Tag Archives: Man of Steel

Is the Pope Catholic? Better Yet, Is the Hulk?

The Hulk's Catholic ceremony

The Incredible Hulk #319 where the Hulk’s alter ego Bruce Banner marries in a Catholic wedding ceremony. (Image provided by Robot 6.)

In July, Matt Staggs of Random House’s genre site Suvudu conducted a brief examination of comics’ relationship with religion, prompted by a report by the British Telegraph that the Vatican’s newspaper L’Osservatore Romano “devoted a full page looking at the Catholic identity of popular comic book superheroes while questioning the religious affiliation of some of the most popular like Superman and Batman.”

Senior journalist Gaetano Vallini writes,

Bruce Banner, the incredible green man [the Hulk], in fact married his beloved Betty Ross in a church and a Catholic priest presided at the ceremony. […] There are other indications dispersed among the hundreds of comic strips dedicated to him that are said to unequivocally reveal his faith.

Kevin Melrose, covering the story for CBR‘s Robot 6 column, notes that Adherents.com‘s listing of superhero religious affiliations has the Hulk as “a lapsed Catholic.” The greater question here might be whether the religion of one’s alter ego or monstrous other self carries over across manifestations; if Dr. Jekyll was a Christian, does that also make Mr. Hyde one?

Oddly enough (or tellingly), the full-page examination of superheroes is neither available at nor catalogued by L’Osservatore Romano‘s website — at least, not yet. All the site offers when searched for “Superman” or “comics” is a 2011 excerpt in praise of Tin Tin in advance of Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson motion-capture movie The Adventures of Tin Tin based on the comics of Herge. Josephine McKenna of The Telegraph notes that the 2013 Vatican piece was published in the wake of Man of Steel‘s impressive global box office draw.

Sermon Stumping for Man of Steel

Recently, the Sequart Comics Research Organization offered an editorial by library historian Stuart Warren on the inherent Christ-ness of Superman, no doubt times to coincide with the release of the new Warner Brothers big screen depiction of the Last Son of Krypton Man of Steel. It’s well-trodden ground, Supes as Jesus (and news outlets like FOX News and WND seemed to pick up on this popular observation, too, this cinematic go-around — AmericaBlog was among those who did not appreciate the repeated comparison)

But certainly Sequart didn’t give Warren the sum that Warner Brothers paid theologian Craig Detwiler of Pepperdine University for his notes on Superman as fodder for Christian sermons.
Detwiler claims that his material, entitled, “Jesus: The Original Superhero,” gives “churches a chance to engage with pop culture instead of just condemning it,” according to io9 and CNN. Of course, none of the reports suggest free tickets are included with Detwiler’s sermon notes, so whatever inspiration or identification these congregations find through Zack Snyder’s Superman will also prove lucrative to Warner Brothers at the box office and in merchandising.