*This post contains spoilers straight away
Let’s start at the end of the film. The camera pans out from a funeral scene and then zooms in to a coffin, supposedly containing Superman – the god of this world. Dead.
The scene pauses slightly and then turns black and the credits begin to roll. We are left in the dark wondering. Wondering, what kind of god dies? Has evil gone? Is this the end? And will he return?
Perhaps an echo of Nietzsche rings in our mind: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?”
The comfort of the world has gone and we feel utterly alone. There is silence in the cosmos.
We are now placed in the shoes of Lex Luther, a slightly crazed yet highly intelligent man who is like an anti-Job type. Job is a man in the bible who goes through extreme suffering, losing everything and everyone and although he questions God, filled with lament and mourning, he never curses God or sins against him.
Lex, our Anti-Job, also goes through suffering and he too throws up questions and accusations to the god of the sky. This was his conclusion:
“No man in the sky intervened when I was a boy to deliver me from Daddy’s fist and abominations. I figured out way back if God is all-powerful, He cannot be all good. And if He is all good, then He cannot be all-powerful. And neither can you be.” – Lex Luther
As we stare at the rolling credits, perhaps we can sympathise with Lex more than we realise. His anguish came from a heart that has looked up at the heavens and found it empty. No one came to save him in his time of trouble. This led to a seed of hate in his heart, which he allowed to grow.
In the film, when Lex meets the god of the sky, we can see this seed has grown to a hatred of superman and a desire to hurt him, but not at a cosmic level (although it does lead to that), but on a much more human level. He wants Superman to fight Batman.
“The greatest gladiator match in the history of the world: God versus man; day versus night; Son of Krypton versus Bat of Gotham!” – Lex Luther
God versus man.
Day versus night.
Son of God versus Adam of Earth.
Lex wants superman to either show his mighty power and prove that he was right – all power and no love. Or to show he is all love but has no power to banish the night.
In this scenario it feels obvious that Superman is a Christ-like figure, he is powerful, he is a saviour and he came from the heavens.
Batman on the other hand is a dark knight, he wants vengeance and justice and the way he does this isn’t always ethical. It feels like Batman is the antithesis of Superman.
But actually, I think Superman needs Batman. And for the world to be saved, I believe they need both of these heroes.
Because Batman’s one attribute that Superman does not have, is his humanity. Batman is human, with no superpowers or alien DNA, he doesn’t fly or lift up trucks. He does have strength, albeit human strength and he has intelligence and a lot of gadgets. But Batman feels pain, whereas Superman doesn’t (unless confronted with Kryptonite!):
“You’re not brave… men are brave. You say that you want to help people, but you can’t feel their pain… their mortality… It’s time you learn what it means to be a man.” – Batman to Superman
Batman sympathises with humanity on a level that superman cannot. He too has cried at the heavens and found it silent. He understands Lex on a much deeper level.
So the place in the film where Superman and Batman stop fighting and actually work together, is where we see a fuller picture of Christ. The powerful superman and the human Batman. God and a better Adam.
This is a better picture of Jesus. Jesus is not simply a cosmic superman, here to save those in need, full of power from the heavens. But he is also from the earth, knowing the pains of humanity and sharing in its weakness. He has walked the valley of the shadow of death with us.
Maybe, if Lex had met this God, the God who understands humanity and the pains of its flesh, perhaps the seed in his heart would have melted?
However at the end of the film we are still left with a dead god and humanity still alive. Is it over? Is god dead? Has evil won? Is humanity alone?
Was Lex right? Was Superman all love and no power?
Or maybe, just maybe, the coffin is empty.