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As Man of Steel, with its spiritual themes, soars toward a $590 million worldwide box-office haul, the Vatican’s official newspaper has turned its attention to the faiths of other prominent superheroes, asking in the headline, “Is the Hulk Catholic?”
The answer, according to L’Osservatore Romano writer Gaetano Vallini, is yes, and he points to the wedding of Bruce Banner and Betty Ross as the most concrete evidence of this. “Bruce Banner, the incredible green man, in fact married his beloved Betty Ross in a church and a Catholic priest presided at the ceremony,” he writes in the full-page article. “There are other indications dispersed among the hundreds of comic strips dedicated to him that are said to unequivocally reveal his faith.”
Of course, Adherents.com, the go-to source for the religious affiliations of comic-book characters (and other figures, both real and fictional), lists the Hulk as a lapsed Catholic, but the website appears preoccupied with the Ultimate and live-action TV versions of the character. A final determination may require Pope Francis to intercede.
Batman, too, is Catholic, Vallini determines, offering as proof that Bruce Wayne’s mother was Catholic and noting a sequence depicting the character as a young boy is depicted saying his prayers by his bed. Again, though, Adherents.com brings the writer’s finding into question. The website arrives at the conclusion that the Dark Knight is a lapsed Catholic or a lapsed Episcopalian, stating, “there is some disagreement among fans as well as among writers about whether the character is a mostly lapsed Catholic or a mostly lapsed Episcopalian. There is universal agreement that the character is not an active churchgoer in any faith.”
But there’s at least thing on which L’Osservatore Romano and Adherents.com can agree: Superman is definitely a Methodist.