman admits that his greatest sin was trying to save the world. I feel he was saying that that was God's job and not his. He is after all a man. The story was seen through the eyes of a priest who was dying from cancer.
09-27-2005 01:37 PM
...in the Supergirl Saga Superman did the (in his opinion) unpardonable sin of killing 3 people. Now mind you, the people Superman killed were mass murdering Kryptonians much more powerful then him that had just destroyed All life in the universe save him and Supergirl while threatening to do the same to Earth, But to Superman killing is killing.
He felt so guilty about this that he went on a pilgrimage through space trying to find absolution for his sin.
In my opinion, it is Superman's one great regret in his life. Yeah, the trying to take over the world thing was bad, but he was mind-controlled at the time. For the killing, Superman CHOSE to Kill, and to a certain extant it still haunts him to this day.
09-27-2005 02:26 PM
If you discount the late eighties and early nineties, the oddball in Superman history, Superman has always been seen as a righteous man. Mark Waid refers to his "super morality," Elliot Maggin wrote an entire novel about Superman battling the Devil, and Siegel always wanted Superman to be a role model...and he is. We even consider Christopher Reeve a role model, because he played Superman in some movies.
Superman is inherently good, perhaps unlike Earthlings. But that doesn't mean that he doesn't occasionally need grace. Alan Moore's Superman stories are full of this concept: at one point, Superman could not have made it without the help of Swamp Thing. In "the last Superman story" when he committed, um, imp-slaughter, he retired.
Superman needing help was the backbone of World's Finest Comics, and he was prone to moral failures and oversights, as in Elliot Maggin's "Must There be a Superman?" It is interesting to note, however, that when he finally married Lois, in "Superman Takes a Wife," that the wedding ceremony was conducted in the name of Rao.
What Rao represents is another discussion altogether.
09-27-2005 11:30 PM
The great thing about Superman's morality is that it is inherent to his character. It's not a put-on, and its never self-righteousness. He simply is what he is: a moral force in a world of immorality. It is no mistake that the morality he espouses, at least in large part, can be derived from the outlines of the Hebraic moral code found in the Torah.
As for Rao, I've always found his presence in Superman comics as off-putting and strange. I can see Rao in the context of Kryptonians who grew up on Krypton and identify as Kryptonians, but the Byrne Superman identifies with human beings first. This has started to change in a limited sense with Birthright, but it's still mostly in place.
Personally, I hated the recent re-introduction of the phrase "Great Rao!" I can't remember if that was Siegel, but perhaps someone can check on that for me. Anyway, as I've indicated above, it just seemed way out of character for Superman. Beyond that, Byrne Kryptonians ceased Rao worship long ago. I'm not quite sure about Birthright Kryptonians, but they seem similarly science-oriented, throwing out the sun-worshipping cult of Rao. I'd like to see more development of the post-Birthright Kryptonian backstory in order to explain this ambiguity and many other unanswered questions.
09-28-2005 01:53 AM
Byrne is over. Nobody has really cared about the Byrne Superman since Kingdom Come. I think Birthright had a baby in a ship, instead of an embryo, which would be different in that he would have had at least some early exposure to Krypton.
From: Clark Goble, "Unpractical Ethics: Superheroes", posted 11 October 2005 on the Millennial Star blog website (http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/10/11/unpractical_ethics_superheros; viewed 5 June 2007):
[This site features discussion on topics relating to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]
Even as comics have sort of become marginalized again, superheroes have experienced a renaissance the last five years or so. It seems every year brings two or three big budgeted superhero films. Admittedly most aren't terribly good. But while I've not read comics for quite some time, I do enjoy the Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman pictures. I have to confess I'm eagerly awaiting the forthcoming rebirth of Superman by X-Men's Bryan Singer. (And dreading Brett Ratner taking over X-Men). Anyway, I thought for a change of pace rather than doing a "practical ethics" I'd do the opposite. The most unpractical ethics of all: analyzing superheroes.
Now I know at least one person is preparing a post on an other blog taking exception to some of my views. And I'll further confess that with a few exceptions while reading graphic novels at Borders, I've really not read comics since the early 80's when I was a kid. Since comics are re-invented a lot, things may have changed. But here's my views.
Superman. Superman is the most interesting of the superheroes for Mormons. In a way he's sort of the ideal Mormon view of a superhero. He's for self reliance, justice, and has a strong sense of moral conviction. In many ways he's the opposite of Batman, working purely within the system. (This was played up a lot in the graphic novel The Dark Night Returns back in the 80's by Frank Miller) Superman, no matter how hard he tries to be in the world never is of the world. It's hard to find too many ethical issues with Superman, although I think all of us are uncomfortable with the sex added in by some producers. (Such as his hooking up with Lois Lane in Superman II or the recent hook up with Lana in Smallville)
Comment from: Ivan Wolfe - http://inmediasrays.blogspot.com
10/11/05 - 18:45
I say this as one who loves and still reads comics (check out my blog, which I need to update):
Most superhero comics are about adolescent angst. There are exceptions: Kurt Busiek's Astro City takes the idea of heroes to realms no one else has, making superheroics stand-ins for family conflicts, post-modern concepts of the truth and the responsibility of the news media.
Alan Moore, on the other hand, sees heroes as much more deadly. Watchmen is his prime example, with one hero so out of control, he murders thousands of New Yorkers to ensure world peace. However, his other works deal with the same thing. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (not the movie - the much superior comics) main thesis could be said that there are no real differences between our heroes and our monsters. Even Tom Strong which seems to be a nice tale about a family friendly super-hero is really about how hero worship leads to fascism - even if the fascist is a nice guy with the best of intentions.
But overall, super hero books are, by and large, about adolescent angst. That's why the Punisher is so popular.
In the comics, at least, Superman married Lois Lane first (there were some hints by some writers, but the editors wanted the relationship to appear fairly pure until they got married) - the movie makers and TV show makers have no idea that Superman was popular because he's the ultimate Boy Scout (in the comics he actually was a Boy Scout. In Identity Crisis he identifies a certain knot before Batman does, and Batman seems shocked Supes figured something out before he did, but then he mutters "oh, yeah - Boy Scout" under his breath) and will always hold himself to the highest standards.
Heroes in general, though are problematic. Even squeaky clean Superman is on some level, a vigilante working outside the system.
As for the Spider-man comment, you should read the new Sentry comic by Marvel (not the older one from a few years ago, although that's a good one as well). The main character is basically Marvel's Superman, and he has a computer that assesses problems throughout the world and tells the Sentry when and where to go. Sometimes he has to balance a bank robbery in New York with a tsunami in Alaska with genocide in Africa - he goes to whichever one he can do the most good. Of course, his marriage is suffering, since he spends all his time saving the world, and no time on his personal life. An interesting read.
Comment from: DKL
10/11/05 - 19:09
I see Spider-Man as the ultimate Mormon. By definition, there can only ever be one Superman (and good call on Astro City, Ivan; I think that Busiek's Samaritan is actually the best Superman story told--Frank Miller's Superman story is a Batman story with Superman as a guest star). Spider-Man represents all of us. He's the underdog that is always in over his head. Even if we can't swing from building to building, we can all make a difference the way that Spider-Man does. Not only that, but Spider-Man sets an example (let's his light so shine...) while Peter Parker remains anonymous (waiting for his reward in the hereafter).
Batman is the most extreme super hero. Being a super hero requires one to be a vigilante in some sense, and therefore to assume a moral authority in one's own right outside of the authority structures of society and culture. Batman, therefore, is Joseph Smith with a family fortune.
As far as the X-Men, I've only read it sporadically. I think that the Danites is a good comparison.
Ivan, I disagree with your reading of Moore's The Watchmen. Superheroes everywhere live out the fantasies of mere mortals. In The Watchmen, Moore just picks fantasies that are more realistic (and less ideal) than comic book writers had hitherto chosen. I believe that your right about League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, where Moore makes mere mortals out of heroes. I believe that this represents the thematic continuity between the The Watchmen and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Comment from: Clark Goble
10/12/05 - 01:41
Alan Moore's Watchmen is very interesting precisely because of how it analyzes superheroes. I only read it a few years ago when a roommate had it. What's weird about it is that the main guy who kills thousands of people faking an alien invasion so as to produce world peace is hard to argue with. Did the ends justify the means? That whole bit with Nephi and Laban came immediately to mind. It was particularly disturbing because of that.
I've often wondered just about that sort of thinking and I think superheroes ought bring it ought. Yet the demands of the comics deny this. Look at what comic books require. You have these near God-like characters but you have the requirement that they don't really change the world that much. Yet what effect would Superman have on the world? Consider having that level of power prior to the invasion of Iraq. What should Superman have done? Should he have captured Sadaam Hussein for the US? How should Superman react to the Third World? In the comics almost of necessity he spends his time curing the relatively few ills in the US. If it weren't for super-villains he'd be almost unnecessary. Yet what about the Third World? What about wars? Alan Moore deals with that with the nearly Superman like character. (Actually, if anything, more super than Superman - having a kind of omniscience)
There are all sorts of ethical dilemmas raised. If you had that much power, but simultaneously believed in the plan of salvation and thought that some evils were necessary, how should you act? Should you keep your secret powers secret? i.e. act from the shadows? Sort of how some Mormons see the Three Nephites and John? (Are they the Mormon equivalents of Superheroes?) Or if you had that power ought you reshape the world? Or do you proclaim peace but limit your activities to one land, much as Enoch apparently did.
As I said, I think there are really interesting questions here. If Superheroes - especially the more powerful ones - are basically like limited Gods, how should they be acting from a Mormon point of view? Moore in effect fears them because of a kind of fascism. I think the Mormon view is a similar one. In a very real sense we don't want Zion to be given. It has to be earned. But is that just?
Comment from: Sarah
10/12/05 - 09:52
I was semi-seriously considering entering the Comic Arts Conference (held in conjunction with Comic-Con International) on a similar theme (trying to compare the ethical systems various superheroes espouse/act within -- perhaps asking "how much worse would things have to get in modern America before the average citizen would tolerate a masked/hooded vigilante solving crimes for free, without criminal charges being pressed against him" type questions. Fun stuff.
Personally, I'd be alarmed and concerned about superheroes going around, acting they way they do. It's very much a "I see the Truth, I will set you all Free!" thing... I have a feeling Superman wouldn't take kindly to a "dude, okay, you're doing good works and all that, but could we please work out our own salvation without you trying to rescue us all the time?" discussion.
Comment from: Charles - http://job21-3.blogspot.com
10/12/05 - 11:00
It seems to me that Marvel was one of the first to really start portraying its heroes as human with real problems. Spider-Man is a great parallel to Mormon culture and responsibility. He knows he has a responsibility to family and still tries to temper his powers with his social responsibilities. I've never read the Fantastic Four, but I'm under the impression that in the comics they have similar problems as everyone knows who each one is, they don't really have hidden identities.
Superman is another great example. I liked the idea about living in the world but not being of it. However, most of the storylines are pretty weak as to why he does what he does. The two best are from Smallville, where he feels responsible for causing so many problems when he crashed on Earth and the second is from the book I mentioned earlier where Superman has a deep sense of wanting to belong in a world where he is different. These are pretty selfish reasons, but because of his ethics and the way he uses his powers he gains a strong following.
Batman is the most real. He has no powers other than a keen intellect and a super bank account. He made a choice to do good and go after those that were above the law. In a way he is taking his cue from the constitution, where it states that we have a moral duty when the government fails to take up our own arms (don't turn this all legal, its just an observation and a way that it fits into the Batman universe).
Batman is my favorite, not because he has any powers, but because he doesn't. He only has his devotion.
Unfortunately not many comics deal with religion. Daredevil is a Catholic, but not a very active practicing one. Spawn deals with redemption but doesn't really look at religion in the traditional sense, it seems to hang on the Dante view of hell and the magical properties of the spirit world, where demons have physical bodies and unique abilities. Its not so much about faith, but redemption - but redemption in who's eyes?
The X-men comparison is interesting.
Its interesting to see that people try to find the values that they themselves hold dear in popular culture. We try to see the Mormon Parallels in characters that are decidedly un-Mormon. I think everyone has that same sense of belonging and this is one way we manifest it, to claim someone as our own, or see how they could, if only the writers would put pen to page and tell us the personal faith driven stories that never make it onto the panels in the comic books.
From: "Increasing comic circulation through different perspectives" forum discussion, started 30 November 2005 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-15542.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
November 30th, 2005, 03:34 AM
In the last few days, since the thread on "Liberality for all" I have been pondering a number of separate, yet to me, related issues affecting the comic industry in the USA. Among these are the long term trend of declining sales among mainstream comics, the ideological monopoly that liberals hold on the comics industry on the creative side, and the severe lack of credible, and more to the point admirable comics characters with a more conservative outlook. While I don't subscribe to the idea of a "vast left-wing conspiracy" in comics it is impossible to deny that most of those involved in the business of comics on the creative side are firmly and proudly liberal, and that while for the most part, politics comes up only tangentially in comics most Superheroes do seem to be of a liberal mindset.
I think that in the interest of honesty, we must at least examine the idea that perhaps the overwhelming presence of more liberal creators, when contrasted with the fact that the majority of Americans fall slightly more to the right of the political spectrum than left may be in some way related to the long term trend of declining sales... So could the creation or emphasis of characters as conservatives, open the industry to new readers?
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 08:50 AM
I consider myself an independent with strong liberal leanings. I love the state of the comic industry and the characters and writer's leanings to this direction.
That all being said, I would gladly read characters with a more accurate conservative viewpoint. Ultimate Captain America is a character that so far I have considered a very traditional conservative. Old school 1940's conservatism might be a more accurate description of the character and he's one of my favorite characters to read about. I'd love to see this character get into a political debate with Ollie (Green Arrow) and watch the sparks fly on in both the dialogue and on panel drawings. My favorite characters, the Flash family, tend to lean more conservative and I openly embrace this as part of their philosophies and mannerisms.
Religion, on the other hand, I feel should be kept as vague as possible. Where a Christian might be repulsed to find out that Superman is really an atheist, an atheist might be repulsed to find out that he's really a devout Christian, Jew, or other religion. Keeping the characters religious leanings more vague is more appealing to me personally. I'm not saying that religion should never play the part in a story, I just don't think that I want it ever declared that Captain America is Muslim because his current writer happens to be of that belief or that Spider-Man is atheist because his current writer decides to force that down our throats...
November 30th, 2005, 09:00 AM
I understand where you are coming from, Heatwave, but I have to disagree. The simple fact is, for the vast majority of people on this planet, God is an accepted reality.
To me, to have every hero in the Marvel/DC universe, even those with religious origins (such as Ragman) to not be affected, motivated, or even visibly believe in those beliefs, lessens the characters.
I agree that the characters religion should not be arbitrarily decided, but given his background, upbringing, and history, I think its a safe bet that Superman is some sort of Protestant, even if non-practicing.
Similarly, Ragman who based on his origins is definitively Jewish has never to my knowledge gone to a synagogue. (He very well could have. I am not terribly familiar with his character.)
In addition, I think that the inclusion of a character's religion and the issues it brings up can definitely enrich a character. As an example, Nightcrawler's Catholic (I think it's Catholic) has IMO [in my opinion] at least given him more of a personality.
In addition, there are many characters who in fact are religious, it's just none of them are mainstream religious. We get Wiccans, Druids, pagans, etc. But very few Christians, Jews or Muslims. Even the Buddhists are better represented in comics than the Big Three.
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 09:09 AM
I think that the "heroes" of comic book literature should be showed respecting ALL religious practice. The heroes we read about should be above us in this regard. I would also never expect to see Superman look down on someone who doesn't believe in God. I feel more strongly about this with the more iconic Superheroes (Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, etc..), but I am very open to religious declarations from lesser characters like Nightcrawler, Nova, Ragman, Catman, or Animal Man.
November 30th, 2005, 09:18 AM
I agree that the superheroes shouldn't look down on some one because they believe differently, Heatwave, but I don't see how them having beliefs of their own would lead to that. If anything, Geoff's recent issue of JSA in which Mr Terrific, and Dr Midnite, discuss Mr Terrific's atheism, is a near perfect example of how I would want heroes' beliefs portrayed. Dr Midnite began the discussion with Mr Terrific out of compassion, and Mr Terrific recognized it as such, and neither judged the other...
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 09:22 AM
The Mr Terrific character story was a very good one in my opinion, and an excellent example to support your case.
However, ask yourself this:
Would that story have worked just as well if the character had been Superman instead of Mr. Terriific. And what if he had decided that there ultimately was no God at the end of the story? Would you still feel the same?
November 30th, 2005, 09:28 AM
To answer your questions:
1) yes I think it would have been even more effective actually.
2) Yes I would have, if Superman feels there is no God, that is his belief.
(although since he [Superman] actually met him [God] in the "Sword of Superman' story, I doubt it would happen) ;)
Heatwave the Rogue
November 30th, 2005, 09:41 AM
Fair enough. Do you think most fans would share in this with such openness?
If Superman met God, he has one up on the rest of us since faith is no longer an issue for him. :) ;)
November 30th, 2005, 09:47 AM
Yes actually I do. And if it did cause some outrage and controversy, well, is that necessarily a bad thing?
November 30th, 2005, 09:55 AM
I think the religious issue is particularly tough to write in with regards to the main stream religions in that Heaven and Hell actually exist for sure in the DCU and Marvel universes.
We have seen characters in Heaven and return, we have seen demons from hell. Heck, most comic book heroes have actually fought the legions of Hell. Having faith when you're standing beside an Angel who is hitting on Wonder Woman is kind of like having faith in gravity. It's the classic Douglas Adams joke with the babble fish.
November 30th, 2005, 10:01 AM
But to me, that makes it even more ridiculous that none of them are [visibly religious].
How can anybody who worked with Zauriel say they don't believe in god at the least, much less God?
Look at the Spectre, who we know is the spirit of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God's wrath?
I mean, when you have met his servants, and know there's both a Heaven and a Hell, how do you justify not going to some form of service, or at least praying when the spit hits the fan? (as the Atom did in IDC [Identity Crisis])
If anything, the Atom's prayer makes the lack of such things [on a more regular basis] more apparent.
November 30th, 2005, 10:13 AM
Because it becomes more like using your communicator then praying, which can be viewed as marginalizing real prayers. As I understand Prayer it shouldn't be about calling God in to solve your problems. It's a matter of faith communicating with him, speaking to him and taking up your burden as a part of his plan. I think it would diminish things if Superman was praying to God so that they can get Spectre to intervene.
"Hail Mary, full of grace, please page Spectre and Zaurel. Darksied is attacking."
November 30th, 2005, 10:23 AM
Conner that last line made me laugh out loud.
I have a very different view of prayer than most. I feel it's somewhat blasphemous to pray for things. I figure if he wants you to have it, there's no need to ask, and if he doesn't, then you're essentially asking him to change his plans. But I do see where you're coming from.
But even in the DCU, where God's servants are visible, he [God] is still a mystery. Unlike, say, the Greek Gods, who many heroes have met, and gotten drunk with, The God of Abraham is a mystery. I wouldn't want it any other way. My point isn't so much about making God more visible, as making their struggles with the concept of him, and their views of him a more visible part of their character.
Not in an overt preachy way, but in the same way that Superman's Midwest upbringing influences how he behaves.
November 30th, 2005, 10:23 AM
No problem. Thanks for clarifying! Me, I'll just be thankful if Superman doesn't go up against the Gorebots [i.e., fanatical Environmentalist robots sent by former Vice-President Al Gore] or if Ann Coulter doesn't become the new Spectre.
November 30th, 2005, 11:55 AM
...And aside from these rare, overt (and often clumsy) efforts at politics, I find superhero comics to be much more conservative than you do. I don't think it is a conscious choice largely out of tradition and perhaps fear of controversy. I don't think the majority of villains are shown to be victims of society or poverty. Superhero comics absolutely recognize the concept of evil AND they recognize that the use of force is necessary to combat evil. I find it interesting that Wonder Woman is often thought of as a character that embodies liberal values (and on the social side that may be true), but when you get right down to it her whole promote peace/warrior angle is a page right out of Ronald Reagan ("peace through strength").
It is also worth noting that superheroes tend to embody the very conservative value of respecting social structures including the market economy - despite what inequities may result therefrom. And that is true of characters that should have no reason to be invested in that status quo (like Aquaman or Martian Manhunter). I think that stands in contrast with what you saw in some of the Golden Age comics. Superman's earliest adventures were not against super-villains but against corrupt businessmen. Those stories were very much a product of their times - late in the Depression era when it was widely believed that the greed of the few had resulted in the deep suffering of the many.
Also, by and large, the main heroes in the DCU tend to lead chaste lives (sometimes to the point of absurdity). This tends to be more true in DC than Marvel and there are exceptions (i.e. anything written by Judd Winick)...
November 30th, 2005, 12:25 PM
I read Green Lantern: The Power of Ion last night. It was pretty good, especially for all of the character bits. The thing that struck me, though, was how thoroughly conservative its message was. And that was coming from Winick of all people.
I guess I'd better warn of spoilers for the Power of Ion storyline since some people are picking it up for the first time with the announcement of the new Ion book. Basically, Kyle gets these godlike powers that allow him to be everywhere at once solving problems. That's exactly what he does. Towards the end, Superman takes him aside and explains that you have to solve some problems, sure, but you also have to let people live their lives and deal with things themselves. Kyle agreed and relinquished the powers. If that's not a core conservative message, I don't know what is. And Kyle wasn't even asking for more taxes to do the work he was doing. :)
So, while I agree that the industry in general is left-leaning but those messages are out there if you watch for them.
November 30th, 2005, 12:28 PM
I thought Supes [Superman] believed in Rao.
November 30th, 2005, 12:33 PM
"Superman (Clark Kent/Kal-El) - raised Protestant (in some versions prior to 1986, he worshipped Kryptonian god Rao, which was explicitly addressed beginning in mid-1980s)"
From: "TS: Liberality For All vs. DMZ" forum discussion, started 30 November 2005 on the ilx.wh3rd.net website (http://ilx.wh3rd.net/thread.php?msgid=6419391; viewed 13 June 2006):
Huk-L (handsomishbo...), November 30th, 2005
The simple fact is, for the vast majority of people on this planet, God is an accepted reality.
To me, to have every hero in the Marvel/DC universe, even those with religious origins (such as Ragman) to not be affected, motivated, or even visibly believe in those beliefs, lessens the characters.
I agree that the character's religion should not be arbitrarily decided, but given his background, upbringing, and history, I think it's a safe bet that Superman is some sort of Protestant, even if non-practicing...
From: "Need Help With A Research Project" forum discussion, started 9 December 2005 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-16070.html; viewed 6 August 2007):
December 9th, 2005, 02:29 PM
I'm a Teaching Assistant at a major college and I am doing some research for a book being written by the professor I work for with the working title Modern Morality Plays: The Religion of Comics.
Essentially, the book will discuss how comics have become the primary form or morality storytelling much in the way that Bible studies were in the past.
One of my students suggested I come here and ask a few questions, as this forum is reportedly quite active.
If you wish to participate, please provide the following:
And answer the following questions:
1. Do you feel that comics reflect your moral values?
2. What are the primary moral values reflected in comics?
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
I'll probably have more questions later, but this should get us started.
December 9th, 2005, 02:37 PM
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
Absolutely. Isn't Superman a bit like Moses? (Especially the first movie). Can not Spider-Man appear as a bit of a Christ Symbol? Hawk and Dove... Cain and Abel.
December 9th, 2005, 04:50 PM
1. Do you feel that comics reflect your moral values?
Yes. Take, for example, Batman. He was wronged and sorely traumatized for all of his life. Yet, he never resorted to killing (with the exception of the awful Dark Knight Returns stories; thankfully they're out of continuity). He was going to get revenge, but not stoop to their levels. People like that are a great reflection of my views. Kate Spencer on the other hand, not so much.
2. What are the primary moral values reflected in comics?
Dealing with life in general. Look at every comic out there. Batman has to deal with the all-too human tragedies he's experienced, Spider-Man has to try to deal with life and school, and Superman has to deal with wooing the love of his life. Comics, for all their wacky stuff, are human at heart, and therefore quite wonderful.
3. Do you feel that comics reflect any religious philosophy in particular?
I believe that comics reflect all religions. DC has an obvious Christian-Jewish-Islamic God, yet has managed to incorporate gods. There's no bashing of any religious, merely an acceptance of all spiritualities (which is taken from Hinduism; everyone else is conceited in their views). That's part of why I love comics, they are open to all religions.
Of course, my views on religion come mostly from Kevin Smith's epic movie Dogma, but you've got to admit the views presented were quite wonderful.
December 13th, 2005, 09:11 PM
re: "My prof just e-mailed me with another question. I guess we can call this #6: To what extent, if any, do you believe the Jewish background of the majority of the creators of classic comic characters (i.e. Siegel & Shuster; Bob Kane; Stan Lee) impacts the moral content and religious undertones in today's comics?"
I think there's influence. Kal-El means something to the effect of "all that God is" in Hebrew, for example. I think the Judeo-Christian ethic permeates our culture and our history, so it's not surprising that it also permeates our modern mythology.
December 13th, 2005, 09:58 PM
Comics do have a Judeo-Christian aspect as indicated before. Superman - the Moses of the DCU - given powers to free his adopted people from tyranny. One who is seen as an equal in his day to day guise yet is truly the savior of his people.
Spider-Man burdened with the responsibility set forth by the words of his father figure: "Great power/Great responsibility". A tale of sacrifice and burden filled with miracles.
Batman: a character given rise from the death of others who sees value in all life. The only hope for a crime filled city. He honers his parents. He shall not kill. He keeps holy the Sabbath (day of his parents' passing), etc.
One could argue that all modern fiction has ties to the Bible in some sense. Older tales being retold in a modern setting . . . but then in lieu of being overt . . . the creators might have been influenced on a unconscious level.
December 13th, 2005, 10:18 PM
...B. Faith - For Tomorrow, a Superman story, is deeply rooted in the notion in Faith and the loss of Faith. In fact, most Superman stories depict Faith as a core element. The belief that there is a better way. His hope for our future. But an interesting example would be Preacher. Not so much to show Faith, but to show what happens when Faith is lost. Genesis, the child of an angel and a demon escapes from Heaven and merges with a down on his luck preacher imbuing him with "The Word" (The ability to make others do what he says) God, fearing Genesis' leaves Heaven. Jessie (The preacher) goes looking for him to force him to explain himself...
...D. Hospitality - Hate to use Superman again, but if the origin of the man of Steel - an alien child adopted by two strangers and raised as their own - doesn't bleed hospitality, I don't know what does. But, one would argue that the Martian Manhunter also shows these aspects...
December 13th, 2005, 10:40 PM
Religion: Reform/Conservative Jewish (somewhere in between the two)
1. Comics at the moment do reflect my values. It's a matter of the heroes living up to those values that is changing.
2. To me, the primary values reflected in comics are bravery, sacrifice, and the ability to overcome dark times.
3. I don't see too much of any religious philosophy in current comics, aside from some resurrection myth stuff when it comes to Superman.
I'll skip #4...
5a. Atom Smasher represents redemption. He made a mistake and sacrificed his life to correct it, and then was brought back from the brink of death and is now serving his punishment.
5b. Superman represents faith. To have strong enough faith in humanity to go out every day and help everyone unconditionally requires faith in the world far beyond what I have.
5c. Jay Garrick represents humility. He tips his hat to every person he saves--he just does it too fast for anyone to see. He's one of the kindest heroes in the business.
5d. Dr. Mid-Nite represents hospitality. As the DCU's medical professional, he treats superheroes and their spouses, as well as those who are too poor to afford their own medical care. He's the most hospitable people ever.
5e. Raven represents mercy. Her ability to drain emotions allows her to heal others and give them confidence.
December 13th, 2005, 11:00 PM
Religious Affiliation: None. I consider myself a spiritual person though.
...C. Humility - Superman: For Tomorrow would be another recommendation I second. I know a lot of people hated it and it fits for the Faith aspect but I was personally really blown away by Azzarello's ability to make Superman seem so powerless and small when he was speaking with the Priest. Despite all his power, he was humbled by the presence of God and I found it very interesting.
D. Hospitality - I used to think Batman taking in Dick Grayson was a good example but lately it's been portrayed more as a planned recruitment. The Kents adopting baby Clark after he falls from the sky is another great example...
From: "Muslim characters in comics" forum discussion, started 22 January 2006 on the Batman discussion board area of official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000059913&start=15&tstart=0; viewed 9 June 2006):
Posted: Jan 24, 2006 8:46 AM
I remember posting about this back on Version 1 and 2 of these boards.
I remember posting about an Elseworlds Superman (in the Superman board and the then Elseworlds board)...
(Myself, I've written a narrative and a comic script of a "Muslim Superman", which a lot of non-Muslims have liked, but it'll never see the light of day in the form of a comic. *sniff*)
From: "Up, up, and oy, vey!" forum discussion, started 6 February 2006 on the MetaFilter.com website (http://www.metafilter.com/39326/Up-up-and-oy-vey; viewed 19 June 2007):
posted by hifiparasol
February 5, 2005 7:28 PM
"After unknowingly eating an atomic matzah that was accidentally baked in a microwave oven with radioactive water, she was surprised to learn that she could fly..." [link to webpage about the Jewish Hero Corps: http://www.nusion.com/jewishsuperhero/jhc.htm] Take your radioactive spiders and your gamma bombs and shove them up your tuchus. I'm casting my lot with the Jewish Hero Corps! [link to: http://www.nusion.com/jewishsuperhero/] But seriously: Most [link to: http://www.marveldirectory.com/teams/fantasticfour.htm] (but not all [link to: http://www.spawn.com/comics/series.aspx?series_id=1]) of the most widely-known superheroes around are a bit on the WASPy side. Is it possible to address issues of ethnicity and identity via superheroes, given the fact that most folks think it's just a lot of punching and zapping? Or do we have to resort to doing via metaphor [link to Amazon.com order page for the X-Men graphic novel: God Loves, Man Kills: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0785100393/metafilter-20/ref=nosim/]?
posted by xammerboy at 8:59 PM on February 5
Wasn't Superman drawn by a Jew?
posted by John Shaft at 10:13 PM on February 5
The Nazis used to call Superman "Superjew" (source: Alan Moore in last week's "Chain Reaction" [link to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/comedy/chainreaction.shtml] -- beware, if you try googling for corroboration, a few choice white pride sites crop up as prime results).
posted by kyrademon at 12:33 PM on February 6
As someone once famously pointed out, Superman came over from the old country and changed his name from Kal-El to Clark Kent. Hmm.
How does one circumcise Superman?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:45 PM on February 6
re: How does one circumcise Superman?
With a circumcision-knife (there's gotta be a word for this, neh?) made from kryptonite. Duh.
posted by amberglow at 1:51 PM on February 6
Nah... he wasn't super on his own planet... a mohel from there could have done it before they sent him away...
posted by raygirvan at 2:46 PM on February 6
re: circumcision-knife (there's gotta be a word for this, neh?)
Izmel. Like mohel, oddly appropriate for Superman. The baggypantsandbravado blog has a skit on this: The Mensch of Steel [link to: http://baggypantsandbravado.blogspot.com/2004_09_01_baggypantsandbravado_archive.html#109639450839368448].
posted by Clay201 at 9:04 PM on February 6
I'm quite certain that I once read an article - most likely in The Comics Buyers Guide - which reported on an interview with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (the creators of Superman) in which the pair said that Superman was Jewish. One of the creators said "If I'm Jewish [and he evidently was], then so is Superman."
From: "Wonder Woman and Religion", posted 21 February 2006 on the Written World: Hyper-Feminist Comic Book Culture C blog website (http://ragnell.blogspot.com/2006/02/wonder-woman-and-religion.html; viewed 20 June 2007):
re: But as a rule, comics writers are so immersed in the default assumption of the Protestant God being the one real God -- even if they themselves aren't believers -- that they can't get outside that headspace.
Sorry to hijack Ragnell's blogspace but I disagree with this completely. A great many comic book creators *aren't* actually of a Protestant background. For example, the original creators of Superman were Jewish (and a lot of the alien-passing-among-humankind is thought to be a metaphor for their own struggles with their religion and dominant culture). Superman, the character, is Methodist because he was raised in rural Kansas, and that's one of the more common religious affiliations associated with that area...
Kalinara, I agree with everything you said... and where we seem to disagree may just be a result of me having chosen my words poorly. (Which happens a lot... which is why I'm trying to make a concise reply to replace the longwinded and pompous one I deleted.)
I don't claim there's any all-pervasive Protestant bias in comics... or certainly not a conscious one. But we Americans all grow up in a culture so immersed in certain assumptions and values that we don't even recognize them as such. A lot of our values come from early settlers who came here to practice their religious beliefs, and these values are so ingrained in our way of life that we view them as simply "American" values without recognizing their religious roots. Even for a Jerry Siegel or a Stan Lee or a Jack Kirby, a lot of the "Protestant ethic" was the default norm of being American.
From: "Superman is a Methodist..." forum discussion, started 6 March 2006 on the Catholic Answers website (http://126.96.36.199/showthread.php?t=102037; viewed 31 May 2007):
Mar 6, '06, 11:46 am
Superman is a Methodist, and the best we [Catholics] can do is Nightcrawler?
Who is Nightcrawler?
Sorry -- just tickled me the right way.
Mar 6, '06, 12:04 pm
Nightcrawler is so much better than Superman. He can teleport short distances, which is better than being the "man of steel," and he's with the X-men...
From: grabbingsand, "Here, God exists in Four Colors and Two Dimensions", posted 7 March 2006 on the Metafilter blog website (http://www.metafilter.com/49827/Here-God-exists-in-Four-Colors-and-Two-Dimensions; viewed 11 June 2007):
Jimmy Olsen is a Lutheran. Really. And Clark Kent? Methodist, it seems. Daredevil, Gambit, Huntress and The Punisher? Catholics, all of them, though I have to wonder when Frank Castle last went to Confession. With about half of DC Comic's line-up heading to church in the latest issue of Infinite Crisis and knowing that Civil War is imminent in the House of Marvel, what better time than now to contemplate the particular faiths of our two-dimensional heroes.
posted by kyrademon at 1:56 PM on March 7
Superman was raised Methodist, but he was born Jewish. Yes, on Krypton. What?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:34 PM on March 7
Superman is definitely Jewish. He sets my Judar [Jew-dar] a-beeping.
I also suspect Spider-Man and Plastic Man.
But Batman? So goyish! [i.e., "non-Jewish"]
posted by Smedleyman at 4:51 PM on March 7
re: "Is that canonical? In some versions at least, Kal-El is two or three years old when he leaves Krypton"
Dunno about the cannon - according to some sources he was technically born here because the space ship was in fact a Kryptonian birthing matrix.
(Yeah, whole lotta nothing to do between jumps and I don't smoke...)
One guy worshipped Superman, which it seems to me there would be a lot of.
(whats-his-name, the guy with the horns and the staff? Magog?)
posted by Clay201 at 5:01 PM on March 7
Siegel and Shuster are on record as saying that Superman is Jewish. Of course, they don't own the character now; DC does.
posted by neda at 5:21 PM on March 7
I'd agree that Superman was indeed a Jewish superhero [links to: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/printFriendly/0,,1-196-1509594,00.html and http://www.jewishsuperhero.com/].
I've posted these links before. I'm just gonna come up with five comments for recycled posting on the blue ad infinitum.
But yeah, the whole "send your kid off in a little vessel to be raised within another group, and later on he'll fulfill his destiny to be awesome as is his birthright" plot line is present in not too many storylines. So yeah, Superman's totally a Jewy McJewerstein.
posted by piratebowling at 3:42 AM on March 8
As a Jew, I don't want to claim Superman. He's a total jerk.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:17 AM on March 8
No. You know who was a total jerk?
Superhitler [link to: http://www.comics.aha.ru/rus/stalin/1.html].
From: "Comics and Religion", posted 8 March 2006 on the Savior Machine blog website (http://www.2by4.org/content/2006/03/08/comics-and-religion/; viewed 19 June 2007):
[This is the personal blog of "a Kuwaiti who works on building a community for his peers"]
I've never considered what a super hero's religion was; it was a moot point. It was kinda given that Spider-Man, or Superman would be raised under some Judo-Christian values, but it was never evident in the writing or the story. All you knew and cared about was that they were the good guys and were fighting the bad guys.
So when I saw this list of comic book characters religions I was amazed to see the level of research in the writing of these guys. Just look how they figured out that Spider-Man is Protestant or Sasquatch is Jewish.
There are about 8 or 9 that are Muslims, but that is more obvious due to the natures of their story.
So this got me thinking, imagine the regular super heroes that we know - like Batman, Spider-Man, Hulk, etc. - were actually Muslim. Would it change things much? ...
Comment by fadibou - 3/8/2006 @ 23:03:10
If Superman was a Muslim and he flew into buildings, the guy would have been labeled Al Qaida and would be in Guantanamo with Kryptonite treatment.
From: "Who is your religious superhero" forum discussion, started 14 March 2006 on the Ship of Fools: The Magazine of Christian Unrest website (http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=006489; viewed 24 April 2006):
Posted 23 March, 2006 20:31
Superman was raised by Amish people in the Elseworlds series The Nail.
From: "List of Superhero Religions" forum discussion, started 14 March 2006 on the Superdickery website (http://s8.invisionfree.com/Superdickery_Forum/ar/t2607_0.htm; viewed 24 April 2006):
March 14, 2006 04:29 AM (GMT)
Superman is Methodist? I don't even know what Methodist is.
March 14, 2006 08:27 AM (GMT) ...I always figured Superman would rather follow a Kryptonian religion. You know, for preserving the Kryptonian culture... Dang, I've seen him praised Rao somewhere...
From: "Superheroes/villains and their religions" forum discussion, started 16 March 2006 on the Animation Insider website (http://www.animationinsider.net/forums/archive/index.php?t-17835.html; viewed 28 June 2007):
03-16-2006, 05:16 AM
Someone pointed this out at another forum. I found it to be quite amusing that someone would actually have enough time on their hands to ponder about this.
09-19-2006, 09:25 AM
Does this include animated DC continuity or not? Because I know on Superman: The Animated Series, Clark did not attend church regularly in Metropolis. In "The Late Mr Kent", a funeral is being held for Clark (everyone thinks he has been murdered) and the Preacher says, "I didn't know him myself, but based on what I've heard from a number of you...." (and so on).
However in animated Smallville, Supergirl mentions a Pastor Ross ("Unity"), and a church is shown a lot, indicating that he does (or did) attend church in Smallville...
From: "Superman's a Methodist", posted 16 March 2006 on the JLucas's Blog blog website (http://community.heraldonline.com/?q=blog/21/feed; viewed 10 May 2006):
Superman's a Methodist.
Growing up, some comic book characters' religions were obvious: Kitty Pryde was very vocal about being Jewish; Nightcrawler was a devout Catholic. But if you've ever wondered about the faith of some less obviously religious caped and cowled vigilantes, look here.
From: "Does Batman Go to Church?" forum discussion, started 21 March 2006 on the AppleGeeks.com website (http://www.applegeeks.com/sm/index.php?action=printpage;topic=6662.0; viewed 20 March 2008):
Post by: gabrielzero on March 21, 2006, 01:11:16 PM
Title: Does Batman Go to Church?
Well find out here:
and other inqueries on which superhero worships which religion. Its a pretty extensive sight with theories and findings...
Post by: Arkwright on March 24, 2006, 05:49:00 PM
I would have thought Superman would be Jewish. Guess it's not really worth arguing over, though.
Post by: ebil_m00fin on April 08, 2006, 01:33:03 PM
re: I would have thought Superman would be Jewish...
That's in an issue of Mad Magazine.
Post by: BAMikeyD on May 22, 2006, 07:08:07 PM
How would you circumcise him? LOL ["laugh out loud"] He worships the Kryptonian gods right?
Post by: TooCool on June 08, 2006, 08:49:26 PM
HEY, Superman ISN'T even from this World . . . How does he have an Earth religion?!!!!!
Post by: JulyFlame on June 14, 2006, 03:47:35 AM
He was raised a farm boy in what's pretty much the Bible Belt. Kansas, Y'know?
That'd do it for Superman, I think. XD
Thank God Superman did not become one of those Mormons who still believe in polygamy as a God-given right to them. I mean, think about that for a bit. [Mainstream "Mormons", i.e., members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints abolished their observance of the Old Testament practice of polygamy in the late 1800s. This poster is cognizant of this fact, but is referring to the small enclaves of people who practice polygamy and identify themselves as "Mormons" but are not members of the mainstream Church. They are instead members of small splinter groups or practice independently.]
Post by: BAMikeyD on June 14, 2006, 05:38:31 PM
Yeah, but think, if he was a Mormon and he went on Mission [for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] in your home town. If you didn't convert, he'd smash your house.
Excommunicating people would be a lot easier with Superman at the helm too.
"Uh, Elder Kent, we need to excommunicate the Parker family..."
*Clark picks up said family's house and throws it out of Utah.*
"Done and done."
Post by: JulyFlame on June 15, 2006, 02:20:41 AM
Well, I was more thinking about the mostly large families and a ton of Superman offspring. I mean, we'd be up to our knees in Kryptonian/Human hybrids.
Post by: BAMikeyD on June 15, 2006, 09:57:25 AM
I dunno. I take the Mall Rats approach to this problem. Superman's [reproductive process would probably be] like a shot gun... Plus the super baby would kick right through Lois Lane and any other woman's womb.
But as far as him getting an Earth religion, I guess that would make sense, but only while he was growing up. After he discovered those crystals and learned about Krypton, then one would assume that he converted to his true religion.
Post by: JulyFlame on June 15, 2006, 02:13:25 PM
re: ...one would assume that he converted to his true religion.
Hmm. Maybe, maybe not. Let's use this analogy. You find out your parents adopted you and your birth parents worshipped giant mutated intelligent cockroaches. Are you going to worship the giant mutated intelligent cockroaches too? After all it is your true religion.
Post by: BAMikeyD on June 15, 2006, 04:55:07 PM
I dunno... Does Christianity actually affect Kal-el? Now we're diving into a whole other topic here. Would Kal-el accepting Jesus really save him? I mean Jesus died for all of man kind, not Kryptonian... unless Jesus died for the sins of all the people in the universe... then I guess Jesus had a bigger burden than we thought, huh? LOL. I mean if the Giant Mutant Cockroaches showed me a true (to my view) path to heaven/paradise/etc., then yeah I'd probably follow that religion ;)
From: "comments page about Adherents.com's "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" section" forum discussion, started 21 March 2006 on the StumbleUpon.com website (http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html; viewed 10 May 2006):
by rieraci, Mar 21, 7:25pm
This page focuses on fictional comic book characters -- mostly from Marvel and DC -- who are adherents of real-world (not purely fictional) religions. Until I found this site, I never knew Superman was a Methodist! Then again, what else would a Kryptonian raised in Smallville be?
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 21 March 2006 on the Atomic Think Tank website (http://atomicthinktank.com/viewtopic.php?t=15563&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=15&sid=6e1a6029528ee4ff56875971156c2732; viewed 25 April 2006):
Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:25 am
I thought Superman was of a Kryptonian religion. I believe he follows Rao. They started that a few years ago, but it seems to have been dropped in the books as of late.
Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:36 am
Take a look at his entry in the link site. It explains things a little more clearly. He may simply be saying "Oh God" in a fashion that deepens his cover persona of Superman.
From: "Racism against Atheists", posted 23 March 2006 on the Stormy's Corner blog website (http://stormy.blogs.com/stormy/2006/03/racism_against_.html; viewed 10 May 2006):
[from original blog post:] Atheists identified as America's most distrusted minority, according to new U of M study: News Releases: UMNnews: U of M.: "From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing their vision of American society.' Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry."
Posted by: Jay KTX | March 24, 2006 at 06:12 PM
This is my take on it: When most Americans hear the word "Atheist" they think of someone who is against the values they grew up with. They think of Madalyn O'Hair, a woman who knew how to hate. On the other hand, when people think of Christ, they think of a man who knew how to love. So they would rather have the label Christian than atheist.
Posted by: Layman | March 24, 2006 at 06:55 PM
Perhaps one explanation is the negative depiction of atheists in comic books. Most superheroes [believe in God], with a majority being Christians: Superman is a Methodist, Spider-Man is a Protestant, X-Man Rogue is a Southern Baptist, X-Man Nightcrawler is a Catholic. Even the Punisher is Catholic. But when it comes to villains, atheism seems to be the rule. The Joker, The Kingpin, The Green Goblin, Sabretooth, and Lex Luthor are all atheists.
From: Barry, "For Barry", posted 26 March 2006 on Theo-Dongs blog website (http://theopeckers.blogspot.com/2006/03/for-barry.html; viewed 8 May 2006):
Basically, I think this web site [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] is wrong on two counts. First, just because Mark Millar and some jim-jab Superman fetish freak who no one's ever heard of (Elliot S! Maggin...), doesn't somehow make highly speculative wishful thinking true continuity. If it's not written in a currently mainstream title in prime continuity (which, in the DC universe is hard to come by, it changes about once a decade), then it's not canon. For the record, the United Methodist Church doesn't want Superman, especially in Kansas. Come on, he wears red briefs... outside his pants! I'm not saying he's gay, but really. You'd think Lois would be pregnant by now, that is assuming he's actually, (ahem), doing... the deed.
From: "Religion of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 29 March 2006 on the AllSpark.com website (http://www.allspark.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4168; viewed 1 June 2007):
post Mar 29 2006, 08:38 AM
I found this great resource entirely by accident:
post Mar 13 2007, 10:59 AM
I refuse to believe that a character designed by two Jewish men, to represent Jewish ideals of the Messiah, would be a Methodist.
Superman is Jewish, nothing can convince me otherwise...
post Mar 13 2007, 01:51 PM
I refuse to believe that a character designed by one Canadian man, to represent Canadian ideals of the Messiah, would be a Kryptonian.
Superman is Canadian, nothing can convince me otherwise.
post Mar 13 2007, 02:01 PM
re: Superman is Jewish, nothing can convince me otherwise.
Dude, he's from Kansas. Kansas has like three Jews...
post Mar 13 2007, 02:21 PM
I don't care if he's from Antarctica, or the depths of the Congo, he was originally created to be Jewish.
post Mar 13 2007, 02:29 PM
He [Superman] wasn't created to BE Jewish. That's not the entire picture. Rather, figuratively, he's a Jew adopted by Protestants and raised Protestant. I think you read something halfway and then stopped.
(Of course, this is an analogy that trades "Kryptonian" for "Jewish" and "American" for "Protestant." To say that Superman is Jewish ignores that it's an analog to the human experience in the first place. It's like saying that all the X-Men are black because their story is an analog to the civil rights movement.)
QUOTE from http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Superman.html:
Superman's Moses-like origin and his Midwestern WASP-ish (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) persona are widely regarded as a symbol of Jewish assimilation. Children of immigrant Jews, Siegel and Shuster were not unlike many in their generation in their desire to fit in to the general goyim population. The creation of Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent was a manifestation of the desire by Siegel and Shuster to "pass" in mainstream population and also to assert control in a world that had often left them feeling powerless, such as when Siegel's father was murdered.
And Batman's as Catholic as you can get.
Alvatron! [a self-described atheist]
post Mar 13 2007, 02:58 PM
Meh, I'll give you Superman, but Batman is NOT Catholic...
I know there's PLENTY to support... "Superman is a Christian"..., but you show me ONE panel where the Bat is attending a church service, or practicing his faith, and I'll eat my copy of the 10 cent adventure, I will LITERALLY eat it, I will take pictures of it, and post them here...
post Mar 13 2007, 01:54 PM
Meh, they lived in Cleveland when they came up with him, Metropolis is in Ohio.
post Mar 13 2007, 03:16 PM
re: Superman is Jewish, nothing can convince me otherwise.
The tools the mohel needed for Kal's circumcision must have been made out of Kryptonite.
From: Kevin C. Murphy, "Can I get a (super)-witness?", posted 3 April 2006 on the Triptych Cryptic/Ghost in the Machine blog website (http://www.ghostinthemachine.net/003749.html#003749; viewed 21 June 2007):
The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], with a handy graphic of who's a member of what "legion." The site also includes impressively detailed individual entries on each character -- not only the big guns like Methodist Superman, Episcopal Batman, Catholic Daredevil, and Buddhist Wolverine, but also everyone from Presbyterian Wolfsbane to the Mormon Power Pack.
From: Jason R. Hode, "The Chief Loves and Cares For You", posted 10 April 2006 on The Chief's Canon blog website (http://jasonrhode.livejournal.com/207864.html; viewed 29 May 2006):
The Chief (jasonrhode) wrote, at 2006-04-10 21:57:00:
Here is a list (dubious to me, Superman is obviously Jewish, but maybe that's just me...) of over a hundred comic book characters' religious affiliations.
themansfield, 2006-04-11 08:39 pm UTC:
As far as Superman goes, who the hell says he's Jewish? You can put forth all the crap you want about Superman as an allegory for Jewish empowerment. You can pontificate about the overt Jewishness of his creators, and how they were relating a subtle metaphor about their assimilation amongst the goyims.
I won't buy it until I see a panel with Clark Kent eating a Bagel and celebrating Passover while watching a Woody Allen movie. He was raised by people in Kansas, for crissakes. ON A FARM. IN KANSAS. WHERE NARY A JEW IS FOUND.
jasonrhode, 2006-04-12 09:49 pm UTC:
From: ""Passover Wave! Ragman and--?"" forum discussion, started 13 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?forumID=29209087&threadID=2000071426; viewed 1 June 2006):
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 10:10 AM
Any other Jewish Superheroes besides RAGMAN?...
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 10:29 AM
...Superman's a Jew, as are the Weinbergs...
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 10:54 AM
Although often referred to as being a sort of "thematic Jew" (i.e., representing the Jewish American immigrant experience), Supes [Superman has equally been linked with Christianity but I don't think the character is actually Jewish (his wedding certainly wasn't). (BTW, forums are hard to interpret sometimes, so apologies if the above post was all jest).
Other Jewish heroes include Atom-Smasher... but I'm not overly familiar with the minutiae of DC lore...
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 11:12 AM
It wasn't in jest, he [Superman] was created by two Jews, as the embodiment of the Jewish Messiah/Superman, and as such, they should be the authority on what his religion is.
Just because some zealot creators warped that fact, doesn't change it.
Superman IS a Jew, I won't accept any other answer, I've debated this with creators, and I'll debate it here.
Until I hear it from the mouths of Jerry Siegel, or Joe Shuster, I will stick to that.
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 12:12 PM
Did S & S [Siegel and Shuster] actually state that, Blister? There were A LOT of Jewish creators back in the day.
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 12:15 PM
Find me a quote.
I looked, I came up bumpkis.
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 6:01 PM
He's not a Jew, he's Kryptonian. Besides, doesn't he worship the sun-god, Rao? I had a friend who believed we should ALL worship the sun...
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 6:20 PM
re: "He's not a Jew, he's Kryptonian..."
Holy Sh-- You're right! Superman is a FREE MASON! Or worse -- a SCIENTOLOGIST!!!
At best, he's a no-good sun-worshipping HEATHEN. Let's beat him to death and dance about on his grave and sing hallelujah!
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 7:30 PM
...I equate Jesus with Superman... I'm an Atheist, so I think it's all bunk...
Me and Mister Terrific... he put it the same way I would...
Posted: Apr 13, 2006 9:04 PM
re: "I equate Jesus with Superman..."
Both came back from the dead too. Thought I was reading The Adventures of SuperJesus for a while there in the 90s.
From: Daniel J. Phillips, "Superman... a Methodist? Batman an Episcopalian? Holy WCC!", posted 18 April 2006 on the Biblical Christianity blog website (http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/04/superman-methodist-batman-episcopalian.html; viewed 9 May 2007):
Wow... "holy" and "WCC" so don't go together...
A dear friend (Terry Rose) just sent me a link to a page called The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters. It's a quite-serious look at the world of superheroes, super-villains, and the other ink-and-pen creations kids have been devouring for decades.
I was quite the aficionado in the 1960's, but have long-since stopped following comic books, except when they're turned into movies. This page takes a pretty serious approach to identifying and documenting the implicit and explicit religious leanings of the characters in the Marvel, DC and other comic universes.
You'll find out that Superman is a Methodist, Batman is Episcopalian/Roman Catholic, the Fantastic Four's The Thing is Jewish, and that God's religion is described as... God.
You who've kept up on comics will have more intelligent observations on this than I have. I'll say this, though: the page depicts a much better-balanced and "real" world than TV or the movies. From those media, you'd assume that virtually no good person seriously practices any identifiable religion. For instance, I've made this observation about one of the most otherwise creative minds in Hollywood, Joss Whedon:
...Whedon has evidently never known, liked and understood a real-live, practicing, Bible-believing Christian. He shares that with most Hollywood writers, sadly. Whedon can create believable murderers, maniacs, flawed heroes, monsters, in-betweeners, and a hundred other types. But he seems unable or unwilling to create a credible, likable, genuine, openly Christian character -- let alone create one and go anywhere with that character.
Contrast that with history, and the real world inhabited by most of us outside of Hollywood.
Funny, isn't it? Comic books being more real than live-action media?
From: "Is Bruce Wayne A Religious Person?" forum discussion, started 20 April 2006 on the Killer Movies website (http://www.killermovies.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=400582&pagenumber=2; viewed 27 July 2007):
18 July 2006
So what religon is Superman the Kyrptonian? Did the Kryptonians belive in God? I'm thinking not because they were too advanced in science showing they focused their attention more on it then religon. They probably believed in evolution...
Also, Superman, Spiderman, X-men, and Batman were created by Jews! That's funny. That's why you see so many superheroes fighting Nazis.
19 July 2006
According to Adherents.com, Superman is Methodist.
26 July 2006
Actually. I dont think any of those superheroes fought Nazis besides Superman. And Daredevil was created by a Jew and he's Catholic.
From: "Comic book character religions" forum discussion, started 29 November 2005 on "Comic Book Resources" website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-94945.html; viewed 27 July 2007):
11-29-2005, 01:46 PM
I found this site via The Beat. It lists comic book characters and their religions.
11-30-2005, 06:14 AM
I cannot believe that Superman is any Christian denomination.
[Posts two out-of-context graphics: One shows Superman throwing a flaming cross into the air. The other shows Superman interrupting the worship of some sort of criminal sect.]
From: "What Religion is Your Favorite Superhero?" forum discussion, started 20 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072337&tstart=0; viewed 8 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 20, 2006 9:30 AM
...What is the religion of the heroes we read about?... Don't get me wrong, not picking on anyone, just wonder what everyone thinks what our heroes believe. ...Other threads touch on the subject in passing, time to discuss it!
Posted: Apr 21, 2006 12:44 PM
Clark Kent: I would like to think he was Methodist, but growing up in rural Kansas it is more likely that his folks raised him to be Mennonite.
Posted: Apr 23, 2006 10:06 PM
Wow, if Superman is Methodist, it gives you new respect for the religion, though family upbringing, community environment and political leanings play a big role too.
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 3:31 AM
re: "Wow, if Superman is Methodist, it gives you new respect for the religion"
Er . . . why? He's heroic, sure, but is he more heroic than Batman or Colossus or Mister Terrific or Starman, who don't really believe in any religion? More heroic than Wonder Woman, who venerates the Greek gods? More heroic than Catholics like Doctor Mid-Nite, or Buddhists like Green Arrow?
(Heck, is the current Superman more heroic than the Pre-Crisis version who was always talking about the deity Rao and performing Kryptonian ritual ceremonies?)
Not trying to be argumentative, just scratching my head . . .
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 7:33 PM
I'm not saying Superman is more heroic than any other hero of different religion, it's just that religion or our belief system greatly shapes our outlook and perspectives, wether it be morals, discipline, political leanings or ideals.
I'm not also saying that only the Methodist have the most upright belief system, probably Clark paid more attention in Sunday School combined with the way the Kents raised him plus the Kansas environment. This is just close to saying that Harvard is proud of their product, so the Methodist might react the same.
Just thinking our loud.
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 7:46 PM
It's cool. I just figured that what he took to heart from the Methodist religion was the "do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" idea -- which it has in common with the rest of Protestantism -- which it has in common with the rest of Christianity -- and, of course, with Judaism, along with assorted other religious faiths and secular philosophies.
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:50 PM
re: "Wow, if Superman is Methodist, it gives you new respect for the religion, though family upbringing, community environment and political leanings play a big role too."
Yeah, that stuff's great and all... but Superman's gonna keep me in Sunday School...
Posted: May 6, 2006 2:19 PM
...Whether Superman is a Methodist, a Baptist, a Mormon, Jewish, Buddhist, Shinto, a Scientologist, a New Ager, or a Druid, it says nothing about his religion. It says something about him, and the people who raised him...
Not to dis your beliefs, but "do unto others" hardly requires a religion to push the concept, although I'll admit it helps.
From: "Wasn't Superman Supposed to be Jewish?" forum discussion, started 24 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000073412; viewed 27 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 29, 2006 8:36 AM
Wasn't Superman Supposed To Be Jewish?
I know that Superman has probably celebrated Christmas and is probably Christian but I think I read somewhere that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (both Jewish by the way) intended Superman to be Jewish.
Posted: Apr 29, 2006 9:07 AM
You are correct. He was a stand-in for S & S [Siegel and Shuster], who were Jewish. I might add that the comic book world owes them an unpayable huge debt, for without their contributions, especially Superman, comics as we know them would not exist.
Posted: Apr 29, 2006 10:10 AM
No, they originally intended for Superman to be a villain of the Nazi Reich. Then they decided to make him a hero, but never officially changed his non-Jewish status.
Posted: Apr 29, 2006 3:13 PM
I know he was supposed to originally be a villain, not part Nazi, and Jewish.
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 10:59 AM
Thanks. I will add this to my database of comic book misinformation.
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 12:08 PM
Okay, well do what you want, just pretty sure he was conceived of as a villain for the Nazis. Who do you think possessed the term "superman"? After Nietzsche the Nazis pretty much owned that idea.
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 12:54 PM
Got a source for that? 'Pretty sure' isn't quite enough for a claim like this...
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 1:02 PM
Well I can be wrong. I think it was one of those TV shows about comic book characters and their origins that I first heard the original idea for Superman was that he was evil and the Superman the Nazi party was all about using to conquer the world.
I mean, two Jewish kids, thinking about writing a story about an evil superman (whom they call SUPERMAN) who terrorizes the world during the rise and height of the Nazi party. Kinda makes sense to me that's why I never questioned it.
Course S & S [Siegel and Shuster] more or less went straight to him being a hero so for all I know even my source is wrong. Wasn't that great of a show either.
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 1:25 PM
The actual story from 1933 is on-line, at http://superman.ws/seventy/reign/?page=1, and doesn't really have anything to do with (a) the Nazis, or (b) a mild-mannered reporter named Clark Kent, who as the last survivor of the doomed planet Krypton is a bulletproof strongman capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound.
Instead, it's that Jerry Siegel thought "SUPERMAN" was a really cool name -- and so applied it here to Bill Dunn, a vagrant who gains tremendous psychic powers by serving as guinea pig for a chemist's experiments, and thereafter sets out solely for himself; he has no special love for Germany and no special hatred of the Jews, he's an American crook who simply aims first for profit and second for personal conquest.
So much for the short story. As for the comics, Siegel and Shuster had the whole thing I was just talking about ready by the time "Action #1" hit the stands: from day one, the character was, well, a mild-mannered reporter named Clark Kent -- who, as the last survivor of the doomed planet Krypton, is a bulletproof strongman capable of leaping tall buildings in a single bound.
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 1:30 PM
:shrugs: alright then...
However, there was only one source for the name Superman in 1933 and that was the Nazi party so ... like I said, I never questioned that link when I heard it (especially with the title, "Reign of the Superman").
Can [you] blame me?
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 1:39 PM
According to the Wikipedia entry on Superman, (which as you know, checks their facts, and then checks them again...), Nietzsche had nothing to do with the name. In any event, the Nazis stole the name, and twisted the idea to their own ends. Nietzsche himself couldn't stand their ilk, who were around in spirit, if not in name even when he was alive.
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 3:11 PM
This reminds me of Chicago comedian Bill Leff's funny assertion a few years back that most of the popular superheroes were Jewish because their names ended in "man" which he pronounced like "mun" (ex. he pronounced Superman like "SUPER-mun".) He then gave a list of other examples:
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 3:35 PM
Just out of left field, I often like to point out that the name Jor-El is a contraction of sorts of Jerome Siegel. So Supes' creative father also applied his name to the father of the character.
I think there was a Harvey Pekar story in which Superman is referred to as a fat, Jewish superhero!
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 4:21 PM
If he was, he would never marry a shiksa like Lois.
Posted: May 1, 2006 11:14 AM
re: "If he was, he would never marry a shiksa like Lois."
Lois has that irresistible "shiksappeal!"
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 7:00 PM
Well, Nietzsche more or less created the ideal that the Nazi's twisted was my point.
Seriously, the Nazis twisted everything. The concept of a super man and a super soldier through physical and religious cleansing, the swastika itself is a mirror flipped image of a Buddhist svastica standing for peace and growth and love blah blah blah blah (kinda brings a new meaning to yin and yang - the nazis literally flipped the image), to the psycho idea of the Aryan's. YOu can blame that nut job woman for the new Aryan "ideal". the real Aryan's are dark skinned dark haired dark eyed people of the mountains, not blonde blue and white.
Nazis twisted everything. Man, then there's the Thules were so freaky-twisted just makes you throw up.
Posted: Apr 30, 2006 11:03 PM
I thought I heard somewhere that Kal-El means "Star Child" in Hebrew. Anyone know if this is true or not?
Posted: May 1, 2006 12:50 AM
re: "Kal-El" actually translates from Hebrew to 'all that is God.'"
Actually, we had a discussion about the Jewishness of Superman (in spirit, if not in actual canon) a while back. I'm sure it's on the boards someplace. The thread title was something like, "If Superman is Jesus, then..."
Superman is, no matter how you look at it, a Jewish ideal--he's the golem, the messiah-type, the Moses who is sent out in a basket (or spaceship) to save the oppressed and the weak.
But yes, the Nietzschean implications of the name "Superman" are clearly there. Personally, I think it's meant to be ironic--the true ideal man turns out not to be an anti-Semitic Nazi type, but instead he embodies the very idea of a Jewish hero. Kind of an in-your-face kind of thing to do, naming him that.
Posted: May 1, 2006 2:43 AM
re: "I thought I heard somewhere that Kal-El means 'Star Child' in Hebrew. Anyone know if this is true or not?"
Nope. The previous poster is right in asserting that Kal-El translates(at least phonetically) to "All that is God."
Elliot Maggin wrote in "The Greatest Green Lantern" that Lara named her son Kal-El, which was Kryptonian for Star Child.
re: "But yes, the Nietzschean implications of the name 'Superman' are clearly there..."
But Nietzsche didn't support German Nationalism or Anti-Semitism. He denounced both ideas. His concept of an Ubermensch was the notion that man should develop his own morality and utilize his Will to Power to become an Overman, sometimes translated as Superman.
Posted: May 1, 2006 9:41 AM
Well yeah, irony infests the name ["Superman"]
But, my point about the subject was it seems to me to say that the original influence of the Nazis on creating Superman seems pretty obvious. You can see the evolution from the name "Reign of the Superman" through to the Action Comics Superman who was kind of callous, into the further refinement of "truth justice and the American way."
I mean, I just wonder, when he was creating the "Reign of the Superman" if he didn't consider all sorts of origins before typing it out. That's why I said, please don't blame me for getting a little confused on how that story turned out.
Really funny irony there, because the one man in the Nazi party who was taken in by all that crap - Hitler - had some serious neurological disorders leading to extreme mental and physical impurity.
I really liked Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda because the concept of Nietzsche-ism was adopted to a pure form by genetic manipulation of people who broke off the human race and called themselves Nietzscheans. It was really neat. [Andromeda included the establishment of an overt, organized Nietzschean religion.]
Posted: May 1, 2006 9:50 AM
I agree with the Moses connection to a degree but not with the golem idea.
The problem with comparing him with Moses is Moses was supposed to be a leader with his ear to God.
Superman isn't, he just out there to protect like a cop on steroids.
I don't agree with the golem ideal at all because the Golem was a monster of creation, neither good nor evil and without a will of its own. Anyone who possesses the cryptic words can control it. Superman has none of aspects. Since the golem can be used for destruction as well as preservation I can't even agree that Superman is like a golem in that he protects.
Naw, Superman can be like Moses to an extent but if we're going to be comparing Superman to religious figures, I'd go right ahead and say he's more like Sampson or hrm... I think you can say Gilgamesh.
Notice the curl in his hair?
Of course, Sampson was a freaking loser and he didn't need his curly hair at all, and his wife was trying to more or less snap him out of his idiocy and convince him otherwise, but you know sampson, the loser that he is, he has to blame his wife for taking his strength when he didn't lose it after all...
You also have Hercules.
The Archangel Michael -- now that's probably more akin to Golden Age Superman than anything else.
Posted: May 1, 2006 11:12 AM
I think "golem" was meant in the sense that Shuster/Siegel created this character and "brought him to life" in comic form as an entity to fight for the oppressed. "Inside" the comics he's not a golem, but as as fictional creation is sort of is.
Posted: May 1, 2006 2:14 PM
Yes, that's how I see it. Will Eisner even said that he saw Superman as a golem type, and I'm assuming it was for the same reasons.
As far as Superman having as much in common with Samson as with Moses, that's just another example of him embodying the messiah-type. He could also be compared to any other number of Jewish heroes. I wouldn't really compare him to Gilgamesh, though, as Gilgamesh was a hero in a very different sense--he sought glory and personal gain, rather than being a champion of the oppressed, like Superman.
Oh, and I didn't mean to imply that Nietzsche himself supported the Nazi Party's ideals. I get the difference. But the intermingling of the Nietzschean superman and anti-semitism was already full-blown by the time Superman appeared on the scene. And even if you strip away the anti-semitism from the superman type, you're left with something that is almost inherently anti-Jewish in its thinking--Judaism has traditionally taught the value of the weak, rather than the strong.
When I say "anti-Jewish" there, I don't mean to imply hatred of Jewishness; I mean that it's antithetical to Jewish thinking.
Posted: May 1, 2006 2:50 PM
If you want to stretch the comparison of golem and Superman to that degree I guess you could - but you can also do the same for Punisher, Batman, and Captain Marvel.
Posted: May 1, 2006 5:41 PM
There's also the idea that Superman stands for "truth, justice, and the American way"--and the word inscribed upon a golem's forehead to bring it to life is emet, truth. And the Superman mythos does definitely deal with the theme of hubris that is central to the golem stories.
Still, I don't think the golem is the best representation of Superman's Jewishness. Obviously, Ragman better fits that description. I think the messiah parallel is much more pronounced. But it's important to remember that the idea of Superman fighting to defend the weak and oppressed, while certainly common in comics of today, was not really common then. Superman was clearly portrayed as a powerful champion in the Jewish vein. More recent heroes have all been created in a world in which Superman already exists (albeit fictionally), and owe that similarity to Superman's influence, not to an in-born Jewish ideal. Batman, more or less a contemporary of Superman, wouldn't be considered as much a golem type because he is not a powerful, physical force--instead, he is a man.
Like I said, I think Superman was created in part as a golem type , not to be a golem, but with a clear influence and understanding of the folklore.
Posted: May 1, 2006 6:18 PM
Except again, you're going back to the concept that golems are protectors.
They are not protectors. Golems obey anyone who owns their name - or command word. The Golem just followed orders. I mean, when you read the fable of the golem you gotta read the whole thing, not just the concept that the golem
Also Batman was not modeled after Superman but after Zorro (who first appeared long before Superman and was in fact modeled after a real life mexican caballero who made a gang to get vengeance against, wasn't it members of the American Army?). The essence beyond the batman/zorro creation is that their power is a "supernatural" illusion they create.
Like I said, you're stretching it very far for Superman to have any connection with the classic golem.
Wonder Woman is far far better character to compare with a Golem. Especially considering she was stripped from Greek Mythology.
Just because the kids were Jewish doesn't mean their character was made after a Jewish fable, especially since you have to stretch the suspension of disbelief to such a point where you say:
they have two things in common and that's enough for me. 1. Super Strength and 2. They protected people.
Let me also point out that Superman has a weakness, a major weakness. Golems, well traditionally, didn't. None at all. They were brainless monsters that did as they were commanded.
Wonder Woman was created out of clay, woken up with a word, became a daughter, she found a purpose as a protector ambassador, has super strength, no real weaknesses, and super invulnerability. I mean, that's a golem.
But nobody calls her a golem because what, she wasn't created by two Jewish kids?
You see my point here? It's just ridiculous from my point to even connect him to a golem.
Superman is better likened to Sampson or Gilgamesh (other old testament dudes), or even Hercules, but certainly not a golem.
Posted: May 2, 2006 4:38 PM
Actually, the idea of a golem being a protector is a common part of the folklore--even though it doesn't occur in every tale.
I didn't mean to imply that Batman was modeled after Superman. I said that more recent superheroes were.
I also didn't say that the golem connection was the primary Jewish thing about Superman's character. If you go back and re-read my...
It doesn't really bother me that you disagree with me here, but I don't think the golem connection is such a stretch. A lot of people have made this comparison before, so I'm in good company.
Sure, you can find a connection to the golem with Wonder Woman if you want, but I don't think Wonder Woman embodies any type of Jewish ideal.
I also think that your comparison of Superman to Samson, Gilgamesh, or Hercules is a bit of a stretch. The point I was attempting to make is that you can find similarities in things even if there are some differences.
I believe that any person with a strong background in and understanding of Jewish tradition would find it hard to dispute the Jewish flavor of Superman as he was presented by Siegel and Shuster. But Jewish culture has had a large influence on contemporary American popular culture, so I can understand if you don't see it. To me, it's obvious.
Posted: May 3, 2006 11:03 AM
Superman doesn't embody Jewish ideals. He embodies general ideals of humanity. I don't see him going around telling women that their word is less than his because the order of things goes:
Or talking about how he's a son of Israel, or etc., etc., etc.
In fact, I see nothing Jewish about Superman.
And that's part of the problem I have with past creators going around saying what they think S&S [Siegel and Shuster] were doing, instead of just asking them to begin with while they were still alive.
Calling Superman a golem was and still remains a massive stretch to try and connect a very un-Jewish character with what many people perceive as a very Jewish creation which in fact was ripped off from much older stories about creating someone from clay.
That's why I consider it ridiculous statement to make. It's made for all the wrong reasons.
Especially considering the fact Wonder Woman had far far more in common with the golem -- hell even one of many sources from which the golem idea was stolen. The entire idea of creating someone or man kind out of clay goes way back...
[Much more material about Jewish legends, curly hair, the meaning of curly hair as a symbol of strength among Jews and other religious and ethnic groups, other legendary hero characters with curly hair, including Samson, etc., etc.]
Posted: May 4, 2006 6:41 PM
Well the only Jewish connection with Superman is in his birth name Kal-El. El is Hebrew for God but I see more of Christ connection for example both resurrected from the dead both have villains Superman has Lex, Christ had Satan. Both were taught to keep there powers a secret to others and to help the common man and to be humble. But I think all the similarities are there by chance and are not intentional.
Posted: May 10, 2006 12:49 PM
Well, of course there are similarities between Superman and Jesus--it's the old Hebraic Messiah theme. Personally, I think it's a lot more than coincidence, but I get that you may not see the Jewish connection.
Posted: May 10, 2006 1:09 PM
I'll assume that we are meant to be discussing Superman as he appeared in ACTION COMICS #1. Well, Kal-L was from another planet, and there was never any indication that the Kents were anything other than rural, American-heartland Protestants. On a deeper level, Superman was certainly inspired partly by Moses and other Messianic figures; but, that doesn't translate to Clark Kent being of the Jewish faith.
Posted: May 10, 2006 6:44 PM
Jerry Siegel did a lot of reading in general magazines--maybe he encountered articles about Nietzsche or the Nazi use of the Superman/Ubermensch concept.
However, he is much more likely to have encountered the term "superman" in the Doc Savage pulp magazine. Ads not only referred to Doc Savage as the "man of bronze," but as a "superman." I don't think Doc Savage exactly fit into the Nietzschean concept, either--while he was an extraordinary individual, and he did keep his own private prison/reformatory, he basically, like Superman later, was a defender of the social order, not someone who disdained it or ignored it.
The Superman radio show had Superman arriving on Earth as an adult and going immediately to the big city to find a job. I could see this as a stand-in for Jewish immigrants arriving in America from Russia or Poland or somewhere. But those radio scripts weren't developed by Jerry Siegel, and Siegel himself depicted the infant orphan being adopted by John and Mary Kent. We only saw them in a panel or two in the original story, but they seemed like they were rural Americans of old Yankee stock--real Daughters of the American Revolution material. The Superman novel later elaborated on his childhood, going into detail about his rural, middle-American upbringing.
If anything, this is a fantasy of "old America," not the America of immigrants in big cities. Kind of like all the Jewish movie producers/studio chiefs in Hollywood who produced all those old movies that idealized small-town, middle America--the Love Finds Andy Hardy, proto-sitcom kind of picture that was so popular then. I don't see that Siegel made Superman in any way Jewish, even metaphorically. (He did recall thinking of Samson, as well as Hercules, as strong-men heroes that he "rolled into one" as Superman.)
Posted: May 10, 2006 7:15 PM
Dude, everyone knew about the Superman Nazi ideal -- the Aryan overlords -- long before the war even started. It was the belief that put Hitler in charge of the NSDAP before he even took over Germany.
Posted: May 11, 2006 10:27 AM
re: "I don't see that Siegel made Superman in any way Jewish, even metaphorically."
Well, except for borrowing the whole "Moses in a basket thing" for Kal-L's origin.
Doesn't make Superman Jewish, but he did incorporate elements of Jewish mythology.
Posted: May 11, 2006 12:32 PM
Yes, he did incorporate like two elements. The name, and the basket thing... So I understand that much.
But then the rest of the character is so generic with origins/powers, that's the discussion there.
Posted: May 11, 2006 1:32 PM
re: "Dude everyone knew about the Superman Nazi ideal -- the Aryan overlords long before the war even started..."
So it is your contention that Superman's creators intended him to be a Nazi icon?
Posted: May 11, 2006 4:44 PM
:sighs: I'm too tired to post another explanation.
I'm saying the term and the objective of the Nazi superman was something that sparked the fire. The kid wrote a story about a criminal titling it Reign of the Superman (obvious connection even if he wasn't a Nazi, just look at the name), then it got changed again to a super hero.
Either way I see very little Jewish representation in the character. I see the Moses thing, I see the name Kal El, but I don't see golem (nowhere near a golem), and I don't see religious importance.
I can see Samson. I can see Hercules. I can see the curl, but not the golem.
Posted: May 11, 2006 4:54 PM
Wonder Woman is the golem (quite literally, in fact).
Posted: May 11, 2006 4:57 PM
No way Superman is Jewish. To be a Jew means:
1. Your Mother must be Jewish
2. You converted
We can rule out #1 since his mother is from Krypton. Rule out #2 because thats a long a tedious process that very few undertake and it has never been shown in continuity. Even once someone converts, some Jews do not accept them.
Oh, yeah and
3. Superman is really Satan http://www.supermanhomepage.com/comics/comics.php?topic=articles/superman-satan
4. He's fictional
Posted: May 11, 2006 5:12 PM
You said some false stuff. Just because he is from Krypton doesn't mean his mom can't be Jewish. Also, I'm not saying Superman is Jewish. Yes he has celebrated Christmas specials. I'm saying the Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (both Jews) intended for Superman to be Jewish. Who knows, maybe when a Jewish writer writes for Superman, he may change him to be a Jew like [Siegel and Shuster] originally intended Superman to be.
Posted: May 11, 2006 7:34 PM
Wait, then he's circumcised?
"Rabbi, please use the glowing green izmel."
Posted: May 11, 2006 7:47 PM
I think people are taking this a little too literally. Yes, both of the Superman creators were Jewish and I think Superman's "Jewishness" is on a metaphorical level rather than an actual religious one.
His name, Kal-El is very Jewish sounding. His physical appearance, black hair and blue eyes. He's basically an immigrant who's world has been destroyed and he starts a life in America (yeah, he's a baby but the parallel is still there).
He's the embodiment of the Post WWII zionist Jew and everything young Jewish men wanted to be at the time. He's strong and handsome and brave and most of all, he's American through and through.
So does Superman celebrate Passover? Probably not. But there is no doubt that he has strong Jewish elements in his origin.
Posted: May 12, 2006 6:34 AM
You don't have to be Jewish to celebrate passover. Christians celebrate it too, but it gets overshadowed by Easter because they happen around the same time and of course the ceremonies are different too.
Posted: May 14, 2006 12:04 PM
Yes, this is what I meant earlier when I was talking about the Jewishness of Superman. I meant that he had a Jewish flavor -- at least as Siegel and Shuster presented him. I actually think the Kents are Methodist.
Posted: May 16, 2006 6:52 AM
re: "Seems like a lot of Marvel's heroes are either Jewish or seem to be Jewish."
Well it makes sense right? Most of the creators and artists who really founded the comics medium were and are Jewish.
Men Of Tomorrow: Geek, Gangsters, and the Birth of the Comic Book by Gerard Jones and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon are two great books to read on the subject. I really enjoyed them both a lot. Anybody know of others?
Posted: May 16, 2006 7:30 AM
I spent a good amount of time on comics lately, on hero at a time.
My notes as I went a long are:
Supermen came from a Nazi under Hitler who was giving a speech about making super humans.
I saw that the two men behind Superman was working and another project about Supermen but didn't work out.
Then they made Superman in their own image to include the glasses, dorkiness, and careers. They had to have a reason for Superman's powers so he came from space.
So, Superman is made in the image of two Jewish fellas that made him, but I like to think that they made him alien so the whole world would like him.
Plus he has that connection to many people that was sent over to America as an infant, like two of my ancestors.
But, as far as his religion? As long as he's still the Lois Lane-loving guy who stands for truth , justice and the American way, does it matter?
To me Superman is our superhero, there are many like him but that one is ours. Really he belongs to the world because his parents gave him to us.
Posted: May 18, 2006 3:47 AM
Well it makes sense right? Most of the creators and artists who really founded the comics medium were and are Jewish.
Maybe we should start a new thread: "Are comics inherently Jewish?"
Speaking of which, I'm reading Will Eisner's Plot, finally. Anyone else actually read it?
...There is a book by Greg Garrett called Holy Superheroes: Exploring Faith and Spirituality in Comic Books. He's a Christian writer, but the book is really an intellectual/philosophical discussion and doesn't resemble a sermon or a devotional book. In fact, some reviewers criticized it because he doesn't quote the Bible a lot.
Posted: May 18, 2006 4:47 PM
Off of the top of my head, let's see which comic people are Jewish and what they created or did:
Stan Lee (everything Marvel)
Jack Kirby (same as above and New Gods, Jimmy Olsen, Kamandi, and OMAC)
Joe Shuster (Superman)
Jerry Siegel (Superman)
Gene Colan (Daredevil, Dr. Strange, ...)
Will Wisner (Spirit)
Bill Finger (Batman)
Gil Kane (Green Lantern)
Jeph Loeb (Batman)
Julius Shwartz (Batman, Superman)
Joe Simon (Captain America)
Marv Wolfman (Teen Titans)
Everybody here except Loeb have really shaped comics into what they are. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby almost single-handedly created most of Marvel Comics. Many of the most well-known characters in DC and Marvel Comics were created by Jews. GO JEWS!!!
From: "Religion in comic books" forum discussion, started 24 April 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000072787&tstart=0; viewed 1 May 2006):
Posted: Apr 24, 2006 10:31 PM
Does anyone know if there are any DC Comics characters who are portrayed as being Christian or Catholic in religion?
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 1:34 AM
Despite that many people believe Superman is Jewish because of the curl in his hair (:sighs: people actually say this), Superman has been seen with a Christmas tree in the Kent household (someone mentioned the issue number on this board but I can't remember things like that.
I am not sure what religion he is, and I think DC has tried to stay away from flat out saying his religion. But I am pretty sure he celebrates Christmas.
Posted: Apr 25, 2006 2:06 PM
I do know Superman mentioned his pastor in his "epigraph" to the story with him and Diana fighting in Asgard.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 12:45 AM
Clark celebrates Christmas does not mean he is Catholic or Christian. Everyone in HK [Hong Kong] celebrates X'mas [Christmas] since it has been totally commercialized.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 1:17 AM
Oh come on, Clark landed in Kansas and was found by a farmer couple. Did you really think, he was found by the only atheist farmer couple in Kansas?
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 4:26 AM
Heh. IIRC, in "Superman: The Odyssey", there's a throwaway line about how John Kent never had any use for religion but Martha would always drag him along to attend services anyway.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 4:41 AM
I also would assume that Superman is Protestant as well. Most Kansas folk are. The name Kent though is one of those tricky surnames that is both British and Irish, so there is a slight chance he could be Catholic.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 5:22 AM
Try the Jewish perspective some time. "Kal-El was created by two Jews as an immigrant who can pass for a typical WASP so long as he keeps his heritage and culture a secret; he was sent here like Moses, see, and grew up to be strong like Samson -- whereupon that dark-haired guy with a Hebrew name beat the crap out of Nazis."
He's supposed to be one of ours, dang it.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 8:41 AM
But how did he get circumcised? Did they do that on Krypton before he left?
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 12:14 PM
As for Superman - I remember something about the original character design supposedly being a bad guy for the Nazis. It was after that that the kids decided to make him a hero. But he wasn't meant to be Jewish for a number of reasons.
Unless I see their families come out and say: SUPERMAN IS JEWISH! I just don't buy it. It's nothing more than fan-boy speculation.
I could care either way, it really doesn't matter to me, but it's pretty well established that Superman was not Jewish and was never meant to be Jewish.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 12:24 PM
Me think he doth protest too much? I mean, man, you say you don't care, but you sure are emphatic about what's "well established" and what's "never meant to be."
Maybe Siegel and Shuster and whatever editorial input they had never thought out Superman's religious background. Maybe they meant him to be a mix of Everyman (by putting him in America's heartland) and Uberman (by giving him super-powers).
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 2:40 PM
With the Kents being a farming couple and Smallville now set in Kansas (at least at the time of Our Worlds At War).
There is a high likelihood that Clark was raised in the Mennonite Church (the Amish are a conservative branch of the Mennonites) - otherwise they strike me more as Methodist or maybe Congregationalists.
Posted: Apr 27, 2006 5:11 PM
The Kents have to be Protestants, but not LUTHOR-ANS. HA
From: "Superman Returns", posted 3 May 2006 on the Dean's World blog website (http://www.deanesmay.com/posts/1146632821.shtml; viewed 29 May 2006):
Dean Esmay wrote:
By the way, although I'm NOT the first person to note this, have you ever noticed how Superman is basically a Jewish superhero?
Think on it for a second. He was invented in the 1930s by two immigrant kids in New York whose parents had emigrated from the old country. His "true name" is Kal-El, which in Hebrew basically translates as "Man-God." Clark Kent is basically a nerdy, wimpy guy with glasses, who is struggling to fit in among the normal human beings of Metropolis, which is basically New York in disguise. He's struggling to fit in, struggling to be accepted, and lusting after All-American Lois Lane. Yet secretly, in a crisis, he can rip off his shirt and glasses and become--Superman! And save the day! Because Superman can do anything! Including making the girl-you-can't-have want you!
Two immigrant kids, both under 20, invented Superman. They were named Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, and they were living in New York at the time. Their parents were immigrants, just like Superman, who came to Earth from a distant planet that had been destroyed. They sold the idea to a comics publisher in exchange for a few bucks and a job offer. Yet he's become one of America's most iconic and long-lasting emblems.
Two Jewish immigrant kids from New York, whose parents had fled to America to make new lives for themselves. Is there a more American story?
Jesse Hill, 5.3.2006 3:53am:
[quoting the new "Superman" movie trailer]
Your name is Kal-El.
You are the only survivor of the planet Krypton.
Even though you have been raised, as a human being you are not one of them.
It is now time for you to rejoin your new world, and to serve its collective humanity.
Live as one of them Kal-El, to discover where your strength and your power are needed.
But always hold in your heart the pride, of your special heritage.
They can be a great people Kal-El. They wish to be.
They only lack the light to show the way.
For this reason above all, their capacity for good,
I have sent them you... my only son.
Adam R, 5.3.2006 5:39am:
Nitpick: I'm not sure how you can get "kal" to mean "man" in Hebrew. The only thing I know of is "easy" or "light". If "kal-el" were really meant to be Hebrew, I would translate it as "light-godded" (i.e., who has a light god), or "easy-godded".
Ken McCracken, 5.3.2006 7:53am:
Superman was a Jewish superhero eh?
Maybe that is why he had it in for the Klan:
"Folklorist and author Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the Klan after World War II and provided information on the Klan to media and law enforcement agencies. He also provided Klan information, including secret code words, to the writers of the Superman radio program, resulting in a series of four episodes in which Superman took on the KKK. Kennedy intended to strip away the Klan's mystique and the trivialization of the Klan's rituals and code words likely did have a negative impact on Klan recruiting and membership."
Buddy, 5.3.2006 8:39am:
There are a couple of possible meanings, possibly, but the one that makes the most sense is probably the following:
qal kal light; (by implication) rapid (also adverbially): - light, swift (-ly).
Dean Esmay, 5.3.2006 8:45am:
Is Kal possibly Yiddish for man, rather than Hebrew? Because I've read this multiple places, and am surprised to hear it debunked now.
Michael Demmons, 5.3.2006 9:35am:
re: "Superman was a Jewish superhero eh?... Maybe that is why he had it in for the Klan"
Somebody's been reading Freakonomics! :-)
Casey Tompkins, 5.3.2006 11:37am:
Thanks to Jesse for posting the words from the trailer, which leads me to ask:
Am I the only one who notices that Kal-El is a Christ figure? Go back and re-read that last bit:
They can be a great people Kal-El. They wish to be.
They only lack the light to show the way.
For this reason above all, their capacity for good,
I have sent them you... my only son.
Um, hello... ;)
Ronald Coleman, 5.3.2006 12:23pm:
No, Dean, it's not Yiddish. Yiddish for man is mensch or mann.
Derek, 5.3.2006 12:31pm:
Let me add another "twist" to the name game.
Siegel and Shuster named him "Kal-L", no E. The E was added in the 1940s, at the same time that John and Mary Kent became Jonathan and Martha Kent.
So I'm not sure that linguistic analysis of his name means much.
Bryan Costin, 5.3.2006 12:58pm:
Casey, I'm with you. Superman has an awful lot in common with Christ. In fact, I think can combine these two perspectives and say that Superman is a model for the more active, interventionist, and Kingly sort of Savior that many Jews were wishing for in times of oppression.
Ronald Coleman, 5.3.2006 3:24pm:
I think Derek's right on the names. Jor-El, dad o' Superman, has no hope. There is no Hebrew or Yiddish equivalent to the English "J" sound, though if you read the J as a "Y" sound, as in German, you do get the root Y-R in Hebrew which means "awe."
Brian Tiemann, 5.3.2006 5:06pm:
Superman as a Jewish superhero is a well-known concept; it was in fact put forth by the creators as a deliberate, pseudo-satirical response to Hitler's "Ubermensch" stuff.
Adam R, 5.3.2006 8:42pm:
I googled around regarding the Hebrew meaning of "Kal-El". Some also claim it's "Voice of God" or something like "All of God". Both of those are close; they would be "kol", not "kal". It seems to me that someone was trying to force one more piece of evidence that doesn't quite fit into the theory.
Casey Tompkins, 5.4.2006 12:24am:
Being a history geek, I found this site [http://theages.superman.ws/comics.php] a while back. It's chock-full of all sorts of nifty Superman history.
Did you know that originally "Superman" was meant in the Nietzschean sense, as in the culmination of millions of years of evolution?
From: "Jewish Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 15 May 2006 on the IGN.com website (http://boards.ign.com/Comics_General_Board/b5033/117625205/?16; viewed 19 June 2006):
Date Posted: 5/15 8:38am
Subject: Jewish Comic Book Characters.
You think Magneto had a Bar Mitzvah? ...I definitely think Doc Samson did.
What other Jewish comic characters you can think of?
Date Posted: 5/15 11:32pm
Umm... Superman. You know that whole Kill Bill speech. Pretty accurate to the truth of his creation, except the joke was that Jews thought walking around like a square would make them fit in with the Christian majority.
Date Posted: 5/16 12:36am
That Superman thing from Kill Bill it total BS. Kal-El was raised as Clark Kent by human parents, so the Clark Kent part of him is real, not an act. The bumbling reporter thing isn't a critique at all because he doesn't look down on us like that. It's a disguise and nothing more.
The Kill Bill thing is Dr. Phil horse**** from someone who doesn't get the character at all and didn't put more than five minutes of thought into what he was saying. I suspect a bong was involved.
[Grant] Morrison got it right in the first issue of All Star Superman.
Date Posted: 5/16 12:57am
Sorry, Risk, but Clark Kent was a disguise. The real Clark Kent was on the farm, he was raised as a human but always under the realization that he was NOT one of them. While he had human values, he lacked human frailties. The Clark Kent that everyone outside of Smallville saw pre-Crisis was a bumbling idiot designed to reflect the frailties of the human condition and to be everything HE WAS NOT.
So, to say he was a critique of humanity is not so far off. Clark Kent, more accurately, is a critique of everything that Superman does not believe he is.
Date Posted: 5/16 1:04am
You're full of it. "Human frailties" are largely emotional. The fact that bullets can hurt us does not define us.
The bumbling reporter thing is an act for people he doesn't have personal relationships with. He was raised a human from infancy, not as a Kryptonian. And those are the only options for what he can be culturally - human or Kryptonian.
I don't know why everyone loses their mind when talking about Superman and Batman's identities. It's the biggest bunch of Dr. Phil crap I've ever heard.
You might as well not even argue about this with me because this is something I'm not going to budge an inch on.
Date Posted: 5/16 2:40am
I'm gonna have to agree with risk on this one. Completely. And it's made even more apparent with the current arc than ever before. Superman might be ingrained in him, but he was happy to not have to do the Superman thing.
Date Posted: 5/16 7:14am
I was just using Kill Bill so stupid people could follow. But I am serious about Superman's origin as a "Jew" in a sense. After reading Kavalier and Clay, I did a bunch of research on the Man of Steel's beginnings.
In the early part of the 20th century, it wasn't so easy to be a Jewish immigrant. And while Jews gathered in the same communities, many, particularly younger Jews, were eager to fit in. Superman is basically a power fantasy, that a Jew can: a) be the most powerful person on the planet, who fights for justice, etc. b) Blend in and be accepted by an alien society, in part by dressing like them.
From: "Superheroes and Religion" forum discussion, started 17 May 2006 on the HERO Games website (http://www.herogames.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-42820.html; viewed 12 July 2007):
Mar 17th, '06, 10:51 AM
Ever wonder what religion you favorite hero is? Check this out.
Mar 19th, '06, 03:30 PM
That's a cool and somewhat funny site. It's fair to estimate what religion a fictional character is based on his/her philosophy. Someone who believes in a God that hammers evildoers would lead a tense life, but have no problem hammering others. An atheist would be under no such pressure: They just behave morally (for the sake of goodness?) and that behavior might be difficult to distinguish from one who sincerely believed in a loving, caring God.
I agree that Superman is of the Protestant stripe. I think they had him seeking advice from Catholic priests mainly because of visuals: the priests are easier to distinguish by dress and the churches tend to be more ornate. Protestant ministers wear ordinary clothes, and unless [they are seen] toting a massive Bible, aren't obviously religious. And, in a pinch, hopefully all priests/ministers are trained so well that they can give sound moral advice and comfort when called upon...
Mar 21st, '06, 10:04 PM
My own opinion is that comic book characters' faith, like their political party preference, is often kept vague on purpose in an attempt to make their appeal more universal.
Mar 22nd, '06, 12:49 AM
I tend to think that most characters are one sort of Christian or another unless specifically named as something else. In the "it's fiction" category, non-human characters are probably following whatever religion they were raised with.
Superman is a weird case. [He was] raised Christian, [he] may or may not have practiced a Kryptonian religion at one point, and [he] has run into a long list of godlike beings, ghosts, apparent angels, and apparent demons. [He] has also visited multiple heavens and hells. I'd suspect he's some sort of Agnostic at this point.
Mar 22nd, '06, 04:03 AM
As most heroes are American, I do assume a WASP [White Anglo-Saxon Protestant] background [for most super-heroes], unless otherwise indicated.
Mar 22nd, '06, 03:18 PM
Isn't there some Elseworlds comic in which Superman was raised by Amish farmers? Might be worth hunting down, if the Amish part actually plays a role in the story and is respectfully handled.
Mar 22nd, '06, 03:30 PM
Amish Superman really isn't that much of a stretch. When you're invulnerable to mundane harm and strong enough to move worlds, total non-violence isn't a problem. Cosmic foes could kill him, but otherwise it's almost the same character.
Amish Batman, on the other hand, makes me smile. :)
Mar 23rd, '06, 06:36 AM
I can see a Superman variant who takes the Amish shunning of technology to a whole new level. Not only does he shun technology, he shuns its effects. He is invulnerable to any harm/effect produced by technology. A gun wouldn't hurt him but Joe Goon's right hook could.
From: "An argument for why religion should stay out of comics" forum discussion, started 17 May 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000076170&start=120; viewed 16 June 2006):
Posted: Jun 14, 2006 12:01 PM
Wow, so I guess my question would be what comics do you read, because in my mind Spider-Man, Superman, Star Wars, Batman... the list could go on and on, but the point is they use some concept of religion. If you break everything down into the Ten Commandments you pretty much cover all comic book concepts. For example "With great power comes great responsibility" is very much based in religion. How about super-heroes never killing but once Wonder Woman did? We went bonkers. Batman trying to honor his parents by never letting something like that happen to anyone else. I don't know if I think religion has a place in comics but, It's already there.
From: "NY Times outs Batwoman. DUH SPOILERS!!!!!" forum discussion, started 27 May 2006 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-27770.html; viewed 23 July 2007):
May 28th, 2006, 09:11 AM
I feel like DC is tying to be an advocate... Is DC just wanting quick media attention? If this were truly about diversity where is the devote Christian hero? What about a Pro-Life Republican? A priest that takes a vow of poverty to fight poverty?
For years people have praised or criticize liberal Hollywood. Are we now looking at a Liberal DC comics?
May 28th, 2006, 10:20 AM
Christian hero? I'm sorry but aren't a good majority of heroes Christian?
May 28th, 2006, 06:04 PM
But the point is that there are a majority of Christian characters in DC comics that already exist, so there's no "diversity" in creating more of the same...
May 28th, 2006, 06:36 PM
Really? One might make a case for a general "good works ethical monotheism", but how many have made on page confessional statments of Christ being their personal Lord and Savior? To assume that these characters are Christian is akin to assuming that any male character without a girlfriend is gay. Is that good enough?
May 28th, 2006, 06:49 PM
Did you click that link in my last post? It uses evidence from the various appearances the characters have made to determine what denomination they belong to.
May 28th, 2006, 07:05 PM
I've seen it, and I'll reiterate that I believe that the number of confessional Christians in mainstream comics is equal to, or less than the number of openly homosexual characters.
May 28th, 2006, 07:12 PM
Thanks for the link. It is interesting. But religion is not shown in their everyday life. We see the gay lifestyle, but when was the last time we saw Dick Grayson (Christian) at a Baptism, Batman (Catholic) attend mass, Hal Jordan go to confession, or Superman darken the doorway of a church?
Come to think of it, Smallville is the only small rural town that does not have a church on every other corner.
May 28th, 2006, 07:48 PM
You're right that it wouldn't hurt to see things like that more often (except Batman going to church, I get the sense that he's lapsed). I still don't think we see more of the "gay lifestyle" than Christianity overall though.
May 28th, 2006, 08:35 PM
re: "...or Superman darken the doorway of a church?"
re: "Come to think of it, Smallville is the only small rural town that does not have a church on every other corner."
Religion has been conspicuous by its absence from the Super-books from the get-go, probably because Siegel and Shuster were both Jewish (and knew better than to try to give Supes that affiliation!).
May 28th, 2006, 08:56 PM
Not to mention, why would an alien believe in the same fables and religions of man? Especially religions that not too long ago refused to believe that there were other universes out there beside our own.
[EDITOR: This poster seems to be using something of a "straw man" argument. There is no evidence that Earth-based religions generally teach that there is no intelligent life aside from people on Earth.]
Do we expect the Martian Manhunter to be a Christian or Jew? It might make humans feel good, but it is altogether unrealistic.
May 28th, 2006, 09:09 PM
True enough as regards J'Onn J'Onzz. As for Superman, he was raised as a human by humans, and presumably learned whatever faith Jonathan and Martha Kent practiced. But learning that he was an alien from a distant planet may well have shaken that faith.
He still believes in the basic goodness of human/humanoid/sapient nature, though, despite all too many experiences to the contrary.
From: "Batwoman Is Back as a Lesbian" forum discussion, started 1 June 2006 on The Giant in the Playground website (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=comics;action=print;num=1149174700; viewed 12 June 2006):
Post by Ing on Jun 2nd, 2006, 11:17am
Technically "fundamentalist" isn't a religion; it's a point of view... but I think you meant Evangelical Christians. Some include:
Superman: with the small town Christian values...
From: Sheridan Voysey, "Denominational Affiliations of Superheroes", posted 2 June 2006 on The Open House (life, faith, culture) blog website (http://www.theopenhouse.net.au/2006/07/denominational_affiliations_of.html; viewed 19 June 2007):
With all the hoopla this week of the Superman Returns movie, you might be interested to know that almost all our superheroes have some kind of denominational affiliation. Baptist, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic - you'll find connections in the storylines of our best hooded, caped, spandex-covered, super-people.
Superman - Methodist
Let's start with Superman - the blue-tights-and-red-undies-wearing man of steel himself, who is reported to be a Methodist. This has never been explicitly stated in any way, but the reasoning goes like this: Clark Kent was raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent who live in the strongly Methodist Mid-Western area of the United States. The Kents are regularly portrayed praying, going to church, and saying things like 'well, if the Lord wants it to happen, He'll make it happen'. As an adult Superman hasn't been a regular churchgoer, but he has, however, occasionally visited ministers of various Christian denominations for counsel, guidance, and even confession.
Supergirl and Superboy - Methodist
Do you remember Supergirl? Generally considered Superman's female counterpart, Supergirl first appeared in 1958 and several variations of her have appeared in comic books since then. But during the late 80s and 90s, Supergirl was an active Methodist. Her minister, the Reverend Larry Varvel, was based on a real-life Methodist minister of the same name.
And did you ever hear of Superboy? He was a clone made from the DNA of Superman and Lex Luthor. Like Superman, Superboy was also raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, and while not particularly religious, he often wondered about the state of his soul, and once uttered what appeared to be a prayer to God asking that fundamental question, "Why am I here?"
Superman's other close colleagues have denominational connections too. Jimmy Olson is a Lutheran, Lois Lane is a Catholic, Perry is a Baptist, and Lex Luthor is Jewish (although a non-observant one, as Jews today thankfully remember).
...So, Dr Bruce Banner, The Incredible Hulk, is a lapsed Catholic; Batman is a possible Anglican; Superman is a Methodist, and Spider-Man an unnamed Protestant. I'd like to know what a Presbyterian superhero would look like, or even a Pentecostal!
Superman consults Christian ministers when he needs advice; Supergirl regularly attends church; Superboy asks God what he's doing here; The Hulk believes in an afterlife, and Spider-Man prays.
It seems even Superheroes need to bow the knee for some divine help every now and then.
From: Frank Murphy, "tough cut for the mohel", posted 11 June 2006 on the FrankMurphy.com blog website (http://www.frankmurphy.com/fmblog.htm; viewed 16 June 2006):
In a Reuters story [link to: http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=filmNews&storyID=2006-06-10T002440Z_01_N09230684_RTRIDST_0_FILM-LEISURE-SUPERMAN-DC.XML] over the weekend, "Superman Returns" director Bryan Singer refuted the theory put forth by "The Advocate" that the man of steel is gay. The theory is partly based on the way Superman stands with his hands on his hips and seems to ignore Clark Kent's longing for Lois Lane. Singer told Reuters that Superman is probably the most heterosexual character in any movie he's ever made. We can get a good idea if the S really does stand for straight on Monday night when A&E airs a special about Superman which will have a sneak preview of the film.
I thought that David Waters was going to weigh in on the debate over Superman's straightness when I saw his article [link to: http://www.shns.com/shns/g_index2.cfm?action=detail&pk=FAITH-FAITH-06-07-06] in the religion section of yesterday's paper. Instead, he brought up a new debate. Is Superman Jewish or Methodist? I didn't see that coming.
From: "No Sunday School In Smallville", posted 12 June 2006 on the Tales to Mildly Astonish blog website (http://talestomildlyastonish.blogspot.com/2006/06/no-sunday-school-in-smallville.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
There's only a few defenses I could give for the obscurity of genuine religious practice in comic books. It's difficult to reconcile the competing claims of say, Thor with those of Christianity (in the comic book world, at least). It's also difficult because each hero is supposed to maintain a broad appeal. Now I'm of the opinion that most of us are reasonable adults and you could make a favorite hero a Muslim, a Buddhist, an atheist, or a Christian without driving away readers as long as it was treated intelligently. But because religious values are so dearly held, I do wonder if it wouldn't alienate a Jewish reader if Superman was a Christian or a Christian reader if he was an atheist...
The way to get around this difficulty is to avoid the specific faith of the real icons like Superman (Supes has been treated consistently in the last few decades as a Christ figure, and also once as a Golem in a fitting tribute to his creators. But I see no reason why you wouldn't emphasize the Catholicism of Nightcrawler or the Jewish faith of Kitty. It didn't repel fans of X2 in the first example.
From: "Holy Superheroes" forum discussion, started 12 June 2006 on the BeliefNet website (http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
[From: reader comments accompanying "Holy Superheroes" article, written by Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, posted 12 June 2006 on BeliefNet.com website; reprint of "Beliefwatch: Good Fight" article published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue]
6/13/2006 12:09:02 AM
I always thought of Superman as a Jewish character. I mean c'mon his name is "Kal-El". But I always thought he was some sort of Protestant Christian by faith due to his adoptive earth parents. I don't think Superman originally was a Jesus figure. in the original comics, he struck me more as a Moses figure. Someone whose parents ship him off when their people are being destroyed, he's picked up, adopted, raised among natives, and then uses his powers for good, justice, truth.
6/13/2006 2:57:59 AM
It just made of person and let him be whatever the reader of that moment wish him to be. Honestly people get a life and realized it does not matter really. Let us debate things that do matter rather than a made-up story. I personally think this movie will not be good since it is taking a new view of Superman.
6/13/2006 11:34:54 AM
Actually Superman is based on the story of Moses. His creators said that much. His Earth parents are vaguely Christian.
6/13/2006 3:14:15 PM
What a great topic! As with other types of diversity -- race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. -- readers like to see themselves represented in comics.
It's also good for comic books to represent minority groups in mainstream media, simply because it helps humanize a group that the majority might not be familiar with. For example, the Thing from the Fantastic Four was an early Jewish superhero (whether it was well-known or not).
Just like anything, religion is an aspect of a person's identity and adds a layer of interest and complexity to their story.
6/14/2006 10:11:02 AM
Granted Superman is based on Moses, I would propose that Spider-Man has some deep roots in David. His struggles and angst over friends and family seem to bear a resemblance to David's.
Drpsionic raised an interesting question - what do you suppose the belief backgrounds are for super-villains? The Red Skull, Lex Luther, and Doc Octopus must have some history or belief that supports (or torments?) them. Any thoughts? ...
From: Steve Kurian, "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters", posted 12 June 2006 on the Steve Kurian: engineer... wandering skeptic... street theologian blog website (http://stevenkurian.blogspot.com/2006/06/religious-affiliation-of-comic-book.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Steve Kurian is a self-identified Eastern Orthodox Christian.]
(Because you really needed to know)
I'm not really this into comic books, but as this is the Summer movie season, comic book characters have been coming up over and over again. So apparently Adherents.com has categorized the religious affiliation of a good number of comic book heroes, obscure and otherwise... Superman is a Methodist, Batman is a lapsed Episcopalian or Catholic, and The Thing is Jewish, just to name a few.
From: Chris Well, "Comic Book Faith", posted 13 June 2006 on the Learning Curve blog website (http://chriswellnovelist.blogspot.com/2006/06/comic-book-faith.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
Beliefnet has an interesting piece [link to: http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html] on the religious affiliation of various comic book characters, with links to essays that use actual story instances to make each case. The roundup includes Superman (Methodist), Wolverine (Buddhist) and The Thing (Jewish), among others.
From: "Superman as Christian Allegory? The religion of Comics" forum discussion, started 14 June 2006 on the Military.com website (http://forums.military.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/672198221/m/8000028270001/p/1; viewed 20 June 2006):
Oh I plan on seeing Superman (mostly because I love Bryan Singer's work, and he was sorely missed on the last X-men movie), but my opinion is that as the years went the story of Superman took on Christ-like meaning for some rather then it being there to begin with. It was much more a Moses allegory as written by it's Jewish co-creators.
He's the only son of a powerful far away entity. He has supernatural powers, and an overwhelming desire to do good. He comes from the heavens, and is delivered to a childless couple.
Um hello! Could you get any more Biblical if you tried!
He was sent into the unknown in a craft to save his life, adopted, raised to manhood and must then discover who he really is. Again, the creators of Superman were 2 Jewish men. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Later writers created stories that more pointedly made comparisons between Christ and Superman, but the original creators were echoing Moses in their story.
From: Joshua, "Superhero Religions", posted 14 June 2006 on the Carpathian Kitten Loss blog website (http://kittenloss.blogspot.com/2006/06/superhero-religions.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
In this week's Newsweek periscope [link to Newsweek article: "Belief Watch: Good Fight", http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/], there is an odd piece on the religions and presumed religions of superheroes. In fact it lists them, though mostly based on guesses. It also compares Superman to Jesus Christ, which I suppose sort of works, except not really because Jesus didn't fight and shoot lasers from his eyes. Still, I see where they are coming from.
Not sure what brought this up now, but I thought it was pretty funny if not weird. For most comic book characters, their religion is deliberately never mentioned in the books, because who cares?
According to the list, which is taken from a website called Beliefnet.com [link to http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html] Superman is Methodist/Kryptonian, Spider-Man is Protestant and Batman's either Episcopalian or a lapsed Catholic (huh?)
In the Jewish corner is the Thing, Kitty Pryde and villain Magneto.
In all honesty, I think as a kid I'd have been happier not knowing.
The irony, if that's the right word, is that most of the early comic heroes were created by Jewish artists. They did Superman, Spider-Man, the X-men and apparently Batman.
Superman, whose Kryptonian name is Hebrew-as are those of his parents-was a relatively clear metaphor for the mid 20th century Jewish immigrant experience. He left a war ravaged nation for a new country, where like many of these comic book creators, he reinvented himself with an Anglo-American name. Growing up in the midwest of course he'd be Christian, though I would have assumed Lutheran.
The most interesting thing I turned up while doing a Google search for this post is that in the movie Superman II, after Superman rescues a young boy, a woman behind him can be overheard saying, "What a nice man. Of course he's Jewish."
From: Jan Edmiston, "Where Would Mutator Worship?", posted 14 June 2006 on the "A Church for Starving Artists" on Presbyterian Bloggers website (http://churchforstarvingartists.blogspot.com/2006/06/where-would-mutator-worship.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Jan Edmiston is a self-identified Presbyterian.]
Let's turn our attention to superheroes -- both male and female. Little did we know that they had religious affiliations.
Newsweek reported this week that Superman is Methodist and The Thing is Jewish. You, too, can find the affiliation of your favorite Super Hero at [link to Adherents.com website]...
From: Bill Craig, "Comic Faith", posted 14 June 2006 on the Bill Craig blog website (http://billcraig.blogspot.com/2006/06/comic-faith.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Bill Craig is the founding and senior pastor of Summit Trace Church in Frederick, Maryland.]
In a recent article of the latest Newsweek Magazine, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/ under "Belief Watch" I discovered that many of my childhood comic book superheroes are "religious". Now I don't know what church they may attend and even if I did I would have to be discrete to protect their identity. What fascinates me is that as super as they are they still place a faith in something greater than they are. Newsweek tells me that Peter Parker is a Protestant, Superman is Methodist -- that Midwest clean look gave him away... http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html You can see a complete list here.
From: Daniel Pulliam, "Religion in comic books", posted 14 June 2006 on the Get Religion blog website (http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1679; viewed 14 June 2006):
[Reader comments section for this article]
Posted by Katie Q at 11:59 am on June 14, 2006:
As a fairly religious comic reader, this sort of stuff has always been of interest to me. Unfortunately, comic book religion is of a messy and flexible substance, tending to vary from writer to writer in any given series. No hero, even the ones with a noted religion, is devout. Of course, the iconic and universal nature of super heroes precludes any of the major characters being overtly religious (save Wonder Woman, who practices an unorthodox religion, to say the least); most heroes who actually do have a religion at all tend to have ones that are ethnically defined. Thus, Elektra is Greek Orthodox, Italian-American Huntress (from Birds of Prey) is Catholic, and there are a small number of nationalistic Jewish and Muslim heroes.
Other than the iconic nature of the characters, the universes they live in tend to discourage religion. These characters regularly fight with or alongside demons, gods, and magical beings of all kinds -- none of whom seem to acknowledge the existence of a higher deity; not to mention that the universe is regularly threatened with destruction, and no "God" ever intervenes or even seems to notice. (One exception to this is the recent introduction of a guardian angel-turned-super hero named Zauriel to the Justice League.) So on the whole, comic book reality itself is hostile to any traditional, dogmatic definition of God.
Posted by girlfriday at 12:42 pm on June 14, 2006:
I am not a comic book reader so I may be accused of being a poser.
But if the super-hero movies are any indication then I agree with Katie that a traditional, dogmatic definition of God is lacking. But these movies, almost exclusively it seems, clearly delineate between good and evil. The baddies seek destruction; the goodies, the best for mankind. The baddies pursue outcomes that will benefit only themselves; the goodies seek justice. For the baddies, the ends always justify the means; for the goodies, even the death of a bystander is a minor tragedy. The baddies kill; the goodies save.
These are shades of Judeo Christian ethics.
(Though the public still operates under the myth that Jesus came, like Superman, to "show us our capacity for good." The cross seems superfluous then, doesn't it?)
Posted by Katie Q at 1:33 pm on June 14, 2006:
Absolutely. Comics are steeped in ethics and morals of a Judeo-Christian origin. I didn't mean to make it sound like comics are an intentionally godless art; heck, a long-running super hero, The Spectre, is the actual Wrath of God incarnate, and his series has often been used to explore issues on a cosmic level.
Comics have always implemented religion, both in symbols and spirit, in their stories and characters (To think of a weird example, in the DC Universe, where Batman and Superman live, Adolf Hitler used the spear Christ was pierced with to stave off heroes from invading Europe in WWII.). It's just that religion in a doctrinal or even an organizational sense (and therefore, "God") doesn't exist in comics much at all. It's not a bad thing, per se; just, on a personal level, it makes it difficult for me to believe the reality of the stories.
Posted by Avram at 1:41 pm on June 14, 2006:
...Superman's native Kryptonian name is Kal-El - and "el" is Hebrew for "of God" and comes at the end of many angels' names...
Posted by Tyler Simons at 4:52 am on June 16, 2006:
Bill's speech about Superman at the end of Kill Bill V.2 has Christological overtones, I think:
Superman stands alone. Superman did not become Superman, Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he is Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red S is the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears, the glasses the business suit, that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak, unsure of himself. . . he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race, sort of like Beatrix Kiddo and Mrs. Tommy Plumpton.
Posted by Creighton at 7:52 am on June 16, 2006:
Yes, it Superman is a Christ figure who in the early nineties died to save the world from an unbeatable foe and came back to life. This is obvious. . . but of course he fails on so many levels. After his supposed resurrection, Superman makes the decision to kill and must live with the psychological trauma that comes from this act. Then he is in a galactic war that traumatizes him even more.
Superman is not what he was. Less in power and in morals, the image he had from the 1950 into the 90's has been lost. Something like the moral climate of our society.
Posted by c.tower at 8:22 am on June 16, 2006:
As for Superman: when anyone mentions him, I have to ask: WHICH SUPERMAN ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? Forget his close to 70 year history: THIS YEAR ALONE, the public will see the new movie, the ongoing SMALLVILLE TV series, TWO seperate animated versions (the just-ended JUSTICE LEAGUE series, and the upcoming LEGION OF SUPERHEROES fall series), and the comic book version- which just ended a storyline (INFINITE CRISIS) featuring multiple incarnations of the character! I find the title SUPERMAN RETURNS ironic; the character's never gone away (He's appeared in at least 7 TV series in the past 20 years!) Is Superman the Messiah? If he isn't, just wait five minutes and a new one will show up. What's interesting about this is really how GENERIC he is, with no interesting quirks or even a decent "Rogue's Gallery" of villains. It's as if people WANT him to be blank, so they can turn him into whatever they want. . .
Posted by Katie Q at 9:53 am on June 16, 2006:
...And, also, as we've stated multiple times, comics work best in metaphor. As plenty of you guys have noted, Superman is a messiah figure (though, personally I like to think of him more as the Ultimate Immigrant)...
Wade Rockett says:
June 30, 2006, at 3:23 pm
SF writer Cory Doctorow portrayed a culturally Jewish Superman in his short story "The Super-Man and the Bugout". (His secret identity is Hershie Abromowicz, and he catches hell from his mother whenever he's late for Sabbath dinner.) Unfortunately, it doesn't touch on religion except to poke a little fun at Quaker peace activists.
I've noticed that the Marvel Comics universe tends more toward polytheism, whereas the DC universe is sort of Manichaean - there's God, a personal supreme force of Good who commands angels and to whom people pray under various names; and there's a Hell populated with demons and the souls of the damned, ruled by the fallen angel Lucifer. But in one Swamp Thing Annual by Alan Moore, a supreme force of Evil that is said to have existed alongside the Light before the beginning of time enters the universe and threatens to destroy it. It's a fascinating story, as the major supernatural characters in DC comics answer the evil entity's question, "What am I?" in different ways. The climax suggests that Good and Evil have a symbiotic relationship.
One great superhero comic that tackles religion head-on is the Nexus "God Con" miniseries, in which gods both major and minor gather at a conference to discuss and settle the Problem of Evil. I loaned the series to my priest, who noted that the only god that Nexus addresses as "Lord" is Jesus -- and two other gods who show up claiming to be Jesus are dismissed as false Christs and banished by Him with a word. Best moment: Jesus greets Yahweh with, "Hi, Dad."
From: "Super Hero Religions" forum discussion, started 15 June 2006 on the RonFez.net website, home of Ron & Fez radio show (http://www.ronfez.net/forums/archive/index.php/t-50765.html; viewed 11 June 2007):
06-15-2006, 02:10 PM
Ron and Fez did an awesome bit on this years ago... Popular Comic Book Heroes Faith-by-Faith...
06-15-2006, 04:36 PM
Excuse me, but Superman is Catholic. Most super-heroes are. Why? Because you can't be a hero if your a Evangelical Protestant. Simply how do you be a hero if you defy the absolute truth of the Bible. He is a Catholic, raised on strong Catholic morals. He was an altar boy, darn it, not an Evangelical Catholic, but a Catholic darn it!
06-15-2006, 04:48 PM
So there was a Kryptonian Jesus? You think he would have mentioned that the planet was going to blow up at some point? [Not a very effective] savior!
From: "MSNBC talks religion of superheroes" forum discussion, started 15 June 2006 on the BKV.TV website (http://www.bkv.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=117679&sid=4ea823f1318d399750740ae4287a02f5; viewed 6 June 2007):
Brian K. Vaughan
Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:22 pm
MSNBC talks religion of superheroes
Also references this page: http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html
Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:43 pm
I heavily dislike defining Superman's religion, because I feel it takes something away from him, limits the character and the whole ideal behind him. My personal image of Superman has always been one of "all faiths," if there is such a thing.
And Batman is a very lapsed Episcopalian/Catholic. First off, the entire idea behind Batman is self-fulfillment through rigorous training and secondly, I honestly don't believe he, if he does believe in a God that isn't just some warped cosmic non-omnipotent deity (he has meet plenty of "Gods" but none of them have been all-powerful or all-knowing), does not resent God for not only what has happened to him, but what has happen to millions and millions of people. I mean, he blames Superman for not helping enough sometimes, so how do you think he'd feel about an omnipotent entity?
One might want to know though that Deadman, Boston Brand, has actually meet the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna, so I always assumed that all the Gods, no matter the religion, existed in the DC universe, which is why there aren't a lot of religious discussion or attempted conversion between the characters, I mean, why try to convince someone that one religion is more valid than the other, when all the Gods have been proven to exist? That's not to say characters haven't converted, just that converting is more about finding a religion that suits that characters' sensibilities.
And Adherents.com's section on this topic, as mentioned in the article, is pretty good...
Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:53 pm
[Quoting from Newsweek/MSNBC article posted at top of forum discussion.] "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. "A heavenly father sends his only son to save the Earth; in his mission or ministry, he will fight for truth and justice; he will die and be resurrected; he will ascend into heaven, and now is the time of his second coming," says Stephen Skelton, author of a new book "The Gospel According to the World's Greatest Superhero." "This is the story of Superman."
Um, no father sent anyone anywhere to save anything in Superman.
Wasn't baby alien Kent sent because his home planet was being destroyed? Wasn't he just sent to be protected?
Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 5:28 pm
I think it's kind of mixed. Above all, Jor-El sends his son off in the ship so that the boy may live. However, in several interpretations of the origin, Jor-El and Lara are aware of the planet they are sending their child to, and how it will affect his physiology. So in a way, they know what potential lies there and that he could be either a savior or a tyrant; but I don't believe they intended for their son to be a messiah, rather just the opportunity to be his own man.
That said though, with the themes involved I think it's hard to not at least mention the parallels.
Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:58 am
Keep in mind that they specifically reference the 1978 movie. I haven't seen it (well, not since I was a kid and I can't remember any of it so it's as good as not seeing it) but I think it's the same quote as they're using in the current trailers.
That being said, I do think that Waid kind of wrote in a knowledge on Jor-El's behalf that Kal-El would be a god on Earth in Birthright (but I can't recall if there was anything in there about giving him a mission so to speak).
Regardless, this is a pretty neat article!
Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:08 pm
If Superman is Jesus, then Superman in Jewish...
Superman = Jesus : Jesus = Jewish :: Superman = Jewish
Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 8:04 am
I've always thought of Superman's story as being more an allegory for the Jewish immigrant experience in America. He comes from a far away place, with a very ethnic name, Kal-El, to the heartland of America where he becomes the very WASP-y Clark Kent. He's even clothed in the colors of the American flag, minus any white...
Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 9:45 am
Superman isn't Jesus. That's just some retarded, modern, english lit class interpretation.
Superman is a sick ass superhero, with super strength, laser eyes, really cold breath and a spandex suit. Embrace it.
David the Amazin'(Mighty)
Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 11:21 am
While there have definitely been Christ allusions to Superman lately (the whole "coming back from the dead thing") I tend to find more comparisons to Moses.
Both were last of dying breeds (Superman of Krypton, while Moses was the lone survivor of his generation of children. Pharaoh had ordered all Jewish male babies killed, which is why his mother...well that my next point)
The whole rocket coming to Earth, Moses placed in a basket through the Nile thing.
Both were adopted.
Both have Hebrew names. Moses or Moshe means "drawn out of the water" (back to that whole basket in the nile thing) while Kal-El is basically two different ways of saying God, without saying god (which is taboo to use as per the whole "don't take the lord's name in vain" thing).
Both eventually discovered their true heritage, and it changed their lives.
and um... both fought evil bald men (sorry BKV) Lex Luthor and Yul Brenner!
...Just my 2 cents.
Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 12:26 pm
After reading this, my assumption about Superman in my first post makes more sense now. http://bkv.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=91804&highlight=#91804
From: "Super Religion", posted 15 June 2006 on the Paulie's Posts blog website (http://pauliesposts.blogspot.com/2006/06/super-religion.html; viewed 23 June 2006):
Here's a neat theory: Your favorite superhero is religious. www.beliefnet.com has created a chart that lists the faith of each superhero. For example, Superman could be a Jew. He did come to life from two Jewish cartoonists and battled the Nazis. Also, he's compared to the golem myth by some scholars. Don't worry, he's not Jewish, he's believed to be Methodist... Check out the chart to see what your favorite superhero is.
[Link to: http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html]
From: Allen, "Super-Jew? Super-Methodist?", posted 15 June 2006 on the It Came from Allen's Brain blog website (http://allens-brain.blogspot.com/2006/06/super-jew-super-methodist.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
Because what could be important than nailing down the religious faith of a fictitious character?
[Followed by link to and contents from June 2006 Newsweek/BeliefNet.com article "BeliefWatch: Good Fight."
From: Wretchard, "My Heart Shall Never Rest...", posted 15 June 2006 on The Belmont Club blog website (http://fallbackbelmont.blogspot.com/2006/06/my-heart-shall-never-rest.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
And if that wasn't enough, Pajamas Media [link to: http://pajamasmedia.com/2006/06/by_the_hoary_hosts_of_hoggoth.php] points to a website [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] that reveals the religious affiliation of many of the most famous superheroes based on the illustrations in the comics themselves. Batman is Episcopalian/Catholic; Superman is Methodist; The Thing is Jewish; and Dust is of course Sunni Muslim. Don't believe it, huh? Well, neither did I, but it's true.
From: PJM in Sydney, "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth", posted 15 June 2006 on the Pajamas Media blog website (http://pajamasmedia.com/2006/06/by_the_hoary_hosts_of_hoggoth.php; viewed 16 June 2006):
What's Batman's religion? Episcopalian/Catholic according to this website [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the faiths of many different superheroes including Superman (Methodist), The Thing (Jewish) and Dust (Sunni Muslim). The religions assigned are based on internal evidence from the comic books themselves.
From: MidnightRanter, "Villains and Votes", posted 15 June 2006 on the Internet Free DC blog website (http://midnightranter.livejournal.com/64702.html; viewed 16 June 2006):
No, this is not the usually rant about the terrible things that people do to get votes or the terrible things people do while in office. This was inspired by an article on CNN about superheroes and religion [link to: http://www.cnn.com/2006/SHOWBIZ/Movies/06/14/film.supermanchristfigure.ap/index.html]. There was a similar article on MSNBC. All the same points were made about Superman being a Messianic figure, despite the fact he was created by two Jewish writers. The MSNBC article [link to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/] goes into even more detail about other superheroes' religions...
From: Mirtika, "Is Superman a Methodist?", posted 15 June 2006 on the Mirathon blog website (http://mirathon.blogspot.com/2006/06/is-superman-methodist.html; viewed 15 June 2006):
Is Superman Jewish, Methodist, or a Christ figure? Newsweek is examining the matter.
A discussion on this has popped up on the Christian Fandom mail list. And I came across the subject over at GetReligion...
From: conger, "Which superhero would you see on Sunday?", posted 15 June 2006 on the Think Tankers blog website (http://thinktankers.wordpress.com/2006/06/15/which-superhero-would-you-see-on-sunday/; viewed 15 June 2006):
Who said this? "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." God in a new very modernization of the Bible? Nope. Marlon Brando in the 1978 verison of Superman.
Check out this article via Newsweek [link to: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/] about the book The Gospel According to the World's Greatest Superhero.
Plus, which superhero would you see at the end of the pew on Sunday? [link to: http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html]
From: "Superhuman and Subhuman", posted 16 June 2006 on the Robot Prayer blog website (http://robotprayer.com/wp/?p=17; viewed 16 June 2006):
With Superman Returns about to hit theaters across the US, the press has been waxing philosophical about the mythology of superheroes. Newsweek [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/] and the Sacramento Bee [link to David Waters' column "Divining Superman's Religion"] have published articles about the religious "affiliations" of Superman and other comic book heroes:
[Excerpt from article]
Funny how Christian perspectives on popular culture render all pop culture icons as Christian-centric. What is problematic about this kind of discussion is that it tries to fit Superman himself into the religious dilemma of middle America: which denomination to choose? Shall the man from Smallville become a Methodist, a Catholic, or shall he "become" Jewish? The question of Superman and religion can be restated in two more imaginative ways. First, what about the Superman story is so compelling as a touchstone of American popular mythology? Second, are not the competing claims about Superman's religion, all of which are quite legitimate, indicative of the cultural territory staked out in common by a plurality of American religious perspectives that work sometimes in harmony and sometimes in dischord?
From: "Super Friends with Super Faith?", posted 17 June 2006 on the Pericopae blog website (http://pericopae.blogspot.com/2006/06/super-friends-with-super-faith.html; viewed 23 June 2006):
Posted by Peri on Saturday, June 17, 2006 at 10:12 PM:
This kills me. I think we're stretching things a bit by worrying about the faith of our superheroes. Unless it's specified in the comics I'm hesitant to decide about ol' Superman. There is, after all, a big difference between Methodism (of the UMC variety) and Kryptonian. At least I assume there is. Maybe I'd better do more research!
[Link to: http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html]
From: Brent McKee, "Comments" forum discussion, started 18 June 2006 on the HaloScan.com website (http://www.haloscan.com/comments/timgueguen/115056819021762711/; viewed 20 June 2006):
Brent, 06.18.06 - 3:56 am:
ELliot S! Maggin, who used to write "Superman" suggested that the Man of Steel was probably a Methodist because that's what his human parents were. Of course before John Byrne rebooted the character there were a large number of references to the Kryptonian version of a monotheistic god, called Rao but since the reboot Superman hasn't really known that much about Krypton.
It seems to me that in terms of sources Siegel and Shuster (cousin of Frank) were assimilated enough into the dominant culture of Cleveland in the 1930s to be familiar with the Christian story. I also think that they were probably intelligent enough to integrate the story of Moses and the Christian story into a story which is basically secular. I will say that the original movie had a much stronger relation to the Christian concept, with Jor-el sending his only begotten son to help humanity become better.
From: "Superman, Batman, Hulk, Spiderman = Jewish???" forum discussion, started 19 June 2006 on the SOHH website (http://forums.sohh.com/archive/index.php/t-725387.html; viewed 17 July 2007):
06-19-06, 03:28 PM
June 19, 2006 -- HE'S the ultimate American icon - tall, built, brave. And hot. But now, as Superman is set to fly onto the big screen next week, bringing truth, justice and rippling muscles to a new generation of moviegoers, there comes word that the Man of Steel has a secret.
The man behind the red cape is a Yeshiva boy.
Superman - Jewish?
"Only a Jew would think of a name like Clark Kent," says Brooklyn Rabbi Simcha Weinstein.
"He's the bumbling, nebbish, Jewish stereotype. He's Woody Allen. Can't get the girl. Can't get the job - at the same time, he has this tremendous heritage he can't express."
Weinstein has just published Up, Up, and Oy Vey! (Leviathan Press), a work that concludes, with scholarly authority and voluminous footnotes, that beneath Supe's form-fitting tights, there lurks a circumcision.
In the book, and on his Web site, www.rabbisimcha.com, he outs the Jewish roots of other superheroes who conceal their true identities - an undoubtedly Jewish trait - such as Batman, the Hulk and Spider-Man. Weinstein grew up in England as Simon, a boy who worshipped the pop-culture gods of Indiana Jones and James Bond.
After a career as a film-location scout, he married and moved to New York, where he learned that the history of his comic-book heroes and American Jews are intertwined.
"So I'm claiming Superman for the Jews," laughed the now-Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi of Pratt University.
Superman was dreamed up in the 1930s by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster of Cleveland, who wrote for the comics at a time when art and publishing outlets didn't want to hire people with Hebrew surnames.
The boys' influences are strictly Old Testament: Superman comics begin with Planet Krypton about to explode. Desperate to save his baby son, Superman's father, Jor-El ("El" is ancient Hebrew for "God"), sends the child to Earth, alone, in a spaceship.
Substitute a boat, and you've got the story of Moses.
As he makes his way on Earth as a Nazi-fighter, Superman longs for Krypton.
"In this world, he's very much an outsider. He's an alien," says Weinstein. "That's what Jews have been called throughout the world, aliens."
Interest in superheroes has skyrocketed in the recent times.
"The biggest movie after 9/11 was 'Spider-Man,'" said Weinstein. "We're looking for heroes.
"They're based on Jewish traditions and Jewish values, and they're something to be proud of."
And don't forget: Many Jewish names end with "man."
Good enough for me.
06-19-06, 03:32 PM
This is true. A lot of these characters were created by Jews. In the 30s and 40's, they desperately wanted to be American and created all of these "Americana comic book characters."
06-19-06, 06:06 PM
Superman was Jewish from conception. Though the rest I don't know about.
06-19-06, 06:11 PM
I can't be bothered to read that article. Batman and Superman are not Jewish.
06-19-06, 06:43 PM
Superman comes from the German word ubermench which is German, and it came from Hitler's crazy genetic experiments. It's a Nazi concept, not Jewish.
06-19-06, 07:22 PM
lol [laugh out loud]. Jews compare themselves to everything and try to claim it as theirs [:rolleyes: emoticon]
Stupid... That story could be attributed to any immigrant :rolleyes:
Those cats are always reaching.
And he says about Superman: "He's Woody Allen." Yeah, he ACTS like Woody Allen when he's trying to fit in to the normal world, which contradicts this dude's whole statement of him being alienated, yet he acts like a Jew to fit in?! Rabbi stop hittin' the rock.
06-19-06, 07:29 PM
Siegel and Shuster were Jewish. It figures that their creation would be Jewish.
06-19-06, 09:57 PM
A lot of people say Superman's dad was God and he sent his son to save the world, a la John 3:16. [This famous verse from the Bible reads (King James Version): "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."]
06-20-06, 09:04 AM
Most writers for comic books during the early days where Jewish. Superman's creators and Stan Lee. So I guess there is a connection, but that dude [Rabbi Simcha Weinstein] is really reaching.
From: "Up, Up and Oy Vey!" forum discussion, started 19 June 2006 on the Justice League Animated Forum website (http://www.passfailstudios.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8674&sid=dd2468fb558cd29c0667f991f8a127e1; viewed 4 June 2007):
Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 10:19 pm
While I would really like to get my hands on this book [link to Amazon.com page for Up, Up, and Oy Vey!: How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero, written by Rabbi Simcha Weinstein: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1881927326/sr=1-1/qid=1150754871/ref=pd_bbs_1/002-5069577-0562468] (from the library one day, I guess), the article in the NY Post about it bugged the crap out of me. They were saying that Superman is Jewish, which nothing in the book description on Amazon actually says. The friend who sent me the article said the writer (of the article, not the book) is a bit of an idiot (well, actually, he used an expression I can't repeat on a family-friendly board).
I definitely don't dispute the Moses parallel, but as the same (Jewish) friend pointed out, "That's more MYTHIC than anything else."
Anyway, here's the abstract for the article [link to: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/nypost/access/1062600861.html?dids=1062600861:1062600861&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Jun+19%2C+2006&author=ANDREA+PEYSER&pub=New+York+Post&edition=&startpage=021&desc=MENSCH+IN+TIGHTS+-+SUPERMAN+IS+A+SUPER+JEW%3A+RABBI], which has the totally erroneous statement that Superman can't get a girl or a job.
Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 10:34 pm
Well, he's also compared to Christ, and the whole "refugee from the stars" thing smacks of Jewishness in the 30s. I think Siegel and Shuster were Jewish immigrants themselves, weren't they?
Posted: Mon Jun 19, 2006 10:51 pm
Sure, they were Jewish, but that doesn't make the character Jewish.
The JL/JLU [Justice League/Justice League Unlimited] version is definitely not Jewish.
Oh hold on, I'll find that website someone pointed me to the other day...at this point, with everyone treating me like comics are the only thing I'm interested in, I don't even know if the link was given to me by someone off the board or on.
I got there from here:
which points out a few Jewish heroes that, y'know, SAY they're Jewish.
Atom Smasher is Jewish, too, right? And who is it in the Crisis that says they're Jewish? (TheMoosh is going to check it out...la la la... Ragman.)
Posted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 12:51 am
I've heard this before, and I tend to think it's just a general characterization tag that keeps getting attached to the MOS [Man of Steel] because his creators are Jewish.
I've not completely read The History of Superman entirely, but I've always wondered if S&S [Siegel and Shuster] deliberately inserted these Christ-like parallels deliberately. I tend to think it came unconsciously, like most stories are just sort of repeats of things and parables you've heard before. I think over the years as Superman's popularity has grown these things are just thrown at him, but there isn't really a lot to back it up.
I didn't read any of the articles are whatnot...these are just my own thoughts.
Has anyone ever read anything that says that S&S [Siegel and Shuster] deliberately made him Jewish?
That may be mentioned in those articles that were posted and when I have a bit of time I'll read them later.
Posted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 5:19 am
He [Superman] isn't Hassidic. ["Shocked" emoticon]
Really does it matter?
Posted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 7:27 am
Hey, if he was Hasidic it would explain that curl of hair always on his forehead. ["Wink" emoticon]
Posted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:13 am
I agree in the sense that I don't think he attended Smallville Synagogue, but there are a lot of Jewish influences on him from Jewish creators.
Posted: Tue Jun 20, 2006 8:46 am
Most of your personal influences will direct the flow of a story. I've always found it interesting that the triangle for two dynamic btw Lois and Clark was because some girl didn't take notice of one of the creators. I wouldn't doubt that the enduring love Superman feels for Lois is because one of them had a crush on the model who posed for her... lol... didn't she marry one of them later?
Anyway, who knows if in their heads they said, "yes, Superman is Jewish" when they originally created him? Though, I have to agree with Chadders that their Jewish upbringing, or whatever type of influence was had from their religious culture, definitely influenced some early aspects of Superman.
LOL... at this point though... considering how far DC is willing to go to attempt to disassociate Superman from religion (For Tomorrow excluded), I'm sure that whatever Jewish elements may have been there have been blended so Superman is appealing to all religions.
Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:20 am
Is anyone here implying there that it's a problem being Jewish?
Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:49 am
In general? No, no one's saying that. For the character? Maybe.
I disagree that religion doesn't matter in the creation of a character. (And absolutely disagree that the religion of the creator is the religion of any given character, necessarily.) Religion, especially dependent on WHICH religion, can have a very strong influence on how the character acts, thinks, etc.
Do I see Superman as a Jew? Not at all.
Why? Well, partially things like this:
The religious affiliations of the people of Kansas are as follows:
Christian - 82%
Protestant - 60%
Methodist - 14%
Baptist - 14%
Lutheran - 4%
Presbyterian - 3%
Church of Christ - 3%
Mennonite/Pietist - 1%
Other Protestant - 21%
Roman Catholic - 20%
Other Christian - 2%
Other Religions - 1%
You tell me that a character's from the Bible Belt, and my assumption is that he's some form of Christian unless/until I'm told otherwise.
Then there's the bland, British-y name of the family: John and Martha Kent.
Would I care if there were a Jewish Superman, or if he were portrayed that way? I think that'd be a fantastic story, actually. However, given the existing backstory, I don't see how the writer of the original article sees more than the Moses parallel, which, as I quoted before, is "mythic" as much as it's religious. How many stories are about a man or woman being raised a family not their own? How many secret princes, princesses, kings, queens, even superheroes? (Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, anyone?)
Point of the post: I never thought Superman was anything but raised Christian, and I think that's completely supportable, while other evidence seems weak to me. The Superman in JL/JLU is a Christian. And that's actually all I have here, no other real opinion.
Anyway, time to watch season 2.
Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 2:00 am
To be honest...I've always thought Supes was a Christian, but he's the most left-winged Christian on the market.
He's not a Jew. He's not a Catholic. He's for God-like apparitions that do good on the Earth. Those apparitions could be of any religion; so for me Superman believes in a higher power and that's it!!!
Did S&S [Siegel and Shuster] create him to be Jewish? I don't know. Can we ask them? Even if we could do you think they would say he's Jewish?
Superman is everyman and...in some part woman. He is ultra-religious, but bears the distinct pleasure of not actually having a religion.
At least that is my take.
Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:16 am
I happen to be Jewish. I thought Superman worshiped Science, like all Kryptonians.
Posted: Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:29 pm
When I asked TheMoosh what he thought Superman's religion was, he said right off the bat, "Kryptonian." I'm not really sure why though. Maybe he meant through the matrilineal line? Or something he CAME to, I guess, but if I were raised by wonderful adoptive parents, I wouldn't reject their heritage outright either. (And, of course, Superman generally doesn't do that--he sees himself as just another guy, but blessed with powers and, therefore, responsibility.)
Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:24 am
No, I said what I said because people want to promote something by starting a stupid thread like this. A few months ago, it was gay superheroes. So I toss it right back in their face!! I mean, how stupid do you have to be to ask if Superman is Jewish? Mr. Siegel, the creator might have been Jewish. But for God's sake, Superman is Kryptonian! Just the talk of ethnic or religious backgrounds of superheroes disgust me. There must be 100 websites of "Jewish superheroes", "gay superheroes", or "gay Jewish superheroes". Who the [expletive] cares??! If you want to attribute the character of Superman and Jews to truth, justice, and the American way, do so in your own mind. That propaganda only works on children, which is why I suspect many Jewish parents are telling their kids that Superman is Jewish.
Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:30 am
JL [Justice League]'s Superman celebrated CHRISTmas in 'Comfort and Joy'. I saw a CHRISTmas tree in the Kent household and Martian Manhunter was sitting where the menorah usually is at the end. Clark was raised the right way. You want a Jewish superhero? I'm pretty sure The Hebrew Hammer is Jewish, at least he was in the movie.
Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 1:53 am
Wait... are you saying that he's Kryptonian or he's Christian? The second post threw me off.
I'm not sure what you thought I was promoting by putting up this topic (I didn't see your comment before the mods got to it). I was talking about the book, the description of the book, and the way it was portrayed in the article I read that told me about the book. I was saying that the last two things in there--the description of the book and the article about the book--did not really feel like they were synching up. I think the writer of the article may have had her head up her rear end and misunderstood the book's intention, or else had her own agenda--or else, of course, the book really is about how Superman is Jewish, rather than what the Amazon description says, which is this: "While the Jewish contribution to film, theater, music, and comedy has been well-documented, the Jewish role in the creation of the All-American superhero has not been--until now!" If I read JUST that, I would think the book was a kind of behind-the-scenes, real-life type Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. But instead, I read this in the article:
"He's the bumbling, nebbish, Jewish stereotype. He's Woody Allen. Can't get the girl. Can't get the job - at the same time, he has this tremendous heritage he can't express."
That's the author, not the article writer, by the way.
"Can't get the job"? Is that about Lois Lane getting the headlines? Because I've only ever seen him as a writer at the Daily Planet, definitely employed.
"Can't get the girl"? But... they're married!
This piqued my interest in the book even more because of my confusion, but mostly, I posted the article because it was a Superman article and this is the Superman thread.
Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:01 am
Re: Wait...are you saying that he's Kryptonian or he's Christian? The second post threw me off.
I think he's just saying that Superman may be either one of those but he certainly is not Jewish.
Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:11 am
Superman is a mythical character... People can say whatever they want about them as long as it suits their agenda. I can find hundreds of people who will say Superman is Jewish and hundreds who will say he is Christian. Just Google it if you don't believe me. Here's an example: [includes quotes from Elliot S. Maggin interview conducted by Bruce Bachand.]
Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:22 am
I tracked down the source of the 'Superman is Jewish' theory. In Superman 2, the 1980 movie, here's a line:
[Witnessing a Superman rescue.]
Woman: "What a nice man! Of course he's Jewish."
Doesn't that make you want to throw up? Well, they control Hollywood, so I guess they can have the characters say whatever they want. Just like the TV shows Sienfeld and Friends. They live in NYC. Jewish. No black people. Yeah, okay.
Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 2:33 am
That reminds me of someone saying to me the other day that it could be argued that Magneto wasn't a Jew but a Gypsy or really, from any other persecuted people during the Holocaust.
Things like that are what I was saying before about Superman: My assumption was that Superman is some form of Christian, because I assume that Kansas has a high Christian population. I assumed Magneto was a Jew because of the Holocaust references.
We have these ideas as children, or assumptions, but they seem right to us, and if someone comes to us later and says "But what about...?", our world-view is knocked out of place for a second. You could debate, you could check it out, you could change your opinion--that's not what matters, that's just the result.
So I could completely understand if a (say) eight-year-old Jewish kid is reading Superman, finds that the creators are Jewish, and applies that to the hero himself. I could understand growing up believing that because the creators are Jewish, Superman was a hero for the Jews.
What I want to know now is how that could apply to the book, or does apply to the book. Are we talking about contribution or the creation itself? It's opinion and debate-fodder until the book is read, I suppose.
Posted: Fri Jun 23, 2006 3:09 am
re: I saw a CHRISTmas tree in the Kent household. Clark was raised the right way.
The Thing is Jewish in the comics, and yet he celebrates Christmas. Go figure.
From: "The Church of Superman" forum discussion, started 19 June 2006 on the James Randi Educational Foundation website (http://www.randi.org/forumlive/showthread.php?t=58627; viewed 15 May 2007):
19th June 2006, 06:03 AM
The Church of Superman
Hmmmm... the "religious" affiliations of comic book characters. Huh?
19th June 2006, 09:08 AM
Superman a Methodist? Don't be silly.
Of course he's Jewish.
He's a member of the 'El' family and Superman rhymes with Cooperman.
From: Adam/adamelijah, "Faith of Our Tight-Clad Heroes", posted 19 June 2006 on the Where I Stand blog website (http://www.whereistand.com/adamelijah/12737; viewed 19 June 2006):
Hat Tip to the Random Yak on this [http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], a page that lays out the religion of Super Heroes. Its not something I've thought about before, but the fact is that most of the comic writers have given some thought to it. The big ones of interest are that Superman is a Methodist, Batman is probably an Anglican, and Spider-Man comes from a Protestant background of some sort. Of course, in the case of most of these heroes, the religion really has little to no tie in to their character. It is more a background than their actual way of living, so they're really more humanist with a religious background than anything else. I was surprised by the number of LDS super heroes, not so much by the number of Jewish heroes.
From: Abby Scott, "Complete with Utility Belt Carrying a Calculator and Ennui", posted 22 June 2006 on the Abby Scott does tend to go on blog website (http://abbyscott.blogspot.com/2006/06/complete-with-utility-belt-carrying.html; viewed 22 June 2006):
I grew up in a strong atheistic tradition...
The above is a link to a list of the religions of many of our comic book heroes. Quite cool, actually.
Superman? Methodist. Makes sense, he was raised in a small town in rural Indiana...
From: Mareska Kellemvore, "No real update yet", posted 24 June 2006 on the Mareska's Journal blog website (http://mareska.livejournal.com/116525.html; viewed 20 March 2008):
Mareska Kellemvore (mareska) wrote, 2006-06-24 12:54:00:
...I just want to post a survey of sorts to my geeky friends. Newsweek recently published an article about the religions of various superheroes. Now some have been established in continuity (Daredevil, for example, is Catholic)...
Newsweek pegged Superman as Methodist because he's a WASP-y Midwesterner. I'd actually see him more as a Presbyterian (suspect he's down with that whole predestination thing)...
From: Mark Daniels, "Superman a Methodist? Nah, He's a Lutheran!", posted 1 July 2006 on the Better Living: Thoughts from Mark Daniels blog website (http://markdaniels.blogspot.com/2006/07/superman-methodist-nah-hes-lutheran.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
posted by Mark Daniels @ 9:30 AM
Church elder and deacon, chemist, businessperson, blogger, and comic book aficionado John Schroeder points to a study that tries to pinpoint the religious affiliations of various comic book heroes [link to: http://blogotional.blogspot.com/2006/07/comic-art_01.html]. Three panels on the left of John's post (seen here on the right) shows a young Clark Kent speaking with his pastor. The pastor's name is Linquist, which made me wonder how the author of the study John cites could say that Superman was a Methodist.
Superman a Methodist? And his pastor is named Linquist[?] Chances are with a pastor bearing a Norwegian moniker like that, the Kents are Midwestern Lutherans. Besides, everybody knows that after serving [in] Smallville, Pastor Linquist went on to [become] pastor of the Lutheran congregation in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.
From: John Schroeder, "Did You Know?", posted 1 July 2006 on the Blogotional blog website (http://blogotional.blogspot.com/2006/07/comic-art_01.html; viewed 9 May 2007):
Mark Daniels | 07.01.06 - 7:30 am
[Did you know] That Superman was a Methodist? Somebody did a lot of work to figure out the religious affiliations of numerous comic book characters [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]. (HT: Rebecca [link to: http://everydaymusings.blogspot.com/2006/03/round-sphere-again_29.html])
I have not blogged about the role of religion in comics because it is an incredibly complicated subject, and the comics get it wrong so often, or in order to avoid controversy they stick to the clearly mythological elements of religion. However, reading recently C.S. Lewis fantasy and his invocation of figures like Merlin in That Hideous Strength, I wonder if there is not a role for genuine religion in the comics.
At any rate this is a great resource. If you are interested in more or a discussion, let me know, we'll see what we can do.
[Comments posted by readers of this blog:]
Superman a Methodist? And his pastor is named Linquist. Chances are with a pastor bearing a Norwegian moniker like that, the Kents are Midwestern Lutherans. Besides, everybody knows that after serving Smallville, Pastor Linquist went on to serve as pastor of the Lutheran congregation in Lake Wobegon, Minnesota.
From: "Religious Beliefs of DC Heroes" forum discussion, started 4 July 2006 on the ComixFan website (http://x-mencomics.com/xfan/forums/showthread.php?p=1357699; viewed 6 July 2006):
Jul 4, 2006
I am a Christian (Baptist) in real life, and I was wondering if anyone knows any DC characters that have been labelled [as adherents of] a certain religion. I think DC has tried to stay away from religion, but I am pretty sure Superman is Methodist, and I know they are fixing to explore some religious beliefs on Batgirl. I thought this would [be a] cool topic. So please list anything you might know on this subject.
06/28/07 12:21 PM
I think a comic [about] The Methodist Kryptonian is necessary.
06/28/07 01:01 PM
If it's about Methodists, it'll mainly concern carry-ins and casseroles...
From: "Superman Was Jewish?" forum discussion, started 6 July 2006 on the Superhero Hype! website (http://forums.superherohype.com/archive/index.php/t-241110.html; viewed 20 March 2008):
07-06-2006, 04:46 PM
Hey guys, I've been reading the boards for a while, but this is the first time I've signed up to post a message. I found a link to an article called "Super Jew" about Superman's ties to Judaism. Kind of an interesting article. Personally, I liked the part about Kryptonite:
07-06-2006, 08:43 PM
The creators of Superman were actually Jewish. Superman himself as Clark Kent has actually been referred to as Methodist in the past, and definitely Protestant. Of course, there is also the Kryptonian religion as well. In comic he was raised generally Protestant, and specifically Methodist, but he does also have an affinity toward the Kryptonian beliefs as well, and has even talked to a Catholic priest in the past. I've given seminars on this before regarding the symbolism and metaphors of the character and other characters for that matter and their impact on art and allegories as iconic representations in myth and popular culture.
The character himself was created by two Jewish men originally however.
If you have any questions, PM me and I can help you on this stuff.
Up Up & Oy Vey!
07-06-2006, 09:28 PM
My friend, Simcha Weinstein, just had a book published about Heroes and Jews.
Kryptonians, like the people of Noah's time, ridiculed Jor-El because of his fantastic apocalyptical ideas. He then placed his son, Kal-El (in Hebrew, literally either Vessel of God, Voice of God or All of God) is sent in a "basket" to escape destruction just like Moses.
Clark Kent is a fairly Jewish name.
Many Jewish last names end with "Man".
Siegel and Shuster were Jewish.
Buy the book. I got two copies, hence my forum name.
07-07-2006, 06:11 AM
That looks like a really good book. I am always looking for more reference points. Thanks.
07-10-2006, 08:42 AM
Nah, I don't think the Man of Steel either is or was intended to be Jewish per se. (Full disclosure: I'm a Catholic-practicing). Even if there are Jewish themes and allusions to his birth and early life (just as there are arguably Catholic themes to Batman - namely guilt and atonement). And [the Kents aren't Jewish, either]. Besides there aren't that many Jewish superheroes running around. (The Thing, Shadowcat, Moon Knight and Doc Samson all spring to mind), far fewer than say, African-American, Hispanic or Oriental!
07-13-2006, 10:40 AM
Superman was no Jew. Although his early life are compare to things happen in the Bible, that doesn't mean he is Jewish. [I agree with] dpm07, [who] said "Clark Kent has actually been referred to as Methodist in the past, and definitely Protestant".
Yes, his early life are similar to things that happen to Moses, Jesus, Noah but that doesn't mean he is Jewish himself. Clark Kent is not a Jewish name. I can show you many people last name Kent and they are Protestants. Yes, that name was originally a Jewish name but you need to think that there is many families with the name of Kent. Most of the ones I know are Protestants. [As for] that website about Super Jew... First, off, as for Superman coming from a powerful family. All of Kryptonians are powerful. They were ahead of our times. The only way he is denied of his powers is with Kryptonite. He still has powers when he is Clark Kent. This line is so stupid "Kryptonite serves as a different kind of reminder. It's not a reminder of embarrassment or of a heritage he wishes to deny, but it's a reminder of a world he has lost." First off, yes it is a reminder of his world lost but he has to stay away from this because of the radioactive properties that comes from it that takes away his power and makes him weak and then it will kill him.
Now with these comments you might think I hate Jews. Well, I don't hate jews. I love all people equal and it just stuff like this they are trying to figure out about Superman that makes me sick.
07-13-2006, 10:42 AM
Clark Kent has never been Jewish. I've never heard of a Jewish guy living in Kansas.
07-13-2006, 12:51 PM
Clark is an alien. I thought Jews and Christians don't believe in life outside of Earth.
07-13-2006, 01:07 PM
The Kents are country folk in Kansas. No Orthodox Jew owns a farm in the heart of Kansas. (I live in kansas, and for the record, there are very few Jews here to start with.)
Obviously, Judaism doesn't exist on Krypton. Therefore, we have to see how he was raised. And he was raised Protestant Christian. Perhaps leaning to the right-wing of politics?
07-14-2006, 09:45 PM
I grew up in Kansas, in Overland Park. There are Jews in Kansas.
There are Jews everywhere, even China.
Superman isn't Jewish, because his mother was a Kryptonian alien, not a descendant of Abraham's son Jacob. Thus, not Jewish by definition.
Was superman inspired by Jews? Very much so. I think there are a lot of cool subversive things that the creators put in there based on Jewish mythology. If for nothing else, than to put some of themselves in the character. Kind of like Easter eggs that programmers put in their games for fun and to mark their territory.
The Kents themselves, according to the comics, are not Jews. So Superman is neither Jewish nor was he raised a Jew.
I think Shazam might be a Jew. He refers to Solomon etc... (Just kidding... Shazam is Egyptian.)
Up Up & Oy Vey!
07-15-2006, 10:15 PM
Wait... we DON'T believe in outside life now?
[This poster, who is Jewish, here expresses surprise that a previous message poster - giggs11uk - thinks that Jews don't believe in intelligent life on other planets.]
07-15-2006, 10:24 PM
Maybe Superman is Jewish. We never see him eat bacon.
07-17-2006, 02:36 PM
:confused: I'm Christian and yet I still believe that there are aliens.
07-18-2006, 07:58 PM
While I know from the comics he's Protestant, a Methodist, I think all the ties he has with Judaism are pretty interesting. There's a comprehensive website that has information about different heroes' religions and religious undertones to story arcs and that sort of thing. I can't remember what it is though. Anyone else?
07-18-2006, 08:12 PM
Found the website:
The article there on Superman has a section on his Jewish roots:
07-26-2006, 03:02 PM
In some recent issue, Superman visited with a Jewish family. It was the conclusion of some storyline. I forget what.
[This issue made it clear that although Superman respects Jewish custom, he himself is not Jewish.]
From: "Jews and Catholics rule" forum discussion, started 9 July 2006 on the Pop Culture Shock website (http://www.popcultureshock.com/pcs/forums/showthread.php?t=13549; viewed 28 June 2007):
07-09-2006, 09:18 PM
Default Jews and Catholics rule. [By this, the poster means that Catholics and Jews have the most representation among comic book superheroes.]
The Mormons are rocking out too!
(Fastest growing religion though, I hear, so I guess they deserve the reppin [i.e., representation].)
But the Muslims (22% of the world), the Hindu (15% of the world), the Sikhs (totally typecast as supporting characters only!), Confucianists (7% of the planet), (and Atheists/Agnostics (17% of the world and growing fast!) all get the raw deal from comics:
Also be sure to check out the individual portraits. (i.e.: Superman is a Methodist but Lois is Catholic, Power Pack were all Mormons, Wolverine's a Buddhist, and Colossus, Booster Gold, and Iron Man are atheists. Their practices and more are described here:
From: Tom R., "It's Kabbalah-in' Time!", posted 24 July 2006 on the Father McKenzie blog website (http://fathermckenzie.blogspot.com/2006/07/its-kabbalah-in-time.html; viewed 10 August 2007):
IT'S KABBALAH-IN' TIME! [updated]... It's official: Ben Grimm, a.k.a "The Thing" in Marvel Comics' Fantastic Four, is Jewish. And devoutly so [link to: http://www.forward.com/issues/2002/02.07.26/fast1.html/]. Link via James Lileks [link to: http://www.lileks.com/bleats/archive/04/0704/071404.html], who comments: "Reed Richards? Episcopalian, I'd bet. Silver Surfer? Unitarian."
The religious affiliation of fictional super-characters is an intriguing topic. Some are, err, confessedly Catholic (X-Men's Nightcrawler, Daredevil's Matt Murdock), while others are obviously Baptist or Methodist (Superman's Jonathan and Martha Kent, Spider-Man's Aunt May). Other characters, though, are harder to call.
Some years ago, one of Superman's creators (either Jerry Siegel or Joe Shuster, I forget which) mentioned in an interview that they made Kryptonian society crypto [so to speak] Hebraic in many respects, much as Leonard Nimoy did for the Vulcans. For example, Kryptonian male names end in -El, while female names end in -a[h]. Not surprising, since JS and JS were Jewish themselves.
This may explain Jerry Seinfeld's Superman fanhood. Australian radio comedy duo Martin/ Molloy's [link: http://www.users.bigpond.com/ewert/martinmolloy/] take on this news: "Superman, Jewish? Must have had a really difficult time trying to circumcise him!" Presumably Kal-El's not Orthodox (his super-hair doesn't grow -- which is fortunate, since nothing on earth can cut it -- therefore no long curls at the temple; and his hat would blow off as he flies!). Any potential marriage between Superman and Lois Lane [link to: http://www.rawbw.com/~svw/superman.html] could well be contrary to the Orthodox Jewish (and Catholic) prohibitions, if one classifies their relationship as "sodomy/ bestiality" rather than "involuntary infertility".
OTOH [On the other hand], as has often been observed [link to: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2006/02/04/nexam104.xml] (e.g., in apostate Anglican Bishop John Robinson's book Honest to God), Superman also has many parallels to Jesus Christ. (Guy with super-powers who looks like an ordinary human arrives on Earth... adopted by kindly couple... grows up, goes off into barren wilderness to communicate with his Father, then realizes his mission... etc. RC [Roman Catholic] readers might add, "Main bad guy is named Luth[e]r".) Alan MacDonald noted in his book Movies in Close-up that when Steven Spielberg (who was raised Jewish and has become more observant in recent years) was filming ET: The Extraterrestrial, someone pointed out to him the parallels between ET and Jesus. (Arrives on our world from the sky ... Heals people by touching them... Has glowing red heart... Dies but returns to life, then ascends... Protestant readers might add, "He and his friends persecuted and driven into hiding by bad guy who carries a set of keys"). Spielberg's response was "Look, I'm Jewish, I don't want to hear about this".
Deeply ironic: Two of American popular culture's most instantly recognizable figures, both close analogies of Jesus, both created by Jews.
UPDATE 1: And yes, I know Jesus and disciples were Jews too, of course. But I'm talking 2,000 years later, now that Christianity and Judaism have diverged into two very different religions, after centuries of (some) Christians calling Jews "deicides" and (some) Jews echoing Maimonides' sentiment: "Jesus of Nazareth, may his bones be ground into dust..." And while Christianity and Judaism share many points in common, those are not the points that either ET or Superman exhibit: descending from the sky, using super-human powers, etc, are specifically Christian rather than Jewish attributes of a Messiah.
UPDATE 2: My impeccable source informs me that the Thing is not in fact the first Jewish superhero, nor even the first for Marvel. Katherine "Kitty" Pryde, a.k.a Shadowcat/ Sprite of The Uncanny X-Men, was identified as Jewish years ago. (Don't ask me how: not being a Democrat Congressperson or a Guardian columnist, I don't possess finely-tuned Jewdar capable of detecting hidden Hebrews in unexpected places). Perhaps Kitty was ethnically Jewish but non-practicing, whereas Ben Grimm is the first to actually practice the rituals of Judaism (e.g., reciting the Shema) on Marvel's pages.
(And when The Thing takes on The Hulk, the resulting orange versus green blur is a metaphor for Northern Ireland...)
UPDATE 3: It turns out there are plenty of other Jewish superheroes [link to: http://www.wordiq.com/definition/List_of_Jewish_superheroes]. Here (via The Volokh Conspiracy [link to: http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2004_07_21.shtml#1090946889]) is a long list.
In any case, from my (medium-level) reading I don't think many superheroes (as distinct from kindly adoptive parents who bake great Thanksgiving pies) are really religious in any meaningful sense. The Catholic ones I mentioned tend to be tormented by guilt -- as you would too, if you either looked like a devil or dressed like one -- and to spend a lot of time hanging around churches, but otherwise aren't distinctively Catholic. They don't, for example, ask themselves whether letting the bad guy fall to his death from a cliff edge, because he refuses the hero's helping hand, counts as "direct or indirect formal or material complicity with homicide" pursuant to the Doctrine of Double Effect. Nor, for that matter, can I picture, say, Peter Parker [link to: http://www.theage.com.au/news/film-reviews/spiderman-3/2007/05/02/1177788214439.html] asking himself "WWJD?" before deciding whether to continue hot pursuit of Doc Ock, or pause to stop a granny being run over.
UPDATE 4: Julia Baird agrees:
... Some say he [Superman] is Jewish, as he was created by two Jewish cartoonists and could be viewed as part of the golem myth - the legend created to protect persecuted Jews in 16th-century Prague. In his early years, Superman often engaged in battles against the Nazis. His birth name was also Kal-El, which is similar to the Hebrew Kol-El, meaning voice of God. The scholarly consensus, though, seems to be that he must be Methodist, largely because Clark Kent was brought up in the American Midwest...
Superman is not the only superhero thought to be religious - Wonder Woman fancied ancient Egyptian religions, Batman is said to be a lapsed Anglican or Catholic (because of the crosses on his parents' tombstones), as is the Hulk. Rogue from the X-Men was raised as a Baptist, and Spider-Man prays to what is assumed to be a Protestant God...
- "A Sunday sermon from Superman" [link to: http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/a-sunday-sermon-from-superman/2006/06/21/1150845241006.html], Sydney Morning Herald (22 June 2006)
UPDATE 5: Yes, some may well say. But Andrew Rilstone [link to: http://andrewrilstone.blogspot.com/2006/07/superman-second-coming.html] - does not think so:
"In 1938 it was understandable that a pair of young Jewish artists might have wanted to imagine a champion. A Messiah, even. So there is no way that Superman can be Jesus. (His adversary is called Luthor, for goodness sake.)... Mario Puzo's script for the 1978 Superman movie had Marlon Brando drawing fairly explicit parallels between the origin of Superman and the birth of Jesus, even though it is blindingly obvious even in Puzo's own script that the real parallel is with Moses... Spider-Man, Frodo Baggins, Neo, Leo DiCaprio, Indiana Jones - Hollywood turns all its heroes into Christian symbols. (All except Aslan, obviously.)..."
UPDATE 6: Ship of Fools [link to: http://ship-of-fools.com/index.html] has included a website [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html] on this topic in their "Fruitcake Zone" [link to: http://ship-of-fools.com/Fruitcake/index.html]. Ouch...
From: "Are the [Smallville] producers avoiding religious situations purposely?" forum discussion, started 5 August 2006 on the KryptonSite website (http://www.kryptonsite.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=62153; viewed 6 August 2007):
I am the Superman
10-05-2006 03:11 AM
Are the [Smallville] producers avoiding religious situations purposely?
Smallville Producers Cowards?
I think so. Despite some of the religious symbolism with Clark, the creators of the show completely forsake the reality of families living in rural Kansas.
We should see people going to church, praying. The Kents are a God-fearing family. In the comics say as much. Yet we never see the Kents or Clark or anyone for that matter doing anything remotely religious.
I'm not saying this in hopes this show becomes about religion, because that's not entertaining to everyone. I just think that they should show it sometimes.
For instance, [on the immensely popular ABC TV series] Lost, we see people praying, we see them building a church. Not everyone is, but odds are people are going to be religious, and not showing this isn't realistic. It's fake, and a bad example to young viewers.
Am I alone in feeling this way?
10-05-2006 10:11 PM
I most definitely agree with you.
10-05-2006 03:40 AM
The reason they SHOULDN'T put religion in their stories is because it doesn't relate to everyone. Not everyone is religious, not everyone believes in God, so on and so forth. You may be interested in watching characters sit in church, that's fine by you. Watch Seventh Heaven, I hear it was brought back for another season.
They use a lot of religious symbolism and imagery on Smallville. Jor-El seems like a very "God-like" character. A character without a face, speaking from the Heavens, omnipotent, and with the ability to alter reality and turn back the clock as he sees fit. But, they have a lot more to deal with in an episode than Clark in church...
10-05-2006 03:47 AM
Not just the Smallville producers are "cowards." None of the movies have any religious moments. Lois & Clark [the TV series, had] none. The cartoon Superman, none. And that's just fine with me. I like my religion and my entertainment to be two separate but equal entities.
10-05-2006 04:02 AM
Times have changed. Maybe it was popular to put in religion early back in the days, but recently, all the Superman media haven't mentioned religion much. The cartoons, LnC [Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman] (as far as I remember), the movies (even the Reeve ones) and Smallville. Plus, there wouldn't be enough time to watch Clark Kent sitting in the church and praying. If you wanted to see that, watch 7th Heaven.
And I wouldn't call the producers cowards. I call them smart for not trying to alienate a portion of the audience who happen to either not believe in God or are from a different religion.
10-05-2006 04:14 AM
Smallville isn't a realistic show. Even at its best it's not realistic, and I'm not just talking about the sci-fi/fantasy element of the show either. None of these people live very realistic lives.
And frankly, I would rather watch Clark fighting bad guys or the Luthors plotting evil schemes than watch Clark sitting in church praying. I would have absolutely zero interest in seeing the producers clumsily stick in religious scenes or references in a show that doesn't really have the depth or complexity to handle such things.
10-05-2006 06:41 AM
I have to say I wouldn't mind it, but it would fall into a plot hole or something like that. There is just no way to really incorporate it.
I do get a little put off when people say that adding a religious element to a show would alienate viewers. I'm sorry if anyone would stop watching a show just because it some religious themes, but there is a market for it. Look at the number of family-type movies that have come out in the last few years. It seemed in the late 90's, most movies were very violent or had dark themes, but that trend seems to have changed in the last couple of years. I don't have numbers or statistics, but just a general feel (from someone who loves to watch movies). I think that there is a large audience available for such shows.
Oh, and 7th Heaven should have ended two years ago. It was good for awhile but then just became redundant.
10-05-2006 10:07 AM
I don't think Religion should get dragged into everything.
Smallville, like all SciFi-ish TV shows, simply has nothing to do with Religion.
Opium for the masses, that's what Smallville is.
10-05-2006 12:19 PM
A lot of shows don't do religion because you get these religious groups that get all pissy about what's in it and how it's not right. Plus, they have made religious references in the show [Smallville], like Clark on the stick [wooden cross] in the pilot episode, and Clark getting stabbed in the spot Jesus got stabbed in, in the episodes where Clark fought Jeremiah and Clark coming back from the dead when he got shot and he got shot in the same place too. Also, Jor-El is God and Clark is Jesus, and Jor-EL, like God, wants his sons to have a certain destiny, yet the sons don't really want it but, they grow to accept it. And, not in Smallville, but in [the feature film Superman Returns], Clark is gone for like 20 years and Kesus was gone like 20 years. So, it's not directly religious but if you read between the lines, it is.
I am the Superman
10-05-2006 03:02 PM
In my opinion, all children should start off with a religious base. Just because you aren't religious doesn't mean it's bad. With so much bad material on TV, it would be nice to have this show present some sort of good example.
Shows like: Lost
7th heaven, etc..
Aren't/weren't afraid to show religious scenes from time to time.
And I don't think Smallville would have had a hard time working in some church and/or praying scenes. It wouldn't have disrupted the flow. It would have tied everything in together. The scenes would have more or less been filler scenes.
For instance, Clark, being a Christian, would have probably said a prayer while standing in the p=z crystal... instead we see nothing. We have never seen anything like that.
Some of the most touching and powerful moments on Lost and Everwood were the religious ones.
10-05-2006 03:26 PM
...Smallville is a little different from all those shows you have mentioned. For example, 7th Heaven is a show ABOUT a religious family. It was designed for... well, you...
10-05-2006 03:33 PM
It would be interesting to see how Clark would deal with a "Messianic complex."
Not at this stage, though if they had introduced it in the early goings it COULD explain his reluctance to embrace his Kryptonian heritage and its "god-like" qualities.
10-05-2006 03:49 PM
The problem with depicting any form of religion on Smallville is that there are so many different religions and the producers do not want to suggest that one is favored. Even if you carefully avoid mentioning any particular religion or denomination, something in a scene will always exclude one or more major religions.
Let's say you show a line of people exiting a church after a funeral. How do you keep the scene so generic that no one can tell whether the building they're exiting is a Catholic church, Protestant church, synagogue or mosque? The point is not that the Kents and other Smallville residents are not religious, but rather that the viewer is free to assume that they are members of whatever faith the viewer wishes . . . presumably the same faith as the viewer's.
10-05-2006 05:21 PM
Why should they make Clark a Christian, though? How would you feel if they decided to put religion into the show, but not Christian religion? Like if they decided to make Clark into a Muslim? Or a Mormon [i.e., a member of the Christian denomination known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]? Or a neo-pagan? Or a Buddhist? Or a (heh) Scientologist? Or a Unitarian Universalist? Or heck, they could make the Kents Jewish. (After all, the Superman creators were Jewish). How would you feel if they incorporated one of those religions into the show and showed Clark practicing those religions?
I am the Superman
10-05-2006 05:46 PM
He is Christian. It says so in the comics. Check this out.
I sick of the P-C ["Politically Correct"] age, you're never going to please everyone, so be realistic.
On Lost there are Christians and Muslims they aren't biased towards either.
10-05-2006 06:02 PM
I think that, as Superman, Clark transcends religion per se.
He is accepted by all races and all creeds, all faiths and so on.
Superman is the embodiment of all the IDEALS of virtually every religion.
Like I said before, I think it would have been an interesting storyline for them to explore (that time has past now I think), about how devout parents (of any faith really) raise a virtually "God-Like" being.
In Superman Returns, [directory Bryan] Singer throws the "Messiah" thing around and in the earl days of Superman [comics], the "Moses" analogies were present. So religion and Superman have always gone together to one degree or another.
Again, a great storyline would have been one in regards to a "cult following" perhaps, or one in which someone who is devout is saved by Clark and sees him as the "Second Coming".
At a certain point I would like to see Smallville address more issues (be it religion or otherwise) than the usual relationship crap.
10-05-2006 08:44 PM
Well, as a Superman fanatic, I have to admit that Superman has always had religious overtones. Actually that is something that is not uncommon in the Superhero universe at all. Superheroes are typically black and white characters who fight very real and easily defined evils. The connections to religion just drip from that kind of mythos.
That being said, there is something to consider in terms of a network show. If Superman is depicted as Christian, as the comic has sometimes suggested, Smallville runs the risk of not only alienating non-Christians, but also Christians who may not like an alien being displayed as a Messianic figure.
Think about the Star Wars mythos. Star Wars is rich in Christian themes and is a morality play to boot. However, there are some Christians who find that offensive in the context of a space opera.
When it comes to these sorts of things, shows are usually best off playing religion neutrally.
I think Smallville has been wise to simply show Clark as a moral and ethical young man. It benefits everyone to see someone that can be admired regardless of religious background.
10-05-2006 09:08 PM
I never saw Superman as any kind of religious figure. He doesn't, for instance, preach or feed the poor or heal the sick. Religion really doesn't belong in SF [science fiction]. Jor-el was a scientist, after all, and many scientists are non-religious or even atheists. [Although, statistically speaking, the majority of scientists self-identify as being religious.]
10-05-2006 09:32 PM
Smallville may not give us religion, but it gives us the basis of religion: morality. Whenever people talk about religion, things can get tense and people can be so devoted to their faith that they focus more on details then the larger picture. With Smallville just being a TV show, it's wise not to get caught up in that potential problem area. However, I've always tried to look at religions from what they have in common. They all pretty much teach to do the right thing, help others, be good people.
Superman/Clark represents those very values. Yes, we may not see him in church or praying. But in the end, he is always striving to do what's right and protect others. He makes mistakes, which is in fitting with his character growing up as is the premise of the show. But he represents everything that religion teaches.
Instead of focusing on certain aspects of religion we don't see, focus on the morals and values we do see. How many times has Clark protected someone innocent? How many times have Jonathan and Martha stressed doing what's right? How about after Clark and Alicia got married and Martha stressed the importance of marriage and family? Even Lex has tried to do good, but it usually backfires on him. Smallville has made Lex a sympathetic figure, one who we see the good in him and feel sorry for what he will become.
So basically, Smallville has lots of morality. Which is something to be grateful for.
10-05-2006 10:04 PM
No, the producers [of Smallville] are not cowards. The creators and producers of this show are absolutely brilliant.
As far as religion, what would be the purpose? Inserting religion into this story wouldn't make sense. I am very involved in my church, myself. However, I would not want nor expect to see Clark spending time doing the same. That's not what this story is about. There are many things we don't see characters on television doing. For the most part, we don't see them sitting down every night and eating dinner. It's not an important part of the story. We only get 22 episodes each year. I would be the first to complain if they cut into the important stories needing to be told in those 22 episodes to include Clark praying or attending church. Pointless, in my opinion.
last man of krypton
10-05-2006 10:06 PM
I'm a Christian (and not in a flippant way, I mean a scripture-quoting, Bible-reading, God-is-center-of-my-life born-again Christian), but I don't agree Christianity should be be portrayed in Smallville. My primary reason is, are Al Gough and Miles Millar Christians? Judging by their eagerness to get Erica's clothes off, I don't think so. So they shouldn't feel the need to pressure writers into telling stories based on something they're not interested in and don't believe in. As someone mentioned earlier, there are Christian programs out there I could watch if I wanted to see characters displaying Biblical values (admittedly I've never heard of 7th Heaven, but I'll check it out now that it's been recommended). And presumably, if non-Christians wanted to see characters displaying values they're interested in, there are dozens of programs out there to cater for them.
By the same token, do I think pre-marital sex should be an integral part of the storylines? No. As much as non-Christians don't like being bombarded with Biblical morality and so forth, I don't like how certain behavior is portrayed as okay. But, I enjoy tales of Superman, so I'll take what I believe to be bad with the what I believe to be good. If anyone would change their lifestyle based on what they've seen in a 40 minute show, to be honest, they're likely to change their attitude just as quickly the next time something just as interesting stumbles their way.
10-05-2006 10:06 PM
You know, the last time I took a calculus class, the professor spent the entire semester not talking about God, religion, or the Bible. He was a coward.
My MasterCard bill this month has nothing in it about God, religion, or the Bible. They're cowards.
For some reason, the boxing match I'm watching is all about boxing and not at all about going to church. If I ever meet either of these fighters, I'll tell them straight to their cowardly faces that they're cowering cowards.
Because I expect everything I'm exposed to, to reflect my religious affiliation, no matter what it is. Everyone who doesn't make that happen is a coward.
I am the Superman
10-06-2006 12:28 AM>
re: "I never saw Superman as any kind of religious figure... Jor-El was a scientist after all..."
Hmm... Father sends child to earth to save mankind, no connection to religion there at all.
10-06-2006 12:35 AM
The question in the title: are they coward. My answer is yes.
Should they put more religious stuff like people going to church and praying? No. It's a bad idea from a marketing point of view and I don't think it would fit well in an artistic way neither.
10-06-2006 12:40 AM
One thing I don't get is that the people who made Superman were Jewish, right? So why is Superman not Jewish?
10-06-2006 12:45 AM
Good question. I'm not sure why not either.
10-06-2006 02:23 AM
Plenty of Jewish authors and artists depict characters who aren't Jewish, just as there are lots of men who write female characters and women who write male ones, white authors who create black characters and so on. Happens all the time.
10-06-2006 04:25 AM
It's politically incorrect to depict Christianity in a positive light. Lost takes a major risk in doing so, which is why Lost is an infinitely better show.
Aside from this: Warner Brothers hates Christianity. Take a peek at the comics done these days: You'll find Superman referencing Kryptonian deities in many instances. That is, he's neo-pagan. Sooner or later, they'll produce a Superman alternate reality in which he's getting married to Bruce Wayne.
I am personally astounded that the church has never appeared villainous on Smallville. I'm glad that they leave it out, in general, because there's evidence that they'd only screw it up if they tried.
Reference the past: The King David yap from whenever that was. Season 4?
Let's just be pleased when the writers manage to write something coherent and non-idiotic about Superman and be glad they're not drooling all over theology as well.
I am the Superman
10-06-2006 02:51 PM
I'm not a politically correct person. I hate political correctness, Down with P-Cness.
No one says what they mean anymore. Everyone is always tip-toeing around, afraid they will offend someone. Screw that.
10-06-2006 05:26 PM
Putting religion in a show just for the sake of putting it in is stupid. in the real world, lots of people go to church, we don't heal from serious injuries in less then a week, meteors can't give you super powers, and no matter how rich you are, if you break into the Pentagon your rear will be hauled off to Gitmo faster then Lana can say secrets and lies. The point is, Smallville is not like the real world it's, in essence, a 45-minute escape from reality. On Smallville people don't go to church they don't use the restroom, they always look good and there are no consequences for their actions. I, for one, like to keep my religious beliefs out of my entertainment.
10-06-2006 09:32 PM
re: "Hmm... Father sends child to earth to save mankind, no connection to religion there at all."
I was referring to Superman himself - not the movie version explanation as to why he was sent here. Originally Kal-el wasn't sent here to "save" mankind. He was sent here to escape the destruction of Krypton. The movies have made it look like Jor-el sent him here to save man.
10-06-2006 10:14 PM
But why would Clark believe in the Church?
Priest: Jesus came back from the dead.
Clark: So did I.
Priest: He turned water into wine.
Clark: I turned coal into diamond.
Priest: He walked on water.
Clark: Again so did I.
10-13-2006 04:21 PM
That would be kind of the point of making a "religious" episode.
10-07-2006 12:15 AM
That's so funny! [Referring to the hypothetical priest/Clark conversation.]
I think the reason religion is not mentioned on this show is because it's very hard to please every person's beliefs. Therefore, in order to avoid ruffling any feathers, it's best to just leave it alone. If you're in need of religion while watching Smallville, read your Bible while the show airs.
10-11-2006 12:37 AM
re: "One thing I don't get is that the people who made Superman were Jewish, right? So why is Superman not Jewish?"
Clark would probably look like "Hanukkah Harry" from SNL [Saturday Night Live], remember?
10-11-2006 03:28 AM
re: "One thing I don't get is that the people who made Superman were Jewish, right? So why is Superman not Jewish?"
It's because in the 30's when Superman first came out most Americans would not have looked favorably upon a Jewish superhero and the comic probably would not have sold. Sad but true.
10-11-2006 02:41 AM
I don't think religion really would fit into the show and I don't see any reason for the writers to be obligated to implement religion on to the show.
It's not meant to be a religious show. There's no need to put religion in it.
re: "No one says what they mean anymore. Everyone is always tip-toeing around, afraid they will offend someone. Screw that."
But you're demanding that the writers change Smallville into something they don't want it to be to avoid offending you?
The Producers don't mean Smallville to be a religious show.
10-11-2006 02:56 AM
There was a Smallville novel about religion and showed Clark going to church.
10-11-2006 03:55 AM
That was the book with the curse right?
Aside from that, I think that they should just leave religion out of it, whether it's the show or the comics. I think it should just be left out. I'm a Christian but I'm not very involved. I believe in God but am non-denominational because I really don't know what to believe. (People wrote and came up with the religions and you can never really know what's true, that's why it's faith, I guess.) But when it comes to a show like Smallville, I don't really think they need to to include it. People have all types of beliefs and if they want to like Superman they shouldn't have to have him be one religion. Not that he needs to be atheist either. They just need to have him be moral and he could be religious off-screen or off-panel. Plus, any scene showing that takes away something that you would either see Clark or one the other characters doing.
10-11-2006 04:16 AM
re: "...Despite some of the religious symbolism with Clark, the creators of the show completely forsake the reality of families living in rural Kansas. We should see people going to church, praying. The Kents are a God-fearing family..."
I agree. I wish that they would, at the least, they should show the Kents saying grace before each meal, like The Dukes Of Hazzard did! I see many people talking about 7th Heaven, I stopped watching that show because it was no longer Christian!!!!
10-13-2006 04:56 AM
Who says they have to be religious anyways? Or Christian? I mean, is everyone religious? I'm sure there is a family or two in Kansas that doesn't happen to be religious, or Christian.
Why should shows depict religion? Do you really need your beliefs to be all over television? Does it somehow make your belief in the religion stronger? Or is it that you want your faith to be everyones faith?
Maybe Clark Kent should be Buddhist! I bet if they did that you'd all go crazy and flame the show. But, religion is religion is it not?
Religion has no place on TV. TV is universal, and to put one religion on a show is singling out one group and turning its back on the others.
If you REALLY need a religious fix from TV I always see those broadcasted sermons or whatever, where the minister or reverend... or... whatever talk for an hour, with intermittent "amen's".
I am the Superman
10-13-2006 02:55 PM
re: "Or is it that you want your faith to be everyones faith?"
Of course I do. You just don't understand. You don't know the Lord.
10-13-2006 02:57 PM
For some, the Superman mythology in itself represents an almost religious importance. The code of ethics, the morals, all these things Superman represents and stands for can be easily applied to everyday life. It sets a standard in which many fans appeal to and try to practice just as in many worldwide religions where there is always a general concept of right and wrong, the fundamentals of religion.
10-13-2006 10:36 PM
I'm a Pastor and I am fine with the show not being heavily one way or the other in terms of religion. If anything, those topics polarize people so much it often makes a mess of good TV. That said, I think a positive role that religion could play is guidance for Clark. Are we really supposed to believe that a guy with those kinds of powers becomes that way without any real mentors around him. Jonathan was that compass for him, but his mother doesn't seem to have that influence any more. I think it would be kind of cool if they brought in a character who offered some wise council, and a Pastor might be a good choice, sort of like the For Tomorrow storyline in the comics. Just a thought.
Incidentally, I disagree that religion has no place in Sci-Fi, it has as much a place there as anything else.
10-14-2006 01:05 AM
...As for whether religion belongs in a show like Smallville, or on TV in general, it's strange that people would answer "DEFINITELY NOT" in a country in which 90% of its population identifies itself as believing in God. Why should all TV shows cater to the 10% of the country that is atheistic [or not affiliated with organized religion]?
Something as simple as hearing part of a sermon at Jonathan's funeral would be an easy way to inject a little faith into the show in a non-threatening manner.
10-14-2006 07:07 AM
I don't think they [the producers of Smallville] are cowards. Maybe cautious would be a better term. They are being smart since religion can ruin a show.
Two examples of this are Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and it's spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess. Without calling them that they brought in Christ and the devil.
I've heard several people that think those arcs were as bad for the shows as the wedding/clone arc was for Lois and Clark.
10-15-2006 04:59 AM
re: "Who says [the Kents] have to be religious anyways? Or Christian?"
You do know that Superman was created by two Jewish boys, it had the Christian religion all through the storyline, it mirrors that story of Moses from the Bible. Superman is Christian. It has been from the beginning!!!! There is no way that it can be "not religious"!!!!
10-15-2006 05:00 AM
There's a difference between undertones and symbolism, and being blatant.
10-15-2006 05:54 PM
...No, I don't think religion should be a major part of the show in order to avoid conflict with the oversensitive masses, as this thread clearly confirms. However, there's no need to boycott if there happens to be a church scene here and there (for instance)...
10-15-2006 09:25 PM
I agree [that religion] shouldn't be a big part of the show, but it would be nice if it had just a little, like with the Dukes of Hazzard. The Christian religion wasn't a big part of the show, but it did show them saying grace before each meal. It would be nice if Smallville would do something like that. It really isn't that much to ask, since it is set in Kansas, which is part of the Bible Belt, and the comic said that the Kents went to church.
I am the Superman
10-16-2006 03:06 PM
I agree with the consensus. I don't need, nor want, the show to become all about religion. That WOULD alienate viewers and take away from the purpose of the show. However, as others have said, it WOULD NOT be too much to ask to see them praying every once and a while, maybe a quick shot of them in Sunday mass, saying grace whatever.
10-16-2006 07:14 PM
If you show them going to mass then a lot of Evangelical Protestants would complain, since many of them believe that Catholics aren't true Christians. I'm not saying that all Evangelicals believe this, but I do live in an area that is heavily Evangelical and many of the people do think that being Catholic is practically the same thing as being a Satanist. They would want the Kents to be some sort of Protestant-type Christianity, like Baptists or Methodists or something like that.
10-19-2006 12:36 AM
They could have shown a minister reading a eulogy at Jonathan's funeral. That wouldn't be "preaching/crusade." They wouldn't even actually have to have it be audible; just a montage of things from the funeral set to music, and the minister could have been one of them. A perfect opportunity to show something perfectly normal at a funeral.
10-19-2006 01:20 AM
I don't think all TV shows should stay away from religious themes. I just don't think Smallville is the type of show to be able to handle such a thing. Let's forget about Superman for a moment and think about the show itself. It's kind of emotionally shallow and not really very deep. Even if I was a Christian (and I'm not, I'm an agnostic) I'm not sure I'd want to see the writers clumsily and phonily trying to add in religious elements, and probably failing miserably at making any religious feeling seem sincere. The writers have enough trouble writing realistic human-to-human emotions and interactions, let alone religious emotions.
re: "They could have shown a minister reading a eulogy at Jonathan's funeral."
I can't see how anybody could have any sort of problem with that.
10-19-2006 04:01 AM
I don't see how being a coward has anything to do with it. Did you stop to think that the producers simply don't share your religious opinions. I know I don't, and if there was a religious undertone in Smallville I wouldn't watch it. As for the person who stated that the Kents were religious in the early comics. Of course they were, look at the times. If you weren't a Christian, you were a Nazi. With a comic whose leading character possessed god-like powers, they had to make him God-fearing. If not, people would have been saying that Superman was trying to take the place of God...
I am the Superman
10-19-2006 03:29 PM
re: "...if there was a religious undertone in Smallville I wouldn't watch it."
Are you kidding me? You wouldn't watch Superman if he had anything to do with religion? TOO LATE. Superman, out of all the comic book heroes, is the most closely tied to religion. He represents Jesus Christ, for crying out loud. Most [people] won't even dispute that.
Looks like you better find another superhero to follow, at least if you don't follow religious ones.
10-19-2006 03:46 PM
The Superman-Christ thing is fairly new. Before that, it was the Superman-Moses thing.
Nevertheless, because of people's views on religion and the fact that Smallville is being aimed towards younger people, I think it was probably a smart move on the part of the writers.
Not one I would have made myself, but they are targeting the audience.
10-19-2006 08:00 PM
Remember that the very name "El" is Hebrew for "God" (Elohim). So Jor-El, Kal-El, you can't escape the religious undertone there. There are definitely parallels to Moses and possibly Christ (I would lean more towards Moses simply because the creators of Superman were Jewish, not Christian, but perhaps Superman could represent a Messianic figure).
10-19-2006 09:23 PM
It is a fairly new concept. I've been a long time Superman fan, and never made the connection to Christ. I think the Superman Returns film has a lot to do with that: using certain imagery as well as extra Jor-el footage to make it look like he sent his son here to "save man." Superman doesn't preach, offer any salvation, feed or heal people. Basically he is Kal-el - an alien from a far off planet - who escaped its destruction, came to Earth where he got incredible powers, and was brought up by the Kents to be a good guy and use his powers to help people. I suppose he could do a lot more, like feed the poor, heal the sick, build great structures to live in, but it's mostly fighting crime and saving lives.
10-19-2006 11:11 PM
re: "They could have shown a minister reading a eulogy at Jonathan's funeral..."
But the question is: why?
They entered the funeral scene as people were leaving so they could get Clark all alone. There's the cinematic appeal of seeing everyone look at Clark, then leave him. Do you think they should have added in a montage of the actual funeral before doing that? I think it would have lost some of the beauty and sadness of the scene.
I can perfectly understand the situation you're talking about. I just don't think it was needed in that particular instance. It was much more dramatic to have it play out the way it did.
That said, Smallville has made brief mentions of God (mostly by Lex ... "I'm not trying to get closer to God"), but has never in its history done anything religious. Why should it start now?
Can you think of something actually religious that would be easily inserted in the show, as seamlessly as you say a minister could be inserted in a funeral scene? Because the thing about funerals is, I knew atheists who wanted (and had) Christian or Catholic ministers at their funerals just because. So I have a tough time buying a minister at a funeral as something marking the "religiousness" of the characters. And if you're not doing it for the characters, why are you doing it at all? Just for the sake of having religious undertones at all?
For me (personally), that would be worse than not having them at all.
10-19-2006 11:34 PM
I just see it as ridiculous that we've seen at least three funerals on the show and no minister/priest.
10-19-2006 11:38 PM
Superman has been portrayed as more of a moral and ethical figure than a religious one. He, more than any other, is a superhero for all people. I prefer Clark's specific religious beliefs to be left to the imagination of the viewer. He is a unifying figure, and any specific preference may detract from the overall message of personal virtue.
10-20-2006 04:51 AM
re: "I just see it as ridiculous that we've seen at least three funerals on the show and no minister/priest."
Check out the end of "Crush" [Smallville Season 1, Episode 19].
There's a priest at Whitney's dad's funeral (close up of him closing his book, probably just finished a prayer or something).
10-20-2006 04:54 AM
THERE. You have your insert of religion. I think I remember that. I may have to watch it again to be sure. You've had at least A religion implanted on the show in one way or another. You should be content.
But... knowing you, you won't be... Not until the entire show has a cross in the background, and Bible verses are quoted at the beginning of every episode while Clark is in church...
10-20-2006 08:39 AM
Gosh, you're not stereotyping at all, are you? I can definitely see how you'd jump from seeing a minister at a funeral suddenly means we need crosses and Bibles and Scripture verses. And there's the implication that anyone who even slightly approves of religion on TV is some overly-driven religious zealot. Stop the stereotyping and learn some tact.
10-20-2006 06:00 AM
When Jonathan died, there was a priest.
10-20-2006 07:05 AM
re: "When Jonathan died, there was a priest."
Are you sure? I didn't see one.... Though.... Is that Pete? Did I see Pete? I'm watching it on YouTube so the quality isn't great, but the first person to turn around and start walking away... is that Pete?
He kind of comes and goes, and I was never sure, but I would figure Pete would come back for this.
I am the Superman
10-20-2006 07:46 PM
...I think religion should be a part of Smallville because its part of the character, and it would provide a good example for all who watch the show.
Kids who watch Smallville could see Clark praying, and that would make them more interested in the right way to live.
10-24-2006 08:33 PM
...The producers are not cowards, just smart. you see, if they made it clear if the Kents were Christian, Catholic, etc., the rating would drop, because some people would not want to watch it because it was about people with that one religion.
From: "Religions of super heroes" forum discussion, started 14 August 2006 on the Wizard Universe website (http://wizarduniverse.invisionzone.com/lofiversion/index.php/t1595.html; viewed 20 June 2007):
Aug 15 2006, 08:28 PM
re: ...how did they figure all of this out? [referring to the religious affiliation of comic book characters]
Well, consider that a lot of comic creators are Jewish. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Bob Kane. Gil Kane. Consider that when Gil Kane created the Silver Age Green Lantern [Hal Jordan], he modeled the Guardians of the Universe after the very first Prime Minister of Israel. Also, Stan Lee is Jewish. Can't think of any more; but I am sure there are.
I believe there is even a book entitled "Up, Up and Oy Vey!"
Aug 16 2006, 11:13 AM
Actually, I read somewhere that Kal-El is the Hebrew word for "Voice of G-d".
Aug 16 2006, 02:59 PM
I'm Jewish. I've written stories. I've submitted stories. [But I have never had anything accepted or published.] Maybe my fault is not considering the religious aspects of a character.
I don't think may writers take it into consideration when writing a character though??
Aug 16 2006, 09:40 PM
I don't know, I think a lot of the epic stories religions give us can be for some good inspiration. For example, I recently wrote some work for a manga where the character borrows some elements from the story of Moses. I know a lot of people compare Superman's origins to Jesus and Moses. I don't know if it's a necessity, but it could help.
It may also help that I think Jews have had a bad rep for centuries (heck, I was reading in Ivanhoe that they were hated across Europe and could only get jobs as money lenders). I remember hearing Jews weren't being allowed into Ivy League Colleges, but they ended up making some smaller schools into sought-after institutions (maybe someone could help me a bit, I don't remember the names of the schools that benefitted). Perhaps there were so many Jews in comics because even today comics aren't really regarded very highly by the US public and they couldn't really get work elsewhere.
Aug 17 2006, 11:40 PM
Na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na BATJEW!
LOL, my friend and I actually came up with this character, along with SuperJew, who, instead of having an s on his chest, he has the hebrew character for s.
I hope no one is offended by this, especially since the friend who helped me come up with these characters is Jewish.
Aug 18 2006, 12:10 PM
They all ready made the Superjew movies. Haven't you seen Mystery Men?
Myself, being Jewish, enjoyed the all-Jewish cast very much.
From: Jean-Claude Van Doom, "Which god's side are they on?", posted 20 August 2006 on the Legion of Doom blog website (http://legionofdoom.cheeksofgod.com/?p=170; viewed 9 May 2007):
...Sadly, as a Presbyterian, my only protectors are Wolfsbane and Speedball, apparently...
However, I was raised Methodist, so if I fall back on that (and really, how much different are Methodists and Presbyterians?) I can claim Superman, Supergirl and Superboy (although he's dead now/for now)...
From: "Where are the Christian Superheroes?" forum discussion, started 22 August 2006 on the Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-81451.html; viewed 5 May 2007):
08-22-2006, 10:03 AM
...I pose the question to you, my fellow Talk@Ramanians: If Christianity is the most popular faith in the United States, why aren't there more openly Christian superheroes?
08-22-2006, 11:40 AM
While certainly not canon, [Mark] Waid & [Alex] Ross commented on the religion of the major characters for Kingdom Come. I may be wrong in my recollection, but they claimed that Superman is Lutheran and Batman is Methodist?
I'd like to see more Christian characters, especially non-Catholic ones.
08-22-2006, 12:01 PM
re: Outside of the northeast, there's an often huge difference, especially socially, in Christian denominations. I think that would play a significant role in team politics.
But... how are they so different that you can think of Kingdom Come Superman as Lutheran and Kingdom Come Batman as Methodist? I mean, what kind of, i don't know, ideology/theology/customs would influence the way they act or think? Or are they just the same, but belonging to different groups, like a Bloods and Crips thing?
08-22-2006, 02:59 PM
I generally assume most characters are agnostic, unless shown otherwise. I think it'd be cool if there were a few more openly Protestant characters around though. Superman being a Lutheran would definitely be pretty cool:D but I don't think his creators would be too happy with that.
And I have been known to discuss religion in public, however, it was at the local Christian youth hangout with some of my friends from my church youth group. I was the one trying to convince my friend of the existence of evolution.
From: "The official Injustice League team thread" forum discussion, started 12 October 2006 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000094288&tstart=90&start=2550; viewed 6 July 2007):
Posted: Jul 1, 2007 7:07 PM
While you are in Arkham you might get a laugh out of this, I did not know half this stuff
Posted: Jul 1, 2007 7:12 PM
I had a feeling Supes was Methodist. He's like Hank Hill...
Posted: Jul 2, 2007 12:39 PM
re: I had a feeling Supes was Methodist.
This was actually addressed in last month's Action Comics. It talked about his [Superman's] religion, he used to be really Christian [and specifically Methodist] but then stopped going to church at 14. I guess his new powers gave him a different perspective on higher beings. Now he's part Christian and part Kryptonian Religious where he worships Rao.
From: "There Are No Lions Here", posted 15 October 2006 on the Pretty, Fizzy Paradise blog website (http://kalinara.blogspot.com/2006/10/there-are-no-lions-here.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
At 7:48 PM, david brothers said:
...I've seen the Adherents site, and I think it's a great thing. A lot of it, though, is conjecture, and a lot of that conjecture is telling. Most of the usenet posts tend to start "What religion is X" or "I never really thought that X character had religion..." Most people don't realize that these characters have fleshed out back-stories that include religion because it's never mentioned. If you were to suggest that Superman were Methodist or Batman anything but atheist/agnostic (I lean toward the latter more than the former) to the average comics fan, they'd laugh at you. But, for every Wolfsbane or Ben Grimm we have that does show their religion, we've got a Stryker, a crazy Austen nun, or whatever...
At 10:03 PM, David Horenstein said:
I'm sorry, but Superman is clearly Jewish. Several people have done detailed explanations as to why he is Jewish and his creators were Jews and based most of Superman's beliefs and personality on themselves (including having a crush on a girl that didn't know he existed).
Any reference to him being otherwise is false. :P
At 11:32 PM, Tom Foss said:
David: Superman has never explicitly been given a religious affiliation. Yes, Siegel and Shuster were Jewish, and Superman was based on the stories of Moses and Samson as well as Flash Gordon and Hercules. But the religion of the creator certainly does not necessarily translate to the religion of the creation. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were both Jewish, yet the only explicitly Jewish character to come out of their many collaborations was Ben Grimm.
Indeed, it's the nature of serial storytelling to privilege the creators' intent over those who have worked on the property since then, but much of what we consider the "Superman" story was developed by others, of varying faiths, even while Siegel and Shuster had some measure of control over the property. Many people have left a lasting mark, and major contributions, to the Superman mythos, regardless of their faith orientations, and I imagine quite a lot of them had their own ideas about what Superman's belief system was. Elliot S! Maggin, with whom I often do not agree on Superman interpretation, nonetheless contributed a great deal to the character, and while he's Jewish and well-versed in the character's history, he's the one who suggested (out of continuity, of course) that Superman was Methodist.
The matter of Superman's religious beliefs is up to interpretation; any blanket statements as to the truth or falsehood of Superman's belief system is unfounded. There's a good case for Superman being Jewish, but there's an equally good case for him being pretty much any other religion (and while I've seen him celebrate Christmas, I've never seen him in the moral quandary of needing to save people on the Sabbath). The fact is that Superman's beliefs weren't addressed by Siegel and Shuster, and while they indeed based the Man of Steel on their own lives, they based him also on the pulp heroes of the time, and the mythological and classical heroes that predate him. The subject of Superman's faith is certainly not set in stone.
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters (Doug Ramsey Fans, please help)" forum discussion, started 17 October 2006 on the Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-87949.html; viewed 20 June 2007):
10-17-2006, 02:42 PM
I found this site white tries to identify the religious affiliation of comic book characters.
10-17-2006, 04:56 PM
Silly site lists Superman as Protestant... LOL.
From: Mike Chary, "Blasphemy and the Single Superhero", posted 20 October 2006 on the All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism! blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009992.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
I've often wondered about the interjections that superheroes use. Great Scott! Holy Moly! Holy Mackerel! Great Hera! Great Rao! These all violate one or more commandments, and yet, the code authority says nothing!
The most important of the Ten Commandments is, of course, 3. Thou shalt not take the name of the lord thy God in vain. Why is this more important than, for instance, murdering someone? Well, because that's the commandment that shows they were probably written by God himself.
The others, well, any moron could tell you it's wrong to steal or sleep with someone's wife, and the religious authorities will know to tell you not to worship another god or to go to church, but saying the Big Guy's name in vain? Well, that's a deity who is getting annoyed by people constantly bothering him. "Leave me alone unless it's important!" is what the commandment is saying. The third commandment is the theological equivalent of taking Jimmy's signal watch away...
But Great Scott is quite possibly a derivation of the German version of "Great God" from "Greuss Gott!" and "Great Rao!" refers to the Kryptonian version of God, one assumes in much the same way that Yahweh or Allah refers to the God of the Book as well.
And then we have the first commandment: "I am the Lord thy God, and thall shalt not have any strange gods before me!" Well, there seem to be an awful lot of holy things in comics for this commandment. Without getting into Robin's puns, who's this Moly guy, and why does Captain Marvel think he's so holy? (Moly is actually a magical, mythical Greek herb, but thus also falls into the strange gods category.) Or how about Holy Hannah? Great Caesar's Ghost?
Holy Mackerel! Those a lot of expressions, but seriously, where do these things come from?
[Reader comments about this blog posting:]
Posted by: ravensron at October 20, 2006 7:00 PM
I thought the whole purpose of these exclamations was so the characters could show great feeling while technically avoiding taking the name in vain.
Posted by: moose n squirrel at October 21, 2006 9:34 AM
On the etymology of "Great Scott." While a word origin connected to Grüß Gott [GruB Gott] is possible, is doesn't sound likely (the author of this piece identifies the phrase as "certainly American, of Civil War era at the latest"), although like most phrases of the "Great X!" variety it apparently originated as a euphemism for God.
This is all besides the point, though, since I doubt God would really notice Superman's euphemistic invocations of Scott, or Billy Batson's appeals to Moley. This is, after all, a deity sensitive enough to become offended if you type out the generic english word "god," but is tricked into thinking you aren't invoking its name if you swap out the "o" with a hyphen...
Posted by: Mike Chary at October 21, 2006 9:55 AM
...I'm also saying that "Great Rao" says something about Superman. It either says "I'm a Kryptonian and I invoke the name of the God of Kryptonians!" or it says "I'm a total poser who doesn't know any better than to take the name of Rao in vain." The presence of Kandor makes that unlikely, of course. Or it says something about the Kryptonian religion. Our monotheistic religions aren't too happy about taking the name of the deity in vain. Does Krypton have no problem with it?
...By the way, I find the German derivation more likely than the idea that soldiers decided to use Winfield Scott's name as an exclamation. "Great Sherman" and "Great Lee" aren't floating around as exclamations...
Posted by: moose n squirrel at October 21, 2006 11:00 AM
...The implication is that Scott was used precisely because it sounds sort of like "God." That's why it's a euphemism. All of this was probably lost on Silver Age Superman writers, though, who knew the expression but not its origin.
When the vast majority of English-speakers say "goodbye," they're not actually consciously invoking "God be with ye," nor does the expression "God bless you" after a sneeze still used to prevent demons from possessing a vacated body after the temporary expulsion of the soul through one's nostrils. To describe characters like Superman and Captain Marvel as "blasphemers" for using expressions like "Great Scott" is silly. One can only "blaspheme" to the extent that one intends to blaspheme, and the use of expressions which have long ago lost any cultural connection to God just doesn't cut it for that purpose...
From: Doug Tonks, "A Higher Power", posted 22 October 2006 on the All New! All Different! Howling Curmudgeons: Two-Fisted Comics Commentary and Criticism! blog website (http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009995.html; viewed 25 April 2007):
Posted by Doug at October 22, 2006 7:12 PM
The never-identified but usually heeded "they" claim that there are two topics you should never talk about: religion and politics. But since Mike already brought up religion [link to: http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons/archives/009992.html], I'll follow it up with a link to this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], which lists the religious affiliations of various comic book characters. Many of the religious identifications are backed up with lengthy supporting arguments, but some of the more minor characters get little or nothing in the way of explanation.
Some of them are not too surprising: Superman, raised in the Midwest heartland, is Methodist (although he has some links to Kryptonian religions)...
[Comments posted by readers of this page:]
Posted by: Chris M. at October 24, 2006 11:48 AM
As it also happens, I'm Methodist, grandson of a preacher, and my Methodist mom has a sixth-degree blackbelt in guilt-fu, believe you me!
While appreciate what these guys are trying to do from a pure geek-fun perspective, but it's largely wasted effort. For instance, who cares if Maggin and Millar wrote Superman thinking he was Methodist? Unless it's boldly and directly stated in text (and please, Great Rao, don't go there), someone else could come along and establish that the Kents are Swiss Reformationists or whatever. I'm quite certain that most of the writers who wrote Ben Grimm for forty years didn't "write him to be" Jewish (most likely because they didn't think he was)...
From: "Religion in the DCU?" forum discussion, started 25 October 2006 on the Comic Bloc website (http://www.comicbloc.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-37480.html; viewed 20 July 2007):
October 25th, 2006, 11:41 AM
I think the DCU has the Campbellian ideal:
All Religions Are True.
After all, look at the JLA. We have a pagan Greek, an alien, an agnostic, an Native American Spiritualism follower, and that's all I can think of right now.
October 27th, 2006, 02:54 PM
For the curious, the reason Judaism doesn't look at Christ as the Messiah is we who are Jewish believe all people below G*d are equal to each other.
I also like that about comics. Unfortunately, people will often try to change characters to EXACTLY their beliefs. AKA, "Superman is an alien so he couldn't be a Christian!" (Talk to C.S. Lewis about this one. His writings on aliens are a lot of fun to read, though certainly not orthodox.) Or maybe (though I haven't heard this one) Mr. Terrific can't be the third smartest person in the DCU because he's an atheist! (Actually, it's very possible that that's the reason he's the THIRD-smartest rather than the smartest. :p just kidding)
BTW [by the way], we Christians also believe that all humans who are below God are equal. The issue is, we believe that Jesus WAS God, and therefore could be the Messiah. Out of curiosity, do you believe that there is going to be a Messiah? If so, wouldn't this person fall under this same parameter? Thanks in advance for the answer.
From: Benjamin Russell, "Flying in the Face of Leviticus 11:23", posted 26 October 2006 on the m3lbatoast / peregrinations blog website (http://188.8.131.52/2006/10/flying-in-face-of-leviticus-1123.html; viewed 24 April 2007):
...What superhero isn't representative of some Jewish ideal?
Superheroes representing religion came forefront in the public consciousness when Bryan Singer has Superman crucify himself for the sins of humanity in this summer's Superman Returns. Many people were dissatisfied with the whole Superman = Christ imagery, but it didn't bother me, as I felt it was portrayed with more grace and dignity than the doves and halos that tend to populate every John Woo flick. Also, I had always associated Superman with religion since listening to Michael Shapiro speak on NPR about the 100 most influential Jews of all time, a list that began with Moses and ended with Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, creators of the extraterrestrial boy in blue. And since a great many superhero creators were Jewish [link to: http://reformjudaismmag.net/03winter/comics.shtml], so I naturally associated Superman more with Moses than Jesus, but it's difficult for Americans not to find or make Christ parallels in anything, given enough time, and Superman's had an awful long time to slowly morph from his original intent to the pure American boy scout he is today.
From: "Legion of Atheist Super-Heroes" forum discussion, started 17 November 2006 on the Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-152692.html; viewed 30 May 2007):
11-17-2006, 05:19 PM
11-18-2006, 07:56 AM
...And if Superman is Methodist, why did he go to a Catholic priest in the "For Tomorrow" arc?
11-18-2006, 10:16 AM
I think the rationale I read once was "well, most people in Kansas are Methodist". Eh.
From: "The religion of comic book characters" forum discussion, started 3 December 2006 on the RPG.net website (http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?t=299781&page=2; viewed 25 April 2007):
12-04-2006, 05:26 AM
Re: The religion of comic book characters...
Didn't people try to worship Superman at some point? I think it was during his death storyline, maybe right after? How'd they end up?
12-04-2006, 05:37 AM
They had a schism during the "Reign of the Supermen" story arc, during which all four of Superman titles was taken over by a different person claiming to be Superman.
One claimed to have given up on his humananity (and thus his Clark Kent Alter Ego) and was quite willing to kill, but had to wear sunglasses... He was called the Last Son of Krypton for a while...
Another claimed to have cybernetic reconstruction, and thus was called the cyborg superman...
The Worshippers of Supes got into a fight over which was the real Superman, it turned out neither was.
The Last Son of Krypton turned out to be a Sentient Kryptonian war machine, while the Cyborg was an old foe of Superman.
AFAIK They then disappeared from being mentioned for a while after Superman returned( as they claimed he would).
SuperBoy's recent death lead many people to begin making the same claims about him(that he would return and so forth).
12-04-2006, 05:46 AM
Somewhat more obscure, but explicit, stories about "Superman worship" appeared in the two-page "Sunday Comic Strip" style Superman feature in Action Comics Weekly, and a "Church of Supergirl" sprang up during Peter David's run on Supergirl.
12-04-2006, 06:29 AM
Quote: Originally Posted by Manitou: AFAIK They then disappeared from being mentioned for a while after Superman returned( as they claimed he would).
Not exactly. Steel is a very popular character who still shows up on a steady basis, Last Son of Krypton turned out to be the Eradicator (a Kryptonian super-weapon created by an ancestor of Superman) in human form and he was a gritty 90's-style hero on his own for a while, and the Cyborg is a recurring villain on Superman's level, who started out as a kind of parody-homage-satire of Reed Richards but has turned into a sort of cooler version of Metallo (with ten times the megalomania). Lately he's been enslaved by Darkseid.
...errr, unless you were talking about the Church of Superman, in which case you're entirely correct.
12-05-2006, 02:23 PM
I think its funny imagining Superman as a Christian. Krypton totally gets the shaft, but the Son of God himself comes down to help the Earth out.
12-05-2006, 04:15 PM
Quote: Originally Posted by Vigorous Ape: I think its funny imagining Superman as a Christian. Krypton totally gets the shaft, but the Son of God himself comes down to help the Earth out.
As if Superman doesn't have enough trouble given the story parallels between him and Jesus, anyway...
Their logic's fairly right, though: regardless of what Clark believes right now, odds are very good that he was raised Christian.
From: "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters (website)" forum discussion, started 4 December 2006 on the FanHost Networks website (http://forums.fanhost.com/music-cartoons-and-celebrity-info-124/cartoons-and-comics-175/152132-the-religious-affiliation-of-comic-book-characters-website.html; viewed 4 June 2007):
04-12-2006, 11:14 PM
I found this site very informative:
4-12-2006, 11:19 PM
Yeah, I read this. Superman a Methodist... doesn't seem too farfetched, I suppose...
04-16-2006, 12:46 AM
Believe it or not I have actually seen that site before. I found it really interesting reading about how religion comes across in different characters. Thanks.
From: "Superheroes by Religion" forum discussion, started 11 January 2007 on the Political Crossfire website (http://www.politicalcrossfire.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=73989; viewed 16 July 2007):
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:20 pm
I wasn't sure whether to put this here or the Lounge, but this place rarely has anything light-hearted, so I suppose it needs it. So, here it is. I thought this was fascinating and should be expanded:
Yes, the Thing is a Jew.
I never expected that, lol [laugh out loud]...
Superman and Batman are, of course... Christian. ["Rolling Eyes" emoticon] (Superman is a Methodist, Batman is an Anglican.)...
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 7:28 pm
I wonder what religion they had on Krypton.
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:00 pm
Well, they [Kryptonians] were highly advanced and their planet was destroyed in one cataclysmic explosion, so I'm guessing they were secularists.
Posted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 8:30 pm
re: "Well, they were highly advanced and their planet was destroyed in one cataclysmic explosion, so I'm guessing they were secularists."
Plot device or subtle social commentary?
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 10:46 am
They [Kryptonians] were atheists and that's what you get. ["Laughing" emoticon]
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:12 am
Supes [Superman] is a Methodist.
Posted: Fri Jan 12, 2007 3:13 am
...Superman is still ethnically Jewish, it's just he was raised by Midwestern Methodists. Good people btw [by the way], those Midwestern Methodists. ["Thumbs up" emoticon].
Posted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 2:30 pm
Wait. Superman was an alien. He wasn't ethnically Jewish.
Posted: Sun Jan 14, 2007 3:02 pm
Unless there are Jews in space. ["Thinking" emoticon]
From: "Is Spider-Man Jewish?" forum discussion, started 15 January 2007 on the Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-160187.html; viewed 28 May 2007):
Brian "Vash" Ashby
01-17-2007, 01:15 AM
...Also, for some reason Superman being a Christian seems weird considering he's an alien. Shouldn't he have some sort of Kryto-faith?
01-17-2007, 01:20 AM
Well, he believes in Rao, if that helps.
01-17-2007, 04:35 AM
He was raised on Earth by adopted Christian parents. He might be interested in the religion of his ancestors, but I doubt he would convert to that religion without a significant religious experience.
Brian "Vash" Ashby
01-17-2007, 04:42 AM
Well his parents' Methodist (that seems to be the popular consensus) faith doesn't really explain anything about Kryptonians. When he learned he was an alien and such I would expect him to leave behind human religion.
From: "OT: Religious superteams" forum discussion, started 13 February 2007 on the Soap Operus website (http://www.gossiping.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=167&view=previous&sid=98473f5c220e5dd12ab4c10df9d53477&mforum=so; viewed 29 June 2007):
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 3:15 pm
Religious superteams: Your favorite superheroes, sorted by faith. [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]
Posted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 11:55 pm
That was kinda cool. People have written entire essays on the religious denominations of various super-powered folks.
But Superman as methodist? Didn't see that coming.
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 12:44 am
Well, he's from Kansas. Apparently it's big there.
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:24 am
The article makes the distinction, though. Clark's from Kansas. Superman is from somewhere else, although nobody's ever really looked at Kryptonian spirituality.
[Editor: We are not aware that the article makes any such distinction. Such a sentiment may be expressed by one or more of the people quoted in the "Discussion" section.]
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 1:29 am
Culture = nurture. Clark is pure American in that respect.
Posted: Wed Feb 14, 2007 2:05 am
Well, Kryptonians worship a god named Rao, whom we know little about (except that he was encouraged by Despair of the endless to design Krypton with a flaw that would make it blow up, and to allow one survivor to escape to mourn the rest of his race). I think in the Silver age Superman did worship Rao.
Also, the Reverend Craig thing did throw me there, but they do include villains in this list. (Apocalypse for example). So, whatever.
From: David Thompson, "Secret Knowledge, Revealed", posted 1 March 2007 on the David Thompson: Culture, Ideas and Comic Books blog website (http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/comic_books/index.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
...Naturally, the database also includes extraterrestrial belief systems (e.g. Kryptonian metaphysics and Apokolipsian Darkseid Worship)...
From: "Whose family attends what church?" forum discussion, started 11 March 2007 on the ComiCon website (http://www.comicon.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=2;t=009521;p=0; viewed 5 May 2007):
posted 04-12-2007 10:16 AM
A few thoughts...
Superman's a fellow Methodist! Ha, I knew he was one of us, mainly because Ma and Pa Kent seemed to be Methodist...
From: "Does Supes believe in God?" forum discussion, started 22 April 2007 on the Superman Home Page website (http://www.supermanhomepage.com/forum/viewthread.php?forum_id=20&thread_id=5883; viewed 2 July 2007):
Posted on April 22, 2007 7:18pm
Does Supes believe in God?
While I personally don't, It wouldn't necessarily shock me if he did. There's that scene in S2 [the film Superman 2] where Clark (minus his powers) defends Lois, and gets his @$$ whooped, when he sees that he was bleeding, he says "Oh God. Oh God.". I don't if that's just what he says when he's stressed/scared (I do), or if he was praying to God so he would save him. Although, in some peoples eyes, he is a god. All that said, does Superman believe in God?
Posted on April 22, 2007 8:07pm
After Superman died I remember Martha Kent telling Lois that they raised Clark to believe in an afterlife (I think this is in the World Without a Superman graphic novel), so I assume he believes in some kind of spirituality. Whether or not it's the traditional Judeo-Christian form of God, I have no idea.
Posted on April 22, 2007 9:57pm
Well, people say "oh, God" all the time even if they don't believe in God. I don't either. I don't think we should talk about anything too religious though. In S2 [Superman 2], he lost his powers and he really had to get them back and he couldn't communicate with his father so he says, oh God (please help me!). Maybe because he thought now would be a good time to believe in God right now because he needed help or either he really does believe in God and he was praying for his help. I don't think we have to worry about about if he's not Jewish or Christian because everyone likes Superman, I mean lots of people do, Christians and Jewish people. If he is Christian or Jewish, it doesn't mean he's a totally different person from you. We should all be considered as the same people even if some of us believe in different things.
Posted on April 22, 2007 11:36pm
Well, he was raised with mid-American values. And religion is at the top of the list. So I think it would be safe to assume that he does.
Posted on April 23, 2007 4:09am
That's a "BIG NEGATIVE"... I definitely don't think Superman believes in God.
Was there any type of religion on Krypton?! "IF" there was, then it would have been included with the crystals, would it not have been? I mean, one would assume that Superman would stay pretty darn neutral don't you think???
Posted on April 23, 2007 5:32am
I thought Clark Kent believes in God and Superman is kind of secular. He favors no religion over another. I think the religion of Krypton is kind of like the ancient religions of Egypt/Romans/Greeks, but don't quote me as I'm not that knowledgeable. I think this was answered by a comic writer/editor in the past year in one of the question sessions on this site. By the way, the main god is Rao or is a Sun god, I believe, which has been mentioned a bit over the years in the comics. I know I've read it.
Posted on April 23, 2007 12:22pm
I don't think religion on Krypton has anything to do with it. If he were raised there, maybe it would be a factor. But he wasn't.
Posted on April 23, 2007 1:07pm
That's why I said he didn't play favorites with any religions. I remember reading it in the comics. I think when he died they had a lot of religions represented at the funeral. He does this because he's there to help others not any of the religions. Including the Superman cult (I only vaguely know about that).
Posted on April 23, 2007 4:00pm
Kryptonian religion has no bearing on him at all. He was raised as a human being from middle America. Pretty darn close to the bible belt as well. My guess is he was raised to believe in God, but obviously things changed when he found out about himself. But just because he's an alien doesn't mean that there is no God. After all, he did create us all (according to religion).
Posted on April 23, 2007 4:21pm
Note to self: Everyone is crazy except swright.
Edit: and after further review, adamatomic.
Posted on April 24, 2007 6:39pm
I don't think he does because most religions don't believe in other life such as aliens. They believe that we're it. So by him being an alien would kind of damper the thought of him believing in God or having an earthly religion.
Posted on April 24, 2007 9:28pm
re: I don't think he does because most religions don't believe in other life such as aliens...
I don't think you can use this as an argument. Given the sheer preponderance of aliens in just about any continuity of Superman's, you can't rationally expect anyone to not believe in aliens. Disbelief will be shattered to pieces the first time a couple of hordes of para-demons descend from on high, or the white Martians attack, or Superman himself dukes it out with Doomsday in the middle of Metropolis, or after an alien destroys Coast City, need I go on?
The point is, there's a difference between not accepting scientific theory and putting one's fingers in one's ears and shouting "I'm not listening!" The Earth is invaded far too often for people not to believe in aliens.
Also, I always thought the afterlife was kind of a foregone conclusion in the DCU. After all, it's hard to have a divine spirit of vengeance like the Spectre if there is no afterlife. The average joe might not know diddly about the Spectre, but Superman certainly does. So I'd say it's less a question of whether or not he believes, but rather what he believes. Based on where he landed, I'd say he's probably either Christian or perhaps Jewish. However, much like Neal, I'd be extremely corked if they ever try to firmly establish his religious beliefs.
And it goes without saying that he would never have any sort of religious preference during his duties as Superman.
Posted on April 24, 2007 11:09pm
Since religion has never been covered in detail in the DC universe I was just using our world's religions and all thoughts on this subject would be nothing but speculation because of that. So for one to ask if Superman believes in God with having no knowledge of a DC religion one would have to use ours for the basis of discussion. With that said I still stand by my original thoughts.
[Editor: This poster seems ignorant of the fact that many religions and many religious people do indeed believe in the existence of aliens, even in the real world. Many denominations of Christianity specifically believe in the existence of intelligent life on other planets.]
Posted on April 25, 2007 12:19am
Hah! Another thread diluting what Superman stands for. Excellent!
It has been speculated by many that Superman's story is an allegorical representation of Jesus Christ and Christianity. How can Superman and Christ have so much in common and not have the same ideals? Sure, I don't expect to read a comic and see Clark going to Catholic communion, but religion goes far beyond ritual.
For those who don't "get it", you can read "The Gospel According to The World's Greatest Superhero."
Neal also has a review for the book:
The book is really good. I enjoyed it immensely.
Posted on April 25, 2007 1:08am
re: Since religion has never been covered in detail in the DC universe I was just using our world's religions...
One doesn't necessarily have to have any knowledge of DCU religions in this case. It's a matter of dealing with observable fact. Most religions believed that the Earth was flat, and that it was the center of the universe. Now that science has proved rather conclusively that this is not the case, only a small fringe maintains these notions. It's the same thing. No mainstream social group, be it religious or otherwise, could stand up if it was actively denying a phenomenon that is occurring on so regular a basis. Heck, there are enough aliens in the Justice League over the years that any religious group would have to acknowledge their existence. You can't say that just because our religions don't believe in aliens the DCU analogs don't, and then argue that since we don't know enough about DCU analogs to make educated guesses about them.
re: Hah! Another thread diluting what Superman stands for. Excellent!
What do you mean by diluting? I think some good discussion and insight might come from this little discussion. As long as Superman doesn't become some holy crusader, I don't think religion in this case dilutes anything about him.
Although I must agree, that book was truly awesome.
Posted on April 25, 2007 1:20am
re: What do you mean by diluting?...
I meant the contrary. As someone else said above, he was raised with Mid-west American values which by and large embody Christian values. (Wasn't there a minister at his father's funeral?)
When something is compromised, compromised, compromised, and then compromised again. . . it is but a fraction of its formal self. Those who believe Superman embodies all religions are simply stretching the character too thin and "diluting" what he once was to appease their own beliefs.
I don't think they should waste comic print of him attending church, but I believe it a safe assumption given all his lore that he aligns himself with Christian beliefs. That is why I mentioned the book in my last post.
Posted on April 25, 2007 2:24am
Superman is Methodist.
and see this: http://adherents.com/lit/comics/Superman.html
Posted on April 25, 2007 2:50am
BOOM! No need to debate this any further. That article [on Adherents.com] is pretty solid.
Posted on April 25, 2007 3:19am
Whenever this topic comes up, I hold firm to one thing only: I believe that the Golden Age Superman was Jewish. Both of his creators were Jewish and he just always struck me as a Jewish person. I probably will never be able to prove this, but that is my opinion.
As for every other Superman... if I had to guess, I'd say a division of Christianity, or perhaps some sort of personal philosophy.
Posted on April 25, 2007 4:59am
But they set him in small town Kansas so I doubt that (him being Jewish). I'll point out though various comic ages handled it differently because in the Silver Age he'd mention Rao a bit. Usually saying, "Great Rao, " I believe. That's why I mentioned it before.
Posted on April 25, 2007 5:31pm
Personally, I always just assumed that the only reason he took Rao's name was so that they didn't have to explain why Superman was saying things like "Oh my God."
Got to be careful of the delicate little kiddies.
Posted on April 25, 2007 5:33pm
SUPERMAN IS RELIGION! ... BOOM! ... It's his cross to bare.
Posted on April 26, 2007 7:20pm
Actually, I've always believed that there has to be a Church of Superman somewhere in the DCU. It just makes so much sense to view him as a divine figure, I refuse to accept that no one has thought of it already and attracted a following.
Posted on April 28, 2007 5:16pm
re: But they set him in small town Kansas so I doubt that (him being Jewish).
1. There are some Jewish people in Kansas.
2. Smallville wasn't added to the mythos until 1949.
3. Smallville was originally introduced as a small town "somewhere" in the US.
4. 1977, Smallville was said to be in Maryland. It was the Christopher Reeve movies that cemented it in Kansas.
So really, considering that I am referring specifically to the Golden Age Superman, I don't see how Smallville factors into the equation.
Posted on April 29, 2007 5:54pm
I'll admit I don't know the answer but suspect it's in the negative. Are there any Jewish people that have the last name Kent? Or the last name as Clark if that's his human mother's last name? Which might be canon much later than the thirties or forties. My point is if that's improbable then his parents weren't Jewish. By the way I don't have a problem even if they were. I just find it to be unlikely that's all. Not to mention how would they circumcise him? Or explain why he hasn't been?
Posted on April 29, 2007 7:56pm
Can't Clark and his parents just believe in God normally, without being devout followers of some religion?
Posted on April 29, 2007 9:56pm
For my money, in the final analysis, it doesn't really matter. He can be religious or not, it won't affect his relationship to the rest of humanity.
Posted on April 30, 2007 3:43am
I think Clark is probably some sort of Protestant, maybe Congregationalist. Kanas has always been a mid-Western values kinda place so he would of been brought up with strong beliefs.
But to me it really doesn't matter. I don't think he's an atheist, but I don't think he's devout. I don't think he believes in Kryptonian gods either. I think he's just Superman. And that's all that matters to me.
Posted on April 30, 2007 2:48pm
I think it's unfair to specify what religion Superman has because it just 'counts him out' for certain minorities and just makes him pointlessly unrelateable to certain groups of people.
I'd like to think he's Catholic but that's just because I'm Catholic and it's something I'd like to relate to Superman on. I would also like to believe that Superman isn't a hardcore Bible-basher, but respects his religion nonetheless and goes to church every week and says his prayers, etc. But that's just because that's what I do and I'd like to relate to Superman in that way.
Posted on May 1, 2007 1:46am
re: Are there any Jewish people that have the last name Kent?
Yes, there are Jewish people named Kent. As a matter of fact, the Chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors is named Roman Kent.
re: Not to mention how would they circumcise him? Or explain why he hasn't been?
Circumcision can be abrogated in the case of threat to the life or health of a child. The only way I can think of to circumcise baby Clark would be Kryptonite (not that his parents knew of such a thing) and that would certainly put his life in danger.
Also, for those of you who like to make a Jesus analogy, keep in mind that Jesus was Jewish; and Superman's parents' original names were John and Mary.
Posted on May 1, 2007 10:34am
I believe Jesus' father was Joseph, but it's close I guess. Though I thought they were thinking of Moses and other things when they were thinking of him. Also at first the Superman they wrote was evil and bald.
Posted on May 1, 2007 11:05am
re: Not to mention how would they circumcise him? Or explain why he hasn't been?
In addition to the points that Bukino made, there are two more things to think about: a) he wasn't completely invulnerable when he first landed on Earth, and smiley for all we know, Kryptonians could have evolved without that part of the anatomy. After all, it is a health risk.
Posted on May 1, 2007 11:34am
It's a health risk in an advanced civilization thousands of years ahead of ours? The invulnerability varies on which version is being discussed. I know the original version he could survive the hit of a shell. But I think that was always the case because it was a physical property of his not because he got powers from the sun gradually. I'll point out the original film where he could lift the ute as a three year old when he landed. But I'm not that knowledgeable about the history also I don't think they detailed his early years too much in the beginning. I could be wrong.
Posted on May 1, 2007 11:39am
I'm saying that since their civilization is so advanced, they probably found a way to remove it from the genome ages ago.
Or he was just already circumcised on Krypton. It's usually done a day or two after the baby is born, and Clark was at least that old before they put him in the rocket.
Posted on May 1, 2007 1:48pm
Superman was based partly on Moses.
Posted on May 1, 2007 3:13pm
I CAN NOT BELIEVE WE ARE NOW ARGUING ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT SUPERMAN IS CIRCUMSIZED!!!! SERIOUSLY?
Posted on May 5, 2007 1:41pm
Hmmm interesting question. I'll try to avoid the usual personal bias that afflicts this stuff (feverish anti-Christian, or feverish "everything is Christian").
First off, Supes is an archetypical comic book character. He was never intended to be anything more than entertainment. When he was created, it was for the purpose of adventure and fantasy - which may contain mythic or religious elements, but are really totally different. Of course, over the years comics have evolved to show more real events and deeper character development. But overall Supes is consistent. He was found in the Midwest. And has a Kryptonian heritage. If he were real I'd have a hard time thinking the innately good and simple farm folks (the Kents) raised him to be a Secular Humanist. The Kents' sense of right and wrong would clearly be church-based, just as if his ship fell in Afghanistan he would go to mosque. Farm communities in the midwest have church as a social staple. However, as Supes found out his alien heritage, his bigger place in the earth, and became more of a universal guardian, I doubt he spent as much time at Sunday School. So my long-winded answer is he was raised traditional Christian, and simply tries to do the right thing. Comics focus on him beating Zod or stopping a tornado. With the exception of comics like Constantine, religious elements usually don't enter into it.
Posted on May 6, 2007 2:00pm
Hear, hear. You don't need to be religious to be moral, and as such who cares whether or not the big guy's got a practicing faith?
[Alternatively, it may be argued that because morality is a subset of religion, it must follow that you do need to be religious in order to be moral, regardless of whether one's religion is Christian or Jewish or atheist or Muslim or whatever.]
Posted on May 7, 2007 10:54pm
...for the record, I know that Jesus' father's name was Joseph. I was just pointing out the similarity for those who like to make the Jesus analogy. Even though I am Christian, I make no effort to draw such a comparison (but I do see where someone would get such an idea and I do respect their views).
Posted on May 11, 2007 11:18am
You can't say just because he is from the Bible Belt that means he probably does. I'm from the Bible Belt and grew up going to church everyday, and I don't believe in God. But I don't know he you can tell if he does or not, in the original movies he probably did. But you have to remember that when those movies were made you didn't hear of many people saying they didn't believe. But now you hear it all the time with more and more science discoveries about religion being false. So it would be easy to say that today's Superman may not believe.
Posted on May 18, 2007 12:21am
I can respect someone who does not believe in God; and even though I think that there probably is a God, I am not a religious person. That being said, your above statement is absolutely ludicrous. You cannot disprove a religion with science if people believe in something beyond a physical truth. For example, some Christians believe in the transfiguration of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. The bread and wine never physically stop being bread and wine when sanctified, but spiritually they attain a greater significance for people of a particular faith. Besides, depending on how you perceive the concept of God (and as I'm sure you are aware, there are some drastically different interpretations), He might be able to bend reality, undo any discoveries, make 2 + 2 = 5 and destroy every bit of the world's known science in an instant.
Personally, I do not see religion and science as opposites, but rather as different ways of viewing the world. Just because modern society tends to judge things from a more neutral scientific standpoint does not mean that religion must therefore be obsolete for everyone.
Posted on May 22, 2007 6:42pm
Beautifully put. Love it!
No one 'world-view' is any more valid than another - whether you subscribe to science or religion. One of the things I love most about the whole Superman thing, is the respect and tolerance that the character levies to everyone, whatever their background.
Science cannot yet answer all questions, and faith alone will not progress civilization...
Tolerance and understanding - if everyone had these qualities, war and killing would be history.
Posted on May 22, 2007 8:08pm
Funny story: A friend of mine is a stone-cold atheist, another is an agnostic. The agnostic once said that as he learned more about physics he started to doubt the existence of God more because Physics explains so much, and the ATHEIST was the one who immediately went into a rant about how science negating religion is a ludicrous concept.
Posted on May 31, 2007 6:31pm
Wow, this is the first post I've followed for four pages. I started out just wanting to read a little bit about it but then the discussion just got so interesting!
Now I, being Christian, have always viewed Superman to have Christian practices. Like that Catholic chap before. Because I'm that way I like to see my hero that way; but this only goes to prove that Superman can be relatable to anyone.
Posted on June 1, 2007 8:13pm
You're debating the exact thing that Uncle Sam said it's not worth debating. Science isn't a religion, and that's a growing misconception among both theists and atheists. It's exactly why it doesn't stand opposite to religion...
And a little bit in-topic, judging from the latter issues of Superman, he probably accepts the existence of deities (since they DO exist in the DCU), but it's fairly obvious that he doesn't practice a religion.
Posted on June 2, 2007 4:09am
...Yeah, I like to see Superman as pretty neutral, not claiming or opposing any religion. He's a moral character, a good person (WITH POWERS) and he's awesome that way. Make's things fun for everyone.
Posted on June 2, 2007 9:06pm
...Anyway, back to Superman. I really don't want to know his religion, but I sincerely doubt he's an atheist. I doubt any of the superheroes are in the DCU. If there's no God, then how, pray tell, does one explain the Spectre?
Posted on June 2, 2007 9:27pm
Wasn't this brought up in Infinite Crisis or some tie-in? I recall there was some genius superhero who did not believe in God, and another tells him "and I thought you were a smart man." I'm not saying I agree with that statement (because I don't think religion has anything to do with one's intelligence; it is a matter of faith) but I could have sworn that I read that somewhere.
Posted on June 2, 2007 9:38pm
I haven't read Infinite Crisis, but I'd figure with the sheer amount of proof that the afterlife exists, you'd be hard pressed to find a superhero who doesn't believe in some form of higher power, albeit not necessarily the Christian God or Allah or Vishnu or whatever. There comes a point when you have to concede that, in some ways, this world isn't ours, and atheism doesn't make sense anymore.
It's like the ludicrous assertion over at Marvel that the average citizen of the MU doesn't believe in aliens. Sorry, there have been too many invasions (plus that time the earth was used for a penal colony and a spore almost ate the planet) for the average person to think aliens are mere tabloid fodder.
Posted on June 7, 2007 9:32am
I think this is overall a moot point, unless an absolute truth is written into Superman continuity. Nonetheless, I find it interesting. The way Superman "religiously" seems to me is Buddhist. He has absolute compassion for all living beings, calmness of mind, non-attachment to ego, and he's ultimately peaceful - and he (or Clark) has been shown to be a vegetarian.
Remember though, it has been suggested in other stories that the entire life of Kal-El (perhaps up until his landing on Earth) was the work of Rao. This may indicate a religion of Krypton, though extinct, that Kal-El may practice.
Posted on June 7, 2007 7:20pm
...Can you imagine the implications of a story where, let's say, Superman is revealed to be a follower of Christ?
Posted on June 7, 2007 8:15pm
Well, different incarnations of Superman seem to have different values and sets of beliefs. To a large extent it depends on the writer.
I have already explained that in my mind the Golden Age Superman was Jewish, and he certainly had an entirely different code of ethics than his modern counterpart (not necessarily due to his religion). So really, there's nothing more I can add here.
For example, I recall that in the Silver Age, at times Superman seemed to be a true follower of the Kryptonian sun god Rao. At other times, however, he was implied, mostly through imagery and circumstance, to be Christian (e.g. reading from the Bible).
The current Superman seems to take a more agnostic approach. I can't say I'm terribly pleased with the way he handled himself in the "Crisis of Faith" storyline, but I can't complain too much since only one line in the whole arc made me cringe and it was a good story for the most part. Besides, as someone who rather enjoys the occasional Christ/God reference that is thrown in once every few issues, I don't have much of a right to complain when Superman spouts one line I don't care for.
Truthfully, I'm rather content with things as they are. Superman is often portrayed in relation to Christian elements, but people of other faiths (or as of recently even atheists) can have some claim to Superman's values and therefore don't have to feel left out. This makes sense to me because I view Superman as a symbol for the American Way; and the United States, although predominantly Christian, has many smaller (population-wise) elements of faith to it. So while I enjoy the Christ references from time to time, I would not want Superman's religion to actually be revealed. Besides, the logical next step would be to determine what denomination of Christianity Superman belongs to, and THAT could get ugly.
Posted on June 7, 2007 9:21pm
...Since he was born in Kansas but aware of vast alien life, I doubt Superman believes in the Biblical God. Then again, he probably does have ideas about a great cosmic power.
Actually this discussion is moot because there's a Hell in DC, so there's probably a Heaven too.
I think we're extremely lucky to be on this spinning paradise which continues to flourish while everything else for light years is reduced to lifeless rock, and like with Superman, there's a responsibility that comes with that privilege. So that's the perspective I see Superman taking. There's unlimited reasons to appreciate the freedom we have to live without having to kill or be killed, and protecting that sort of environment is the most important thing you can do. And that's Superman.
Posted on June 9, 2007 4:44pm
...I would say Superman is agnostic. Doesn't know either way and hasn't been convinced by probability either way. Leaving open all possibilities.
Posted on June 9, 2007 7:35pm
re: I would say Superman is agnostic.
That's what I think too. Although he was raised with Christians values, I don't think he showed in any way that he believes their interpretation of God is the only one true.
And I prefer a Superman who do not claim to know better about God then other people do...
Like politics, Superman seems to be uneasy to take position when it comes to any religions, and that's the way I think it should be.
Posted on June 27, 2007 6:36pm
I don't know if this has been brought up yet, but I think I found a comic where Superman at least implies he believes in some kind of God.
Hitman #34 Page 10 Panel 4. "Then God (capital G implies specific god) decided time was up."
There are other references to God in the comic also.
From: Paul, "Superman, Wish Fulfillment, and Eschatological hope", posted 9 May 2007 on the Holy Heroes!! Religion in Comics blog website (http://holyheroes.blogspot.com/2007/04/superman-wish-fulfilment-and.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
Superman's roots are undeniably Jewish.
The co-creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are both ethnically Jewish, although according to Gerard Jones' excellent history of the origin of superhero comics, The Men of Tomorrow [link to: http://www.amazon.com/Men-Tomorrow-Geeks-Gangsters-Birth/dp/0465036562], neither were religious. Likewise, Harry Donnefield, the founder and first president of DC. Even Donnefield's sometime accountant sometime vice-president Jack Liebowitz was Jewish. All of these people were secular Jews and Siegel and Shuster disavowed or downplayed any influence of religious Judaism on their works.
Siegel and Shuster's first Superman was in a short story written by Siegel and illustrated by Shuster. This story, titled The Reign of the Superman features a scientifically enhanced Nietzschian superman who wreaks havoc before being finally overcome. In 1933, as Hitler ascended to power in Germany, calling himself the Nietzschian superman, Siegel and Shuster re-imagined Superman as a hero.
It may be a coincidence that the two Jewish young men's creation of a heroic superman coincided with Hitler's rise, or it may not. Regardless, Shuster and Siegel's creation eventually sold, and in popular consciousness the Superman was forever linked with protecting the weak, instead of with the use of power to dominate and destroy the weak.
Superman is the ultimate immigrant: he comes from some other place, and lands in America. He masquerades as one of them, but at his core he isn't. As Clark Kent he seems meek and weak and easily pushed around, but behind his secret identity he is a powerful warrior for good. He's not an American, but he fights for the American Way.
Even deeper than the political symbolism is the religious symbolism of Superman. Superman is rooted firmly in the Talmudic injunction to do good for its own sake. He is, in short, a very Jewish superman, and his strength comes with a moral compass.
Kal-El's arrival in a basket is strongly reminiscent of Moses' appearance in a basket in Exodus. The Exodus is the central story of the Torah, and its most significant instance of salvation. As such, Moses is the most important saviour in the story of Israel. Superman is a Moses figure in more than his appearance as a baby in a basket, but also in that he is a saviour, whether that means in his very person symbolically saving Krypton from complete extinction, or saving an man from being wrongfully executed for a crime he didn't commit, as he did in his very first appearance. For much of his history, and especially in his original incarnation, Superman spent more of his time protecting the innocent than fighting super-villains.
Yet since Moses is a prophetic precursor of the Messiah, Superman is also a Messiah figure. He is a Messiah figure even before he is a Christ figure. This distinction requires some clarification.
Though as most Christians and Jews already know, "Christ" (Greek) and "Messiah" (Hebrew) both mean "Anointed One", the terms are, especially for Jews, not synonymous. I use "Christ" to refer to Jesus of Nazareth, but "Messiah" to refer to the promised savour of the Jews. As a Christian myself, I believe that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, but a distinction is still helpful.
But Superman is a Messiah figure even before he is a Christ figure. He represents the Jewish eschatological hope of salvation, the hope of God's intervention, the hope that things will not always be as they are now. Superman symbolizes the Jewish conviction that the world can be better than this.
Superman is often accused of being adolescent wish-fulfillment in action: a super-strong hyper-masculine muscleman created by two geeks, a bullet-proof man created by Jerry Siegel, whose father was shot dead by a petty thief. He is all of this. But even more than this, Superman, despite Siegel and Shuster's supposed secularism, is a Jewish messiah figure--a personification of the hope of Judaism. He is a protector of the weak and champion of good in a world with too much evil.
From: Keiichi, "Religion, politics and super heroes", posted 13 May 2007 on the Minitokyo blog website (http://forum.minitokyo.net/thread/56752/religion-politics-super-heroes/1/#p1215679; viewed 28 May 2007):
Now with the Spidey hype, I was looking for info about our friendly neighbor and I found an article about the superheroes' religions here: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Spider-Man.html
...As for Tony Stark, I think that his church is Wall Street, his god is The Money and he is probably Republican. But surprise, surprise, Captain America maybe is Democrat... and Protestant. Superman... Methodist and probably Republican too.
From: "Where are all the Christian super heroes?" forum discussion, started 14 May 2007 on the Uber Christians website (http://uberchristians.org/vb/archive/index.php/t-673.html; viewed 2 August 2007):
05-14-2007, 05:32 PM
...Where are all the Christian super heroes? ...
05-15-2007, 01:25 AM
I was thinking of Nightcrawler... Rahne Sinclair (Wolfsbane) was raised Calvinist... The Guthries (Sam, etc.) are Baptists. Clark Kent is a Methodist...
From: "How many Atheist superheroes/heroines are there?" forum discussion, started 20 May 2007 on the Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/showthread.php?t=113333&page=2; viewed 24 May 2007):
05-20-2007, 04:47 PM
Haven't there also been multiple stories that demonstrate that superheroes are often called "gods" when they aren't? That the word is thrown around a lot by people and should therefore not be trusted?
For example, there was a recent issue of Superman where a woman prayed to "God" to help her, and Superman showed up and helped her. She then began calling him the hand of God and believed he was some type of spiritual entity.
From: "superspaceman/wolf (dog)", posted 22 May 2007 on the All Spaced Out blog website (http://antitype.livejournal.com/474817.html; viewed 28 June 2007):
May. 22nd, 2007 | 12:23 am
lostcosmonaut writes a post on dogs and personality [link to: http://lostcosmonaut.livejournal.com/153295.html]
It's great, read it before you read my c/p'ed quasi-post here.
I comment with a response:
Clark stopped attending church services when his super-hearing, X-ray vision and other super senses began developing. As Clark later told his wife, Lois Lane, he stopped attending services because he "knew too much about their lives -- their problems -- their lies... [he] was afraid" that he might lose his faith in people. So he decided to distance himself from such close-contact, frequent congregational worship and put his faith in "the best that humanity has to offer" (Action Comics #849, July 2007).
And then there are the arguments that Superman is gay (w/ Clark Kent being his closeted alter ego), Superman is Christlike, etc.
Though taken out of context, I've always enjoyed this frame:
As you know, I'm quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book. Not particularly well-drawn. But the mythology... The mythology is not only great, it's unique. Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears -- the glasses, the business suit -- that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's weak... he's unsure of himself... he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.
-- Bill, Kill Bill
I guess I think Superman kind of was in deep (inner) space (inside of Clark Kent), loving everyone and everything with a fierce calm. Being human -- being a dog, being Clark Kent -- is what made him weak and vulnerable; it's what made him need other people (Lois Lane and such), and what taught him how to be human. This, of course, is why Clark Kent had more personality than Superman. Weirdly enough, that's not who he really was. Superman was the lone wolf inside.
I dunno, man, I guess I'm saying what [mZA is] saying [in my own way, hopefully].
Though really, these days I feel more like Superman [w/ an imagination] flying around in space. It's hard to be a dog.
date: May. 22nd, 2007 08:06 am (UTC)
Something a lot of people overlook when thinking of Superman is that Superman didn't grow up Superman - he grew up Clark Kent. Clark is not a facade he invented, though he does intentionally tone it down, but an entire character he's been since birth.
Superman didn't grow up an impersonal god-powered being like The Enigma, he grew up human and for a good portion non-powered. (At least in accepted canon.)
Clark Kent isn't the alter-ego of Superman - it's a lot more complicated than that. Superman is Clark Kent with powers.
date: May. 22nd, 2007 03:38 pm (UTC)
That's true. I suppose the Kill Bill quote makes more sense when you think about Clark Kent/Superman in his adult life. To bridge the gap, he grew up Clark and Superman was the realization of his inner self? Clark Kent, even from youth, was, as I said, Superman learning how to be human. Maybe Kryptonians weren't so different from humans --- more human than human, even, being so much more evolved physically, mentally, even spiritually? For the sake of what I'm sort of getting at here, though, thinking of Superman as Kal-El, Hebrew for "vessel of God", roughly, it might not be so difficult to imagine Superman as some impartially loving messianic being from a distant planet. But because he was Clark Kent, too, he was not impartial, and he loved the people he knew.
Anyway, the Superman mythology is vast and what counts for canon is apparently up for debate, but I'm really just trying to add something to what lostcosmonaut had already said about people and personality, the dog/wolf thing, etc.
date: May. 22nd, 2007 08:22 pm (UTC)
Kryptonians were actually spiritually dead. Their entire culture was supposedly scientific and rational - though this has been subjected to a few diversions whenever being written by someone who needed a spiritual bent to their story.
On that note, I'm not really sure you headed in the same direction lostcosmonauts' remarks about Superman sent me.
date: May. 22nd, 2007 08:45 pm (UTC)
I just took the comments as rather flippant, I mean Superman is not really that analogous to Jesus. Jesus was human, for a start, and comes with a message that anybody can live up to him. You can't live up to Superman, he's the way he is because he's not human. I would say he triggers the same mythological centers as demi-humans, Herakles and all that jazz, do in classical myth. You could almost mistake them for a gifted person, but they're not, they're something more than human because the perception of humans as weak and helpless is our critique of ourselves.
We need greater-than-human beings to do good works for us because we don't feel capable of them ourselves. Worse, we don't even think they're possible by mere mortals.
From: "TV Tropes Wiki", 1 June 2007 on the No Hugging No Kissing Discussion website (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NoHuggingNoKissingDiscussion; viewed 30 May 2007):
Red Shoe: The authors of the "Completely Useless Encyclopedia" suggest that the distaste many fans have for the notion of smooching in Doctor Who is based in a fear that if the Doctor ever has sex, they won't be able to relate to him any more, since it's something none of them will ever do. Though it's obviously meant as a joke...
Seven Seals: For the same reason, Superman no longer overtly stands for "the American way", and the question of whether Superman is religious (never mind who he votes for) can never be addressed without alienating a lot of fans, no matter how you answer it. Fans need to be able to identify with a certain kind of hero; Superman and the Doctor are of that kind. It's probably a sign of immaturity if fans need to identify so closely that the character must or must not have certain traits they themselves have or lack, but writers do well to cater to it anyway.
Heart Burn Kid: I thought the question of Superman's religion has already been answered; doesn't he follow some weird Kryptonian religion? Or was that just before Crisis?
Ununnilium: Pre Crisis, yeah. Back then he was a few years old before being shot to Earth; now, he was barely even born, so didn't have time to pick up the culture. A fictional religion is probably the only one you could give him, for the reasons above.
Seven Seals: Pre Crisis Superman would shout "Great Rao!" every so often. Some background on Rao has been established over the years, but not much, and you'd be hard-pressed to find even one fan who can tell you anything about it. Even so, this doesn't really touch the issue of whether Superman's religious, no more than Marvel's Thor being a god has much to do with religion.
But I digress... Let's just leave it at the observation that the writers wouldn't come out and mention that Clark Kent votes Republican; it would destroy the ability of a lot of fans to identify with him, and being an icon, the character needs that. The Doctor's very much an iconic hero too.
Seven Seals (much later): Still off-topic, but apparently, Superman's a Methodist. But all the other angles are explored too, in this exhaustive page: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Superman.html Worth reading if you're into this sort of navel-gazing.
Ununnilium: I think the most interesting part of that is that Elliot S! Maggin thinks that Lex Luthor is Jewish.
[Actual date this page was posted is uncertain.]
From: "Is Superman a Christian?" forum discussion, started 23 June 2007 on the Baptist Board website (http://www.baptistboard.com/archive/index.php/t-30850.html; viewed 13 August 2007):
06-23-2006, 09:47 PM
I found this article looking at the faith of Superheroes and figured that it may well be good for a discussion!
June 19, 2006 issue - Is the Man of Steel a man of faith? The upcoming "Superman" movie has sent fans picking over primary sources...
[Complete article is quoted here. The Newsweek article quotes scholars that compare Superman to Jesus, as well as scholars that identify Superman as Methodist, and some that say there are Jewish themes in the character's stories.]
- Steven Waldman and Michael Kress
06-23-2006, 09:52 PM
Superman is a work of fiction. Who cares what religion he is?
06-23-2006, 10:05 PM
Jesus has no Kryptonite problem.
Friend of God
06-24-2006, 10:39 AM
I always thought Superman was Baptist.
Don't all Baptists stand for Truth, Justice, and the American way?
06-24-2006, 10:55 AM
re: "Superman is a work of fiction. Who cares what religion he is?"
In one sense, you are right. But Ben's article was interesting. Even cartoonists have a world view implicit or explicit in their work. Interesting analyzing it a little bit.
06-24-2006, 11:25 AM
Yes, a silly discussion, but I recall in the comic books, Superman often invoked the name of a Kryptonian deity named Rao. I don't think the religion was ever expounded upon. Also, Krypton was said to have been ruled by a "Science Council", one of the members being Kal-El's (Superman's) father, Jor-El. This would lead one to believe that perhaps Krypton's population was more naturalist. Of course, Joe Siegel and Jerome Shuster who created Superman, were two Jewish kids.
06-24-2006, 02:23 PM
I think that particular plot point [about Kryptonian religion] was experimented with for a few years, but abandoned sometime in the early 1980s. The conventional assumption is that Clark Kent was raised by Midwestern Protestants, and that is where he got his morality from. (Remember the scene in the 1978 movie when Ma and Pa Kent discover the baby Kal-El in the field? Look at the way they are dressed - they're on their way home from church. And Martha Kent thanks "the good Lord" for bringing them a child.)
On occasion Superman has sought spiritual advice from clergy of other traditions, however. I suspect that the ambiguity about what his religion actually is (assuming he has one) is partly due to the variety of writers who have penned storylines for the comic. (That would not be unique to Superman, of course.)...
re: "Science Council"
Or the Kryptonian technocracy could simply be a variation on Plato's government by "philosopher kings" - the idea that rulers should be the ones who are wisest. Mind you, a lot of scientists are rather naive. Then again, so are a lot of professional philosophers . . .
re: "Of course, Joe Siegel and Jerome Shuster who created Superman, were two Jewish kids."
I have read some articles that suggest that Superman is an allegory for how Jewish people feel about living in a Western Christian society. The gist of the argument is that just as Superman, an alien, is assimilated into midwestern Christian society, American Jews are being assimilated into a foreign way of life. I don't know whether there's anything to that, or if it's just more post hoc, postmodern noodling.
By the way, there's nothing "silly" about this line of discussion. Look at the amount of verbiage that has been spent talking about Harry Potter. Why is the religion of the fictional Superman a less worthy topic than the morality of a fictional teenage wizard?
06-24-2006, 07:23 PM
I think the 1978 film really played up the Christ/Kal-El parallels. "They can be a great people, they wish to be. They only lack the light to show the way. For this reason, above all, their capacity for good, I have sent them you, my only son."
I also found this link on the subject of Superman's religion:
From: "It's like this webpage was written just for Austin316.", posted 24 June 2007 on the Final_Flanner on "Back Room Almanac" blog website (http://184.108.40.206/~elkabong/boards/showpost.php?b=backroom;pid=583084;d=all; viewed 10 July 2007):
Comic book characters grouped by religion.
Who knew Superman was Methodist?
Looks like the Lutherans need to do a better job of recruiting.
* Click here for link [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]
From: "Is Superman a Christian?", posted 27 June 2007 on the TC the Terrible blog website (http://tctheterrible.com/blog/2007/06/27/is-superman-a-christian/; viewed 28 June 2007):
Is Superman a Christian?
Indeed he is, if you consider a Methodist a Christian at least.
While looking for pictures of gypsy religious ceremonies (long story - don't ask) I came across this page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html]. This is a classic case of a nerd with too much time on his hands. It turns out by the way that there are a number of gypsy superheroes.
This posting was originally viewable at: http://www.bradmeltzer.com/labels/Comics.html
From: Brad Meltzer, "Jewish Superhero Website Listing", posted 28 June 2007 on the Brad Meltzer's official MySpace page blog website (http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=70196334&blogID=281610033; viewed 9 June 2007):
Thanks to Jack G. for this. And I so admire The Acidic Jew [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/AcidicJew.html].
Jewish superhero website listing:
[Below are excerpts from reader comments posted in response to this post:]
Posted by Transit of the Earth, as seen by Mars. on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 4:16 PM
I love that site. It's informative, and also, in some cases, funny...
I also want to add: I personally prefer Superman being more of a Midwestern, farm-raised Christian. [I prefer this to the portrayal of him] knowing his Kryptonian religion well enough to spout the mythology from it. I like the idea that Jor-El and Lara are his biological parents, while the Kents raised him into the person he became, but that's just me.
Chris Dailey wrote to us (9 July 2007) with the following analysis suggesting how Superman's birth name indicates the character's religious affiliation:
From email we received from Chris Dailey on 9 July 2007:
The obvious answer is in his name: EL refers to early Hebraic cult religious beliefs. The TV series Smallville constantly mentions the "House of EL". His father's name is JOR-EL: another early Hebraic name for God was YAH (and sometimes the Y could be replaced by a J). The originators of the story line, either consciously or sub-consciously, took a Jewish view of the Christian Messianic message in the New Testament. To save Kryptonian culture, to bring it to those who did not know of it, the Father sends the Son to Earth in Power to save the Earth. He arrives alone, cast "away" in a spaceship just like Moses was cast away in a boat to save him (a comparison of Jesus to Moses was common with the early church and the comparison is made in the New Testament Gospels). Like Moses, he is found by strangers who take him in and raise him as their own son. Then, upon reaching an acceptable adult age, he goes out to save the world from crime, etc. Just a few years ago, the writers had him killed by a powerful enemy (later revealed as also being Kryptonian, but of a mindless, evil, angry type) and then brought back to life (with help from the spirit of his earthly father).
Man, many coincidences.
I think he is portrayed as a monotheist with Judeo-Christian background and messianic tendencies.
-C H Dailey
From: "Superhero Religious Views?" forum discussion, started 13 July 2007 on the Newsarama website (http://forum.newsarama.com/archive/index.php/t-116001.html; viewed 9 June 2007):
06-09-2007, 10:51 PM
I've read mostly about Superman and Batman, and from what I have gathered, Superman is more of an agnostic than anything. He stopped going to church in his teens, but in the last few Action Comics [issue #s 848-849] it's revealed that he does respect religion.
Batman, I feel is a complete atheist.
06-09-2007, 10:54 PM
I would assume most [superheroes] would believe in some higher being, seeing as how they are exposed to magic pretty frequently.
06-09-2007, 10:57 PM
IMO [In my opinion] Superman simply cannot be Christian, as Christianity has man above all other beings, and Superman isn't a man. He's an alien. Therefore he isn't equal to mankind; he's a lesser being under the Christian view. Any waffling on that point, IMO [in my opinion], is simply dishonest.
06-10-2007, 01:13 AM
re: "Superman simply cannot be Christian as Christianity has man above all other beings, and Superman isn't a man. He's an alien..."
I don't think you quite understand Christianity.
Aliens are quite compatible with Christianity. In fact, I once read a Vatican scientist (yes the Vatican does have a scientific research department) discuss the possibility of Jesus appearing to alien civilizations and whether or not the concept of sin would even apply to aliens.
06-10-2007, 03:00 AM
re: "Man, and only man, are given souls in the Bible. Every other creature is simply an animal and therefore below man."
Your church takes the Jewish holy scriptures at face value? Wild. But hey - whatever floats your boat.
I tend to agree that Superman wouldn't be comfortable with your view of Christianity. But who knows what he might think of another view that incorporated Christ's teachings, but saw the Jewish scriptures as moral myths, similar to modern liberal Judaism.
06-10-2007, 01:19 AM
With the Spectre running around, Hal's interaction with it, Ollie's resurrection, and the existence of Zauriel, I'm sure a big chunk of the DCU's heroes (except for Mr. Terrific, of course) believe in some form of a deity along the lines of Christianity's god.
06-10-2007, 07:11 AM
re: "Superman simply cannot be Christian as Christianity has man above all other beings, and Superman isn't a man. He's an alien..."
There have been plenty of Christians that would disagree with your conclusion. In fact, C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy suggested that each planet and alien civilization had their own Christ. This was the incarnation of the same God the Father that Christians worship, just the God the Son takes a different form. Doug TenNapel borrowed this idea in CreatureTech.
Of course, he may have meant this allegorically, but what I know about Lewis leads me to believe he wouldn't be outright opposed to the idea of aliens. Skeptical at best.
In response to the Original Post: I think most of the analytical heroes consider any supernatural phenomenon a science that we don't understand yet. But for the most part, most characters don't have a definite, prescribed religion. I remember reading an old [Dennis] O'Neil Batman story where Batman was almost wistful towards Christianity, and others where he dismisses it outright. And Hal Jordan spent quite a bit of time working for God, but we haven't seen it addressed in his own book. Wasn't Nightwing an overt Christian for a while in his own book?
Personally, I love reading about religion and spirituality, so I would like to see it explored a bit more in comics. At the same time, unless the character's religion is central to that character's personality (like Firebird or Nightcrawler over at Marvel), then I don't have any problem with their beliefs shifting from story to story.
06-10-2007, 10:43 AM
Putting aside JohnLynch's objections, and the idea that a few decades of Bible Belt Creationism trumps two thousands years of theological discussion (fundamentalism [i.e., the American-born Fundamentalist movement, now known as the "Christian Evangelical" movement] is only about a century old). The fact is that this concept cannot mean the same for the characters of the DCU as they do for us. The gods of the DCU aren't a matter of faith. Superheroes interact -- and even team up -- with them as a part of their day-to-day actions. In such a universe, the rationalist argument that you can't believe in something that can't be proven must mean something else.
06-10-2007, 03:44 PM
Someone once asked Billy Graham how the souls of beings on other worlds could be saved if they didn't know about Christ. IIRC [If I recall correctly], he replied that if there was intelligent life on other planets, he was sure God had made arrangements for their salvation.
I doubt the authors of the Bible gave much thought one way or another to the question of the existence, let alone the salvation, of space aliens. As I understand it, other-worldly beings were seen as part of an Earth-centric cosmology that put Heaven at the outermost sphere and Hell at the innermost. IOW [In other words], the only place lower than Earth was Hell; so much for humankind's "exalted place" in the scheme of things. :)
06-10-2007, 04:32 PM
re: "Man, and only man, are given souls in the Bible. Every other creature is simply an animal and therefore below man. IMO the bible (and therefore Christianity) also teaches that the Earth was created in 6 days and anything else is also waffling."
So are you a fundamentalist or an atheist? Either way, you lack the ability to view shades of grey. God knew we couldn't understand the literal way the universe was created, so when people asked, he used a less complex metaphoric idea. Aliens didn't come into it because we weren't ready to know. Unless the being we know as God is separate from whatever unknown force started the big bang, in which case he himself is an alien and didn't want to reveal the truth about his existence anyway. It is overly simplistic to adhere to ancient words in every literal way. The core of the Bible is to treat people with respect and caring, same with all religions. Anything else is unimportant and added by man.
06-10-2007, 08:49 PM
re: "Man, and only man, are given souls in the Bible. Every other creature is simply an animal and therefore below man. IMO the bible (and therefore Christianity) also teaches that the Earth was created in 6 days and anything else is also waffling."
You're either an Evangelical, or you're getting your Christian info from one. Just because Evangelicals, and lately the media, refer to themselves as "Christians", that doesn't mean all Christians are as literal in their interpretations of the Bible as "Born Agains" are. Many Christians consider the Bible as allegorical and don't feel evolution and creationism as being mutually exclusive.
06-10-2007, 09:18 PM
I got the opinion he [JohnLynch] might be a former Evangelical, who still believes their views represent true Christianity, or that Evangelicals represent some form of straw man to him. I don't know. Perhaps he could clarify it himself.
06-10-2007, 04:39 PM
This conversation can only get uglier as time goes on, I've been on many boards on imdb [i.e., IMDB.com: Internet Movie Database] debating religion.
With both Superman and Batman, they tend to leave religion out of it, probably to avoid discussions like these. Sure, you can have [a lesser known super-hero such as] Daredevil as a Catholic, but Supes [Superman] and Bats [Batman] are very iconic characters and [part] of their appeal is that they can appeal to anyone...
Ollie may believe in something now, after being dead, but Hal never said they were in Heaven. "An aspect of it," yes. He could have been in Heaven but he also could have been in Elysian Fields (...the Greek myth of where good people go when they die).. It really doesn't matter.
06-10-2007, 08:25 PM
Superman still lives his life the way his adoptive parents taught him to, so I believe he's still whatever religion that is (being from the rural midwest, is probably some form of Christianity; whether he still goes to church is another thing)...
06-10-2007, 08:42 PM
Let's see this from the hero's point of view. Superman is always saying "Rao", so he might well be a worshipper of the Kryptonian gods. Supergirl and Power Girl were raised in a Kryptonian lifestyle, so they would certainly be worshippers of the Kryptonian gods. Wonder Woman would obviously worship the Greek gods, as would Donna, Wonder Girl and all the other Amazons. Ragman is Jewish. The Spectre is a Judeo/Christian sort. Etrigan is a demon, so he obviously a religious sort. Then there are the New Gods...
06-11-2007, 04:11 PM
re: "Superman is always saying "Rao", so he might well be a worshiper of the Kryptonian gods."
Lots of Jewish people use "Jesus Christ" as an exclamation.
06-11-2007, 05:08 PM
Does that mean Gomer Pyle worships Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, etc? ["Gomer Pyle" was a major supporting character on the TV sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, played by Jim Nabors. Nabors continued the character in his own starring vehicle, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.]
06-11-2007, 06:06 PM
Maybe Silver Age Superman, where he could speak and write in Kryptonian, worshipped the gods of Krypton. But modern Superman, or at least pre-IC [i.e., previous to the Infinite Crisis] Superman, didn't seem to have as much knowledge of his home world. He didn't even have a zoo featuring Krypton animals like he used to.
06-11-2007, 07:34 PM
He still has the zoo but he keeps quiet about it because otherwise he has PETA outside with signs saying "The multi-headed zargbeast of Floxa-6 should roam free!" [This writer is referring to the radical animal rights group, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.]
06-11-2007, 07:34 PM
He seems to still be able to speak and read Kryptonian, and to know something of Kryptonian history, enough to recognize Zod in any event. And yes, Gomer does worship all those guys... ;)
06-11-2007, 08:41 PM
Okay I'm wrong! It still seems weird to worship gods he wasn't raised to worship that he, and maybe Supergirl, are the only ones left alive that know who they are.
06-11-2007, 10:01 PM
In the Death of Superman when he was in the afterlife it took on a Kryptonian religious theme.
06-12-2007, 01:08 PM
Thinking about it, wouldn't the Kryptonians on Earth be sun worshipers? The sun is literally everything to them, the source of their power and life, and can even save their lives when they're badly hurt. Especially if the Neil Gaiman view about suns holds true for the mainstream DCU, (which it might, since it DOES get mention in a Gaiman story where the mainstream DCU is clearly involved, and both Rao and Sol appear as characters.
06-13-2007, 01:43 AM
...Superman is a Christian, but he isn't a churchgoer...
06-13-2007, 10:25 PM
I think it's impossible for anyone to win either side of the argument of agnostic vs. Christian vs. atheist vs. anything else because in this day and age DC and Marvel will not lean one way or another on their big guys.
It's sad, but the plain truth is that it wouldn't be good business sense on their part. As a Christian I'm happy with that. I would say Jonathan and Martha Kent are Christians so you would think Superman leans that way but . . . Also, I think most heroes are god-fearing because most of the funerals take place in a church setting and weddings have as well.
Again, we'll never know for sure but I think it's great they leave it open to personal interpretation.
We ALL need heroes! ;)
06-14-2007, 01:39 AM
I don't have a problem with Superman being a Liberal Christian, seeing the scriptures as powerful and moving metaphors. Raised in the Midwest, he'd most likely be raised a Methodist. Once he discovered his Kryptonian heritage he'd probably incorporate a bit of Krypotonian mythology, but only the parts that didn't conflict too much with his non-literalist Christian leanings...
From: "Your Spiritual Thought for the Day", posted 15 July 2007 on the Roman de Renart blog website (http://foxeddc.livejournal.com/467235.html; viewed 16 July 2007):
Jul. 16th, 2007 12:25 am
...Superman is a lapsed Methodist. I think it's specified [in published comics] that he stopped going to church when he was about 11 years old...
I can't think of any actively atheist superheroes, but any of them who have dealt with cosmic stuff couldn't be atheists for long. The DC Universe is very much a creationist universe.
From: "Question for other atheists" forum discussion, started 23 July 2007 on the Comic Boards website (http://www.comicboards.com/dcb/view.php?trd=060306051129; viewed 6 March 2006):
Posted by Corn Stone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 05:11:29 GMT
Question for other atheists. Are there any? :-)
How do you relate to the characters in comics, DC especially, who are characterised as atheistic/agnostic?
And a sort of put-yourself-in-the-shoes - Would you still be an atheist if you'd had the experiences Mr Terrific and co have had? (Not counting Green Arrow, Barry Allen and folk who have been to Heaven, if their experiences are to be believed. And they are - this is the DCU cosmology.)
I doubt very much I would call myself an atheist, if, say, I was a member of the JLA or JSA and had some of these experiences.
Posted by Einheri on Tuesday, March 07 2006 at 03:53:00 GMT
I hold out hope.
As for Mr Terrific, if he is an atheist - from what I've seen - he's very polite about it. Atheists who try to "evangelize" me to their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) tend to iritate me more than religious people trying to evangelize me to their faith. But not much more.
Let me work it out for myself. And I'll try not to bother you. But I make no promises. ;-)
There, that's about as preachy as I get, Corn. But, to better answer some of what you're driving at, I think it could be very easy to be an atheist in the presence of Superman. I daresay that the presence of entities like Darkseid, Spectre, Dr. Fate, Deadman, Wonder Woman, Clark Kent, and even "things" like Bat-Mite sort of make the supernatural common-place. If we have comic book logical explanations of these folk, it wouldn't be too hard to reason that there could be other, more powerful creatures, even a "supreme being." But I don't think someone like Mr. Terrific would call this entity "GOD." Well, maybe he might if he thought it could get IT to stop making him eat playground dirt.
Posted by JesusFan on Monday, March 06 2006 at 17:41:35 GMT
Well, I will try to divorce myself from answering if it was me, as I am a born again believer in Jesus Christ. But your point is well taken, as it appears that you are asking if any of us were in the DCU, and saw things from the DCU perspective on God, angels, aliens, mystics, etc... Could we actually in that particular frame of reference stay an atheist?
My take is that the DC DOES have God in the picture, the Presense, and that there ARE Angels/Devils on assignment, Micheal/Morningstar etc, so probably Mr. Terrific Knows that such DO really exist, but his mental grid simple will not allow him to experience it as his truth.
Just as Batman KNOWS Spectre is real, and could go to seek out his Father in heaven/Hell, his mental grids will not allow him to support that truth, as he is "rational/scientific" mindset.
While WW [Wonder Woman] also KNOWS that there must be the Presense/God in the DCU, her mindset refuses to acknowledge that ANY being could be greater than her "gods" that created/empowered her, so she is like Bats in that regard, it's just that he refuses to believe based upon "rational/scientific" framework of reality, while Diana refuses due to her "spiritual" understandings.
Superman of the big 3 probably comes closest to being what would be considered a "true" believer in existence of Presense/God/Angels etc, as he has been raised undoubtably by his parents in some way to foster that belief, but he walks the line between Bruce/Diana, as he appreciates Science, abhors/reluctant to try to understand Magic, so he does probably have faith that God is real, it's just that he would not probably get into the finer details of... Is there a real Jesus? is Heaven/Hell real? Do I need to find the will of God for my own life? etc...
Posted by Hellstone on Monday, March 06 2006 at 14:20:26 GMT
re: "As noted in other discussions over the years they seem to bend over backwards to NOT assign denominations or faith statements to characters..."
Well, I think that goes for the "big 3" [Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman], for example. But many denizens of the DCU have expressed their religion explicitly, and I'm not just talking Wonder Woman and Kobra and Zauriel here... many more, have all stated their explicit beliefs...
From: Elizabeth "I'm Pro-Accordion and I , "The Religious Affiliations of Super Heroes", posted 27 July 2007 on the Gather.com blog website (http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977041058; viewed 27 July 2007):
Okay, anyone could have guessed that Shamrock, a.k.a. Molly Fitzgerald, would have to be Catholic. But did you know that Superman is Methodist? The Shadow is a Buddhist? Who knew?
A website, www.comicbookreligion.com, attempts to catalogue our Superfriends by religion and ethnicity...
From: Kelly Fryer, "Share Your Faith Like A...Superhero?", posted 31 July 2007 on the Reclaiming The F Word [Faith] blog website (http://reclaimingthefword.typepad.com/reclaiming_the_f_word/2007/07/so-how-come-rel.html; viewed 12 August 2007):
So, how come religion is such a big deal in politics today?? Because it's a big deal everywhere. Even in comics... no longer the secret passion of nerds (I was a BIG comic fan as a kid)... not with Hollywood kicking out one superhero blockbuster after another. It used to be religion was taboo in the comics, regulated by a "Comics Code" that was still in effect as recently as 1989. But lately, the characters many of us have known and secretly wanted to be are, if you will, coming out of the closet about their faith commitments. Stan Lee, the godfather of comics [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html], says [it is] because back in the 1930's everybody was trying to assimilate into the American melting pot. Today people are interested in their roots. They're not afraid of being alienated because of their religious identity. Ever wonder what religion Superman is? Methodist. Batman? Lapsed Episcopalian. The Thing? Jewish. Want to find out about your favorite character? Click here [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html].
With so much interest in and openness to things spiritual, can the mainline religious community figure out how to connect?
THE REST OF THE STORY:
I spent the past few days with a group of mostly German Lutherans who talked about how shy they feel about sharing their faith. Maybe Superman can open this door for us?? The truth is, people really ARE interested in people who have religious commitments. Oh, they don't want us preaching at them or trying to convert them. But they ARE interested.
At the blogging conference I attended last weekend, the typical greeting went like this:
"So... what do you blog about?"
And, I've got to tell you, my answer had the potential of being a real conversation stopper.
"Religion," I'd say.
"Oh," they'd say suspiciously, sometimes actually backing away. "I'm not really religious."
"Me, neither!" I'd respond with the biggest smile I could manage, assuming that by "religious" they meant intrusive, closed-minded, and self-righteous.
And that was usually just enough to take the edge off. Assured that they weren't going to get the spiritual stuffings kicked out of them, they'd move back in and then we'd have a conversation.
I wonder if the secret to renewing the mainline and progressive Christian church in this country begins right here: Believing people might find what we have to say interesting...
Posted by: ckelly181 | August 01, 2007 at 11:25 AM:
Thanks for your inspirational entry. I posted a response to a fundamentalist in my local paper today, because I was inspired by your call to action. The fanatical right can't be the only voice out there - thanks for yours.
Bravo!! I think Superman would be smiling. By the way, of all the Superheroes listed at adherents.com, only THREE are Lutheran (my shy denomination). I never even heard of two of them: Reflex and Elastic-Lad. And the one I have heard of - The Little Mermaid - is listed as Lutheran/Atlantean (NOMINAL). I'm not even sure how she made the superhero list in the first place! Lutherans!!! Oh well. I'm glad you're using your superpowers to make a difference where you live! You inspire the rest of us.
From: "Religion in Comics" forum discussion, started 3 August 2007 on the official DC Comics website (http://dcboards.warnerbros.com/web/thread.jspa?threadID=2000125054&tstart=0; viewed 6 August 2007):
Aug 2, 2007 3:11 PM
I went on this site a few nights ago and it had a list of various superheroes, villains and various other characters from comics and each of their religion and/or religious views.
Aside from a few surprises about characters' religons, I was just so surprised how little religion is featured in comics. Aside from obvious characters portraying their religion (Huntress for example), there are very few religious points ever really made.
I, for one, would love to see religious debates between superheroes. Y'know, like Superman (being Methodist) arguing with, say, Mr. Terrific (an Atheist) over the importance of religion and God within their work. Or one of the New Gods destroying the very basis of a hero's religion.
Although a sensitive issue, I think it's still an extremely interesting subject matter that I think deserves more focus in the DCU [DC Universe].
Well, I've ranted enough. Now let's hear what everyone else out there thinks.
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:18 PM
I think the chances of such debates are pretty slim. I'm not saying that they wouldn't be interesting (they would), but you don't often see much religion or politics in comic books, unless it's some nutcase pseudo-religion (Superman as a Christ figure or Lobo in some fish religion).
And would religion really work as an issue? Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Batman was raised Catholic. Because of his current actions, does that mean that he has turned his back on the church, or does it mean that he has reconciled the two, at least in his own mind? There are a lot of pro-choice people out there claiming to be Catholic. Sometimes your religion doesn't always define your actions, much as it should.
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:25 PM
I don't think there is a problem with noting a character's religion and showing how it fits into their role to some degree, but to focus on religion in comics it would just make me drop comics altogether. I'm trying to keep it polite so I'll leave it at that.
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:27 PM
There is a reason why, at least in polite society, you do not bring up or discuss sex, politics and religion in mixed company. Mainstream mass entertainment generally shy away from overtly and explicitly dealing with those general topics because it tends to polarized or fracture their consumer bases. That's not good for business.
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:35 PM
Actualy, it reveals where those consumer bases have already been polarized and fractured. And it's only bad for business if your business model doesn't take controversy into consideration - which is likely if your attempting to either extend or utilize polarity; that is, the polarity itself is part and parcel to your business model. Like in an organized religion, or political party, for example. The media, on the other hand, should ALWAYS be ready for controversy, to be able to reliably describe (and even affect) the culture it's a part of.
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:39 PM
Oh, of course I mean, I agree that there shouldn't be anything that presses people's own views. And I definitely think that issues should never be included that people find uncomfortable.
But I think (in my own opinion, of course, and should not be considered an insult to people in any way) that comics are a more adult form of entertainment. I could easily be wrong, but when I pick up an issue of Teen Titans, say #41 (I think anyway), where Batgirl slits Bombshell's throat, next to Teen Titans GO!, a comic aimed more at children that has no blood or cursing or anything else, there''s a diference in the target audience.
I feel that if you have comic books with blood, cursing and moral values and arguments, e.g. Infinite Crisis, why can't you simply open up to more intelligent debates over religion?
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 3:52 PM
in real life, most people don't fight over religion unless you live in a place where you'd get killed for your religion. Personally, I'm an atheist although I was brought up Catholic. I'm still intrested in other people's religions and different beliefs or cultures, so I enjoy seeing superheroes' religions.
Apparently, Superman is either Methodist or some Krytonian religion. Batman was raised Catholic, but he doesn't practise. Spider-Man is Protestant, Wonder Woman believes in that ancient Greek Stuff. Deadman is obviously Hindu and the Thing is also obviously Jewish. I noticed in comics it seems as if all religions are correct.
Posted: Aug 2, 2007 6:49 PM
Simpsons, as a relatively kind-hearted example. Practically everyone pratices a religion in The Simpsons.
The show simultaneously respects the sincere spiritual beliefs and questions of its characters, and roundly criticizes poor thinking, superstitious self-delusion and institutional apathy in religious practice. Simpsons does more than anticipate controversy. The Simpsons pursues it.
Posted: Aug 3, 2007 5:09 PM
That's not my experience with what I would call "polite society." During the year 2004, for instance, with a Presidential Election looming on the horizon here in the USA, I noticed I was hard put to think of any social gatherings I attended in that year where the subject of politics didn't come up! I did not see this as a sign that the people I associated with were not polite. I only saw it as inevitable :)
However, I strongly agree with your point about the behavior patterns of people who are in the specific situation of trying to peddle mass entertainment to a broad audience that doesn't neatly fit into a single political school of thought or a single religious affiliation. If I worked at DC, editing the comic books, or at a Hollywood studio that made TV shows or movies based on DC's characters, then I would scream in horror at any suggestion that we have Superman absolutely commit himself to being a very devout Methodist. Because that would almost certainly offend, to greater or lesser degrees in different cases, zillions of potential customers who were not, themselves, Methodists.
And -- just to make it even more complicated -- some Methodists would, from that day forward, scream bloody murder if the Superman character, having been identified in the eyes of the general public as a Methodist, then did dumb things in subsequent stories which struck devout Methodist readers as being sinful behavior that no truly clean-living Methodist would ever do of his own free will.
Posted: Aug 3, 2007 6:25 PM
If Superman is Methodist, he and Ma and Pa Kent must be members of one of the more liberal branches of that denomination, methinks. In fact, I had just about concluded that the Kents must be Unitarians.
Suggested links for further research about this character and the character's religious affiliation: