Latest Tom Cruise movie has Shi'a Islamic values, says Iranian news outlet

Cruise's character William Cage shares characteristics with the Imam Mahdi, Mashregh writes.

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October 6, 2014 13:00
2 minute read.
tom cruise

Tom Cruise at Edge of Tomorrow premiere. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A hardline Iranian news outlet on Sunday cautiously praised Tom Cruise’s latest movie Edge of Tomorrow, saying that the main character displays some Shi'a Islamic values.

Mashregh News, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards and close to Iran’s security and intelligence organizations, said Shi'a Muslims will recognize some of the characteristics displayed by Cruise’s character William Cage as reminiscent of the figure Shi'a Muslims believe will rid the world of evil before Judgement Day.

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Mashregh's “Soft War” (a reference to cultural and psychological propaganda) desk viewed the movie and found that its main character shares key characteristics with the Mahdi, or Hidden Imam, a key figure in the Twelver Shi’a Islam practiced in Iran.

Senior figures in the Iranian military have expressed concern about what it sees as the West’s “soft war” (psychological and cultural propaganda) against the Islamic Republic, with the commander of the Basij paramilitary force, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi, announcing in June that Iran’s enemies had stepped up their efforts in this area.

Against this background of distrust, Mashregh News has reviewed a number of Hollywood movies, and often criticizes them for promoting propaganda such as Zionism.

However, the Tehran-based news outlet cautiously praised Edge of Tomorrow,  publishing a lengthy review of the sci-fi military movie that includes still images with Persian translations of dialog.

The film, based on a Japanese military science fiction novel, stars Tom Cruise as William Cage, a military PR officer with no combat experience who finds himself having to face a race of aliens who have invaded Earth. Cage must fight the same battle over and over again in a  time loop, being killed each time until he learns to better fight and eventually defeat the alien foes.

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Mashregh notes that Hollywood has produced several of what it dubs “savior” blockbusters” in recent years, such as Superman, Spiderman and Captain America. However, the news outlet remarks that until now, Hollywood has not produced a story in which one man has control over time to defeat an alien invader and save the planet.

The plot of Edge of Tomorrow is therefore fresh, Mashregh writes — but  “only for an audience stunned and shaken up by Western propaganda”: Shi'a Muslims will be familiar with themes of Edge of Tomorrow.

In Shi'a Islamic thought, the three main characteristics of Cruise’s character William Cage - a superhero who dies and is brought back to life, can control time, and saves humanity - are united in the figure of the Imam Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer of humankind.  According to Sh'ia Islam, the Mahdi is the “hidden Imam”, who has already been born and is in “occultation”, hidden from the world until he returns alongside Jesus Christ to save humanity and bring about justice. In Twelver Shia Islam, the main branch of Islam practiced in Iran, the Mahdi will establish an Islamic State.

Mashregh suggests that Hollywood chose this topic because the theme of a hero who comes and persuades people to follow him is a basic human need in fearful times.  Although Hollywood in Edge of Tomorrow has given film-goers the wrong message by suggesting that this person is embodied in the character of William Cage, the movie still gives “ignorant” Western audiences a little hope that such a figure could someday come and rid them of their pain and suffering, the news outlet concludes.

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