Religion in the Marvel/DC universe

So let me start by saying that i'm not trying to offend anyone with this blog.
I'm an atheist myself and therefore hardly an expert on religion.
 
I was thinking with so many gods walking around in comics, especially Marvel, why would anyone still be a Christian, Muslim or Jewish? (e.g Kitty Pryde)
Why don't we see all kinds of temples, churches that honor Thor or Zeus and why don't they have millions of followers?
You would expect people to believe in the old religions more than in the religions of today.
Thor has saved hundreds of people in the years that he's been on earth what has Jesus ever done for the people in the Marvel Universe?
If you would actually see Thor or Hercules on tv on a daily basis like the people living in these universes do, would you still believe in Jesus or Mohammed which to my knowledge have not featured in any Marvel or DC comic. At least not one that's considered part of continuity. 
 
Are characters like Thor and Hercules not considered gods by the people in these universes?
Or are they considered a class lower than Jesus or Mohammed?
Sadly these questions will never be answered by Marvel or DC since they are a very controversial and therefore dangerous for a publisher to get into. 
 
Gabriel said to John Constatine (in the Constatine movie) that knowing is not the same as believing.
Can this be applied here as well? Does knowing that there is a Thor not necessarily mean you believe in him as being a God?

We will never know and by making the comic universe a mirror of our own we are always confronted with these unexplainable unlogical facts that we are expected as readers to just accept.

33 Comments
33 Comments
Posted by TheBatman586

Actually, I'm pretty sure Jesus existed in the DC Universe. Marvel, I'm not sure.  

Edited by NightFang

Christianity, Islam and Judaism have become the biggest religion's to date, even if Thor and Hercules walk the Earth people only would see them as wannabes and in DC/Vertigo the Presence is the most powerful of all deity's. 

Posted by ssejllenrad
@TheBatman586 said:
Actually, I'm pretty sure Jesus existed in the DC Universe. Marvel, I'm not sure.  
Not to mention He is MoM in Image...
Posted by _Torchbearer_

Monotheists and atheists alike would probably not consider Hercules, Thor, etc to be gods, only long-lived superbeings.
There was a Thor story arc where quite a few people converted to "Asgardianism", but (as I recall) Thor lost popularity quickly when he failed to resurrect a girl with her soul intact.

Posted by SC

Always a way to explain things, plus falls down to interpretations and all that. I actually know some posters who...  
 
Well, the term god, its broad. Even if you throw up a big g on it. The origins of the term god were fairly humble as well. You didn't need to be omnipotent to be a god. You just needed to be invoked and summoned and have great power, and hopefully a willingness to help. These days we have more definitions and understandings of the word. So someone in Marvel, could accept Thor, not only accept Thor, but accept Thor as a god, and still be, an atheist or, a monotheist. Or quite a few other types of theist. It'll just be a matter of definitions and specifics. You might even end up with new terminology. This is after all Marvel, the same place we know the actual planet had a sentience and an over all designer and has the spawn of the literal Mother Earth living in the sun, and so on, and so on... Thor might be a soft g god. Thats just those that wish to accept him as a god. Use the looser, easier, definition. Arguably meaning that quite a few characters could be considered gods if established as such. They might just considered Thor a very powerful dimensional alien of sorts.  
 
I think as far as Marvel and DC's stance on this.. is well, to be broad and ambiguous. No hard answers, mainly because that would not only polarize fans, but also hamstring writers a tiny bit as well. It has been brought up and discussed by writers with different and opposing views. I recall Iron Man clarifying to someone that Thor was an actual god, but I am guessing Iron Man has a similar understanding as me. I could consider Thor a god, (and would if he existed in real life.. don't laugh yet... the reasoning is... ) people worshipped him as one, his name was and might be invoked again. He is greater in power than most. His bloodline extends to this... energy source which is just... I mean his mother is the planet in a sense. This is under the assumption I was in 616. Plus soft g.I know more about 616 from an objective narrative standpoint than real life. Marvel 616 has a designer. If this was real life, i'd check into a hospital if I saw Thor flying around LOL

Moderator
Edited by castleking

In Marvel Universe many think Thor and Hercules are just a superhero gimmick and not really the actual gods of legend. alhtough some do believe them to be the actual gods i do not recall anyone worshipping Hercules in Marvel although i have seen Thor being actively worshiped. Thor has had churches build in the MU especially during his run as King Thor, Thor has also been at the center of controversy in the MU when priest have openly attacked him for claiming to be a god. Thor has also asked others to not worship him and has bn annoyed that certain people worship him one group being a hate supremacist group against mutants and people of color. iirc he was so angry he wanted to hurt them but he gave them a strict lecture instead about those who truly follow him would not do what they do and the strong should always protect the weak.

Posted by Green Skin
@castleking said:
In Marvel Universe many thing Thor and Hercules are just a superhero gimmick and not really the actual gods of legend. alhtough some do believe them to be the actual gods i do not recall anyone worshipping Hercules in Marvel although i have seen Thor being actively worshiped. Thor has had churches build in the MU especially during his run as King Thor, Thor has also been at the center of controversy in the MU when priest have openly attacked him for claiming to be a god. Thor has also asked others to not worship him and has annoyed that certain people worship him one group being a hate supremacist group against mutants and people of color. iirc he was so angry he wanted to hurt them but he gave them a strict lecture instead about those who truly follow him would not do what they do and the strong should always protect the weak.
In his new book they talk about his worshippers.  There are parts of the book where he is literally hearing their prayers in his head.
Edited by castleking

Awesome. pretty sure Thor has a similar connection to humanities psyche  when he focuses.
 
also want to say that in MU the supreme being does exist and is acknowledged by Thor and Odin, Odin claiming it to be the source of his divine power.
Thor has told others who have grown to doubt their faith that their is something bigger than him in the universe which is pretty cool to help others cope with his presence but odd that new writers forget this when they had Thor ask himself, "who does a god pray to?"

since he obviously knows a supreme deity exist.
 
Thor was also worshiped in the future 2099 as a mainstream religion while Christianity had become sects and small cult status.

Posted by isaac_clarke
@castleking said:
In Marvel Universe many thing Thor and Hercules are just a superhero gimmick and not really the actual gods of legend. alhtough some do believe them to be the actual gods i do not recall anyone worshipping Hercules in Marvel although i have seen Thor being actively worshiped. Thor has had churches build in the MU especially during his run as King Thor, Thor has also been at the center of controversy in the MU when priest have openly attacked him for claiming to be a god. Thor has also asked others to not worship him and has bn annoyed that certain people worship him one group being a hate supremacist group against mutants and people of color. iirc he was so angry he wanted to hurt them but he gave them a strict lecture instead about those who truly follow him would not do what they do and the strong should always protect the weak.

 
In Herc's Fear Itself book his warshippers warn him of ________ threat and he picks up on it while healing up. 

 
@TheBatman586
said:
Actually, I'm pretty sure Jesus existed in the DC Universe. Marvel, I'm not sure.  

He did, as Marvel rolls off the idea of having the real world mixed in with their heroes. 
 
This lady had a little bit of everything at her home in Chaos War: Thor. 
But yeah it's established DC has a Jesus, what does the last son of Krypton think about that though?
 
Pew Pew Pew.
Posted by Michiel76
@isaac_clarke: Wow this is all very interesting, i didn't know that in a very recent issue of Hercules this was touched upon. I stand corrected now i know hercules is actually being worshipped by people in the MU.
thanks
Posted by herculesfan43

i think well never know the true class of power Jesus and Mohammad are measured against because dc or marvel are afraid of a cvil suite due to the size of the Muslim and christian church so they hint about the characters yet never show them in plain view.

Edited by Comiclove5
@isaac_clarke said:

@castleking said:

In Marvel Universe many thing Thor and Hercules are just a superhero gimmick and not really the actual gods of legend. alhtough some do believe them to be the actual gods i do not recall anyone worshipping Hercules in Marvel although i have seen Thor being actively worshiped. Thor has had churches build in the MU especially during his run as King Thor, Thor has also been at the center of controversy in the MU when priest have openly attacked him for claiming to be a god. Thor has also asked others to not worship him and has bn annoyed that certain people worship him one group being a hate supremacist group against mutants and people of color. iirc he was so angry he wanted to hurt them but he gave them a strict lecture instead about those who truly follow him would not do what they do and the strong should always protect the weak.

 

In Herc's Fear Itself book his warshippers warn him of ________ threat and he picks up on it while healing up. 

 
@TheBatman586

said:
Actually, I'm pretty sure Jesus existed in the DC Universe. Marvel, I'm not sure.  

He did, as Marvel rolls off the idea of having the real world mixed in with their heroes. 
 
This lady had a little bit of everything at her home in Chaos War: Thor. 
But yeah it's established DC has a Jesus, what does the last son of Krypton think about that though?
 Pew Pew Pew.
Actually Superman, Spider-man and Dick Grayson are all Christians.
This site helped me alot with questions like these 
http://www.comicbookreligion.com/
Posted by bigpicnic

@Michiel76: Another major problem with the traditional faiths in either DC or Marvel is that, in worlds where it's a given that numerous alien species exist, christianity et. al are too overly-fixated with humans and Earth.

For example, why would Superman be a christian when it posits a God that seems solely and exclusively concerned with earth humans (and, indeed, a god who apparently allowed Superman's entire species to become extinct without even so much as making his or his son's presence known to their planet). Or consider the perspective of the Green lanterns: the idea of a god who sacrificed his one and only son just to help a handful of people on one arbitrary planet in the universe, would seem pointless and, indeed, laughably provincial.

Imagine if you moved to Mars and the Martians all worshiped a religion that preached, basically, only martians had souls. I doubt you'd be too inclined to hop on board.

Posted by Michiel76
@bigpicnic said:

@Michiel76: Another major problem with the traditional faiths in either DC or Marvel is that, in worlds where it's a given that numerous alien species exist, christianity et. al are too overly-fixated with humans and Earth.

Indeed, that does seem to be a major problem too and supports the question why anyone in a comicverse would be religious at all doesn't it?
although in real life we still have people that think they are the chosen people.
but thats not something i want to get into here.
Posted by Michiel76
@Comiclove5: wow i didn't know there was a whole site dedicated to religion in comics and which character believes what.
although they don't seem to provide any proof to their claims that superman is christian.
it would be interesting to read a superman comic that explains why he is a christian, like BIGPICNIC says in a reply on this blog:
 
For example, why would Superman be a christian when it posits a God that seems solely and exclusively concerned with earth humans (and, indeed, a god who apparently allowed Superman's entire species to become extinct without even so much as making his or his son's presence known to their planet)
 
it is a fair question, and i would love to read a comic that explains this, although it could be explained by simply stating that superman was brought up on earth by christians.
Posted by fodigg
Interesting question! One nitpick before I answer:
 
@Michiel76 said:
I'm an atheist myself and therefore hardly an expert on religion.  
Just because you're an atheist doesn't mean you're not learned in religion. Most of the atheists I know have a religious background. I myself did Catholic schooling from 1st grade through university. Not relevant to your question or points, but wanted to address that. Don't sell yourself short on understanding just because you don't hold to a particular belief. 
 
As for the question, others have pointed out in this thread that there are worshipers in Marvel. The "Thorites" in the 2099 setting are another example of "godly Superhero" worship. For those who don't follow this trend and worship more traditional Gods, however, I would say probably see the claim of godhood as some sort of mental illness or arrogance, and just view them as any other superhero. 
 
What would be most interesting to me as a reader would be those worshiping superheroes that DON'T claim to be gods. A sort of hyper-nationalistic or pseudo-religious form of hero worship. Something like the plot of Supergod, where countries were trying to create national gods. It can be interesting stuff. 
 
I guess it comes down to distinctions. What distinctions does the writer want to make in their story? And these things don't always line up, such as when DC introduced the mark of cain and that Vandal Savage was Cain himself even after Sandman introduced a version of Cain. And then they had to clarify (i.e., retcon) that Gaimen's Cain was just a "literary representation" of Cain.
Posted by Michiel76
@fodigg said:
What would be most interesting to me as a reader would be those worshiping superheroes that DON'T claim to be gods. A sort of hyper-nationalistic or pseudo-religious form of hero worship. Something like the plot of Supergod, where countries were trying to create national gods. It can be interesting stuff.
Like the Church of Hala? i don't think Mar-vell ever saw himself as a god or wanted to be one.
Although i don't feel that plot has been very interesting, could have been so much more
Posted by fodigg
@Michiel76: Yes, that's a perfect example of what I was talking about. I had forgotten they'd done that. That particular plot had some interesting parts to it, but I just don't give a crap about (Marvel's) Captain Marvel.
Edited by MydLyfeCrysis
@Michiel76: @bigpicnic said:

@Michiel76: Another major problem with the traditional faiths in either DC or Marvel is that, in worlds where it's a given that numerous alien species exist, christianity et. al are too overly-fixated with humans and Earth.


I think this is more a generalization as there are many religions out there that have/do believe in an infinite God ("worlds without number") and do not assume that Earthlings are the only creation (though, surely some sects of some religions out there may). Expanding on that belief, understanding God's attention would be a futile attempt as what some may see as sole, undivided attention may be a flippant gaze to an unknowable infinite being. I think, in that respect, one can easily see how religions can maintain in a universe of otherworldly beings. The God spoken of, in accordance with those religions, would be a God of existence, not simply a God of Earth. Superman being of faith is a fine image I would think. It lends to his character and humanization and embodies that mid-west spirit he was designed to represent. Even the Kryptonians have their religion of sorts.
 
Religious themes and characters have long been present in the comic worlds, and I think this is in part to the tradition of mythology. Comics really are our modern day mythologies and as such they reflect the tradition that has stood prevalent in our human society for thousands of years.
 
Further, I would like to give a hand to all of the responders in this thread. Most threads that ever mention religious topics quickly devolve into an uncivilized, vacuous pit of vile vitriol when one side egregiously assaults the other. And quickly the vacuum of civil discussion is replaced by hatred and filth.
Posted by gravitypress

Religion and the popular belief in one God has always been present in comics. In Thor he had a debate with a preacher who took offense at him calling himself a god (So much so he nuked him.) Thor confirms the presence of a higher deity that works outside and above and beyond his sphere of influence when it comes to earth. Eric Masterson is a good example, he went to Valhalla when he died but was released to go to the afterlife ruled by God. In Simonsons Thor run, Thor went to Hel to release the mortal souls Hela had pilfered via the Dark Elves because they didn't belong there.

Posted by AssertingValor

DC is more religious set up,  but i like marvels set up as well............

Posted by Michiel76
@MydLyfeCrysis said:  Further, I would like to give a hand to all of the responders in this thread. Most threads that ever mention religious topics quickly devolve into an uncivilized, vacuous pit of vile vitriol when one side egregiously assaults the other. And quickly the vacuum of civil discussion is replaced by hatred and filth.
 
i have to say i am very pleased how comicvine members in general behave themselves, of course sometimes things do get out of hand, but if you look at a site like gamespot things are very civil here on comicvine.
I guess comic fans are more civil and less illiterate than gamers hahaha. Somehow the whole xbox360 vs ps3 has turned very ugly but if there is a Marvel vs DC (if any) than fans are more mature discussing it.
And a i truly agree with you and also applaud everybody that has commented here on my blog.
Posted by krisboyz781

Well, I am a Catholic. In both universes the "gods" Thor and etc. are viewed superpowered beings that are old. The Big G is viewed by everyone, even Thor and some aliens as the supreme ruler.

Posted by castleking
@isaac_clarke said:
 
In Herc's Fear Itself book his warshippers warn him of ________ threat and he picks up on it while healing up. 

 
 
Pew Pew Pew.
I meant by modern people on earth not his ancient followers. = /
aside from his obsessed estranged wife.
Posted by Kal'smahboi

The God of the Bible/Torah/Qur'an/etc exists in DC. It's called the Presence. Anyone else is a god only in relation to normal people in the Universe. The "New Gods" are not actually deities but beings so powerful that they might as well be gods when compared to, say, humans or even Superman.

Posted by castleking

the title god simply means a powerful being more often celestial in nature which many of the comic gods fall under by definition along with other similar titles like extraterrestrial, aliens, trans dimensional beings etc etc

Posted by Adnan
@castleking: Yeah, God as a word has multiple meanings, which I think most people seem to forget.  But if we're talking semantics, many of these cosmic figures and the like should really be referred to as 'Godlike' not 'Gods', but meh. 'New Gods' rolls off the tongue way better than 'New Godlike-Beings', I suppose.
Posted by StarKiller809

This is what I don't like. When people start throwing in Religion and Politics in comics.  I do believe to god and am religious but I definitely don't like it when they come into comics because no one can ever agree.

Posted by castleking
@Adnan
 
yeh, but Thor by definition and power and worshipers still falls under being a god as a description of who and what he is.
Posted by TheCrowbar

Actually wasn't it established in DC that humans were the conduit to "The Presence" aka God, with a capital G, love and power? At least according to Eclipso and the White Lantern Entity came from Earth. It makes sense that humans would think their special, every huge cosmic thing happens there.

Edited by Adnan
@StarKiller809: I'm not too fond when it's a main focus either, but as soon as the cosmic/trans-dimensional/mystic mythos gets involved, then it's pretty hard not to draw allusions to the various concepts regarding God. DC and Marvel have pretty much stayed away from implementing religion outside of diversity-related matters, which is probably a good thing.
 
@castleking
Hm, I guess so when you put it like that. I'm not too familiar with Thor, he's worshipped?
 
The point about the Presence represent the everyman's God makes sense.
Posted by castleking
@Adnan
 
yes, Thor is still worshiped today in the MU and that is putting aside people in the real world today who still revere him.
Thor has bn insulted by ministers/priest/pastures in marvel as a false god antichrist and his followers goin to hell.. 
Thor of course being the noble god that he is has taken it in stride.
There are also some white supremacist groups in MU that followed Thor, something Thor did not approve of and spoke against.
Posted by Comiclove5
@Michiel76 said:
@Comiclove5: wow i didn't know there was a whole site dedicated to religion in comics and which character believes what. although they don't seem to provide any proof to their claims that superman is christian. it would be interesting to read a superman comic that explains why he is a christian, like BIGPICNIC says in a reply on this blog:  For example, why would Superman be a christian when it posits a God that seems solely and exclusively concerned with earth humans (and, indeed, a god who apparently allowed Superman's entire species to become extinct without even so much as making his or his son's presence known to their planet) it is a fair question, and i would love to read a comic that explains this, although it could be explained by simply stating that superman was brought up on earth by christians.
Here is a better site  
http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Superman.html