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Messianic figures in pop culture

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#1
Frozenwolf150

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As we all know, the biblical Jesus was not a unique figure, but a character who represents just one example of a common literary archetype.  Since the time the Gospels were written, there have been many messiah figures in popular fiction.  Here are several noteworth examples, and some characterisics they have in common.

Superman:

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http://en.wikipedia....iction#Superman

The classic American superhero, Superman, is either a messiah or a Deliverer. Like Moses, he was set in a small bundle and sent on an unknown voyage to be raised by adopted parents. Many Superman writers make much of the fact that Jor-El (Superman's biological father) sacrificed his own life, allowing his only son to be saved, in an inversion of the Christian beliefs, in which God sacrifices his only son to save the world. This last son of Krypton is sent to Earth to be a figure of leadership and hope, a clearly messianic message. Some versions of the Superman story have Jor-El desire that Kal-El (Superman's Kryptonian name) set up his own kingdom on Earth, to lead mankind in a new era (another clearly messianic message). Depending on the author of the story, such an intended kingdom is usually threatening to the existing human social order. In most recent versions of the Superman story, Superman rejects his primary identification as a Kryptonian, and sees himself as a human: he views Clark Kent as the actual person, and "Superman" as merely a public persona he adopts. Many fans disagree with this however, stating that Superman is proud of and embraces his Kryptonian heritage, carrying on the legacy of his people and still adapting to the ways of Earth.

The kyptonian name of Superman "Kal-El" contains an inner meaning in Hebrew. Kal El is translated as "The Voice Of God" (קול-אל)

Also, in the series "The Death of Superman", he sacrifices his life to save Metropolis from Doomsday, a personification of evil representing the opposite of every virtue that Superman embodies.  Following the battle, Superman is reborn in four different incarnations.

Neo:

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http://en.wikipedia...._Matrix_Trilogy

The Matrix movie trilogy also features a messianic figure referred to as "The One". The One has many prophecies relating to his role in humanity's salvation. In The Matrix, The One is described this way by the character of Morpheus: "When the Matrix was first built, there was a man born inside who had the ability to change whatever he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was he who freed the first of us, taught us the truth. As long as the Matrix exists the human race will never be free. After he died the Oracle prophesied his return and that his coming would hail the destruction of the Matrix and the war, bring freedom to our people."

However, it was the opposite that actually happened in the movies, and Neo was taught the truth by Morpheus, instead.

Thomas Anderson, alias Neo, discovers that the world he lives in is merely a computer simulation intended to keep humanity enslaved. Not only does he penetrate this illusion, but he discovers that he has significant abilities to manipulate the simulation himself and joins with other rebellious humans to bring down the entire system. Mr. Anderson doesn't find true confirmation of his role as the One until he is killed in battle, but manages through his own power over the Matrix to somehow bring himself back to life immediately thereafter. There are several Gnostic-themes in the story. Other subliminal themes include the Free Will vs. fate-debate and the nature of reality, perception, enlightenment, and existence. In many ways The Matrix is about a kind of reality enforcement.

The Matrix Reloaded featured a Neo who had many new powers, among them, the power of flight, incredible fighting abilities, and the power to resurrect the dead. The film also expanded the role of "The One", revealing that the existence of "The One" was a recurring flaw inherent to the programming of the Matrix, and that his purpose is to return to the machine mainframe to assist in reloading the Matrix program. In addition to doing so, "The One" is meant to choose a number of individuals from the Matrix to repopulate Zion, the last human city, after its destruction. Neo is the sixth One, and the first to refuse to cooperate with the machines in favor of saving his Beloved.

In The Matrix Revolutions, Neo visits the machine capital in the real world to negotiate with the machines. Since the Matrix has at this point been taken over by a rogue program, Smith, a former agent and a replicating virus, Neo negotiates an end to the war between humans and machines in return for Neo's help in destroying Smith. Smith ultimately copies himself over Neo, but is destroyed in the process, allowing for the Matrix to be Reloaded. Neo thus sacrifices himself to save both humanity (Who would have been destroyed by the Matrix system crash and the destruction of Zion) and the machines. In one of the closing scenes, the body of Neo, plugged into the Matrix in the machine city, glows with a bright white crucifix, the symbol of Jesus Christ, the Christian messiah.


Kenny McCormick:

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Yes, that kid in South Park who used to die in every episode.  Kenny isn't usually regarded as a messianic figure, but it's one of the ways his character can be interpreted.  He came from humble beginnings and has been raised in poverty.  He is typically the kindest of the four main boys, and will help his friends without question.  He has been killed and resurrected (numerous times) and is often willing to sacrifice his life for the greater good.  In the South Park movie he saved the world from Hell by convincing Satan to turn back, and in the episode "Best Friends Forever" he played a key role in saving Heaven from an invasion by the legions of Hell.

His appearance, due to the orange parka he always wears, gives him a strong resemblance to the Egyptian ankh, the symbol of life, death, and rebirth.

Lately, a lot of fans have noted his diminished role in the show, but are nonetheless hopeful that he'll make a comeback.  Who knows?  Maybe Heaven will need him again some day.


So who are your favorite archetypal messianic figures?

#2
Ungodly

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I did like SuperMan until the most recent Hollywood SuperMan movie plunged headfirst into simulated Jeebus mythology. It was disgusting the way they were pandering to the Fundie crowd.

The Matrix was just stupid.

And I'm not a Southpark fan.

I prefer Brian from "Life of Brian", he's my hero.

#3
The White Coyote

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#4
Unbeliever

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I was really pissed off about that time in one of the movies when Superman went back to that diner and beat up that bully trucker - I don't think Superman would've done that, it was inconsistent with his character.

I always liked Batman better anyway, since he was a superhero without the superpowers, which was something I could aspire to. Not that I could do his job, since I don't have a handy cave or extreme wealth. 

I've been somewhat disappointed with the Batman movies, though.

My favorite archetypal messianic figure? I guess it's a toss-up between Lassie and Flipper!  :smt005

#5
Seti

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Fearless, Brave, Loyal, Pure of Heart, Protective, Loving and pocketsized. What more could a man or woman ask for!


Walt, you're taking quite a risk there. Most terriers are far too big for their boots anyway (espcially if they're extremely small terriers.)
:farao:

#6
Unbeliever

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Fearless, Brave, Loyal, Pure of Heart, Protective, Loving and pocketsized. What more could a man or woman ask for!


Walt, you're taking quite a risk there. Most terriers are far too big for their boots anyway (espcially if they're extremely small terriers.)
:farao:


Hey, that wharn't me! That was our good friend and dog-lover the Thinker Dude! Not that I ain't a dog lover myself, I just like to steer away from confusion. Oh, but wait, if that were true, then why do I like reading the Bible so much?  :smt102

#7
Seti

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Oh come on - you can't expect me to cope with different nom-de-plumes on different sites and real names - not at my time of life.
:farao:

#8
The White Coyote

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Belle doesn't like being refered to as "small" She prefers the term growthfully challenged.

#9
Unbeliever

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We could refer to her as "petite", but that might seem a bit to, uh, feminine, like a poodle, of something.


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