Discussing the Finer Points of Man of Steel


Yesterday, I posted my official, spoiler-free review of Man of Steel, a film that’s better than its being scored, but not quite on the level of other true superhero classics. I like writing reviews, but for movies as big as this one, I really enjoy discussing them more in-depth in places other than a simple comment section of a post.

Today, I’ll talk a little bit more about the specific plot points of the movie I was hesitant to mention in my review, as I suspect they include some of the more controversial aspects of the film, including the ending. Obviously this is a post you should stay away from if you haven’t seen the movie yet, but for those of you who have over the weekend, perhaps this will be a discussion you’ll enjoy.

It’s pretty easy to convey what I did like about Man of Steel. I think Snyder did a great job making the film visually stunning, as is his forte, yet different from his other works which were heavily reliant on slow-motion during fight sequences. His slower moments were beautiful at times, while the action sequences were pulse pounding and truly felt like supernatural beings duking it out to the maximum of their abilities. Superman never felt like he was holding back, which is something that often plagues his other iterations. To me, it does in fact matter if Superman throws a punch.


Especially if it’s aimed toward this guy.

I liked the overall plot, even though it did have to stop and explain itself a few too many times. It was an origin story without feeling TOO much like an origin story, and I enjoyed the snippets we saw of Clark’s childhood interspersed with his present day life. I particularly like how it didn’t take him three quarters of the movie to finally get in costume. And when he did? Boy, they could not have picked another human being on earth other than Henry Cavill who was more suited for that role from a physical perspective, both with his looks and build. He’s the most visually striking live-action Superman I’ve seen across pop culture history.

The issues with the film were more thematic than anything else. Superman/Clark was presented as not having all that many problems, the main one simply being he didn’t know when he was supposed to reveal himself to the world. It’s an odd plot point to pick out as the main focus of the film, and it manifested itself in really weird ways.

It really started to become the focal point of the film during one flashback when Clark saves a bus full of his classmates from drowning in a lake. The other kids all saw him do it, which leads him to have the following conversation with his father, Jonathan Kent.


“Was I just supposed to let them all die?”


This was in the trailer, and struck me as odd then too as well. Was Jonathan Kent seriously suggesting to his son that he really should have let a bus full of kids die to protect his secret? I understand that Kent has always been protective of Clark in every iteration we’ve seen of him, but this just struck me as odd and callous. I really didn’t like Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent in the film, and this was one of the reasons why.

Then the insanity of this “secret” principle gets turned up to a whole new level during another flashback later on. This time, a tornado threatens to ravage a freeway full of cars. Jonathan tells Clark to simply escort the others to safety while he stays and attempts to get their dog out of the car. This is odd to begin with, as Clark could have easily done this without attracting attention to himself and lacked the potential to be hurt. But rather, it’s just a plot device where Jonathan Kent is now in the path of the tornado, and Clark can’t rush out to save him because there are a ton of people watching. He follows his father’s previous bus advice, and lets the man die in front of his eyes.

This is stupid.

There are many things I believe about Superman and his need to keep secrets, but in no way would I ever agree that he would willingly watch one of his family members die in order to keep his secret, even if it’s what that family member “wants.” There’s simply no way, and that was a completely unbelievable turn for both Jonathan and Clark Kent.


“Hey guys, I’m Superman. But you can call me Hopeman because that’s really what the S stands for.”

And really, this entire debate about “when he should reveal himself” that’s the driving force behind the film is negated when Zod shows up. Yes, it probably IS time to reveal yourself when an alien warlord shows up and threatens to kill everyone on Earth unless you do so. This wasn’t in way a moral issue or a hard decision for him to make, negating the entire set up we’ve just talked about.

It made the end even stranger as well. In the comics and previous versions of Superman we’ve seen onscreen, one of his biggest moral struggles is his unflinching creed of never killing anyone. He sticks to this even when dealing with truly evil bad guys who have killed millions of people themselves. Knowing that, the fact that he does actually kill Zod at the end is a big deal, but the film doesn’t present it as such.

Whether or not Superman should kill bad guys is never actually discussed in the film. He has some run-ins with bullies where he turns the other cheek, but it’s not the same thing. So when he kills Zod in the end, the audience who isn’t familiar with Superman’s moral code won’t think much of it. “Oh, he killed the bad guy who has already killed thousands of people. Why would he not?” But in reality, that should have been a MUCH more significant event in the film, yet the moral dilemma behind it wasn’t addressed at all. The problem isn’t that Superman kills Zod as many claim. It’s that the film doesn’t recognize the colossal significance of Superman killing Zod.

And it wasn’t even handled well. Superman kills Zod because he’s about to fry four random people inside Grand Central Station. Superman probably killed ten times that amount of people inadvertently himself by throwing Zod through skyscrapers earlier. And Zod has already killed thousands more before that as Metropolis is now mostly a ruin at that point. Rather, if it was Lois about to be roasted, that would have been a higher stakes scenario, and it would have been more of an impossible decision as it involved someone he cared about. But this is all assuming that the film had done anything to set up Superman’s no-kill moral code previously, which it hadn’t. To me, that would have been a far more interesting issue to base the film around than simply deciding when was the right time to come out of the superhero closet, a decision made obvious by the events of the film.

So that’s my major gripe with the film, and the one issue that stuck with me after the fact. It’s not a plot hole, which is the type of thing I’ll usually gripe about during a movie like this, but a thematic problem that made Superman struggle with an issue that wasn’t even all that important in the end, and then gloss over one that was much more significant.

What do you think?

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  1. I think you pretty much nailed it. One of the better analysis pieces you’ve written in a while.

    To further a couple of things you’re talking about here, though, the movie has two dramatic questions it plans to resolve. The first is the question of what kind of man Kal-El will become, and the second is the question of how the world will react to him.

    Neither of these are really dealt with. We don’t see the world’s reaction to Superman in any meaningful way, and there’s a near-total lack of fallout from the worst fictional tragedy to ever hit an American city.

    The question of what kind of man Kal-El will be is at best resolved by the halfway point of the movie (where he turns himself in to protect Earth) (which would render the rest of the movie dramatically pointless) and at worst barely resolved at all. He clearly has noble intentions, but I’m not sure we’ve seen that he can be a noble man.

    The net gain of what Superman actually accomplishes in this movie is shockingly small.

  2. I also found it very odd how they introduced Superman to the world and how quickly he took to the cape. It was all edited rather weirdly. “You can save them all. Here, wear this and go learn to fly.”

    Pacing of the first hour was also very… I don’t know, rushed? Choppy? Odd?

    That being said, I REALLY enjoyed the movie.

  3. Very solid points.

    It seems to be a generational split on the ending. It seems to me that people 35 and older hate it or have issues with Supes killing Zod, while those 35 and younger don’t see it as an issue. Is this because of the love for the original Donner versions that the older has? That the newer generation haven’t read the comics? Or is it a falling away from a moral code in society?

    I don’t know.

    I hope that that moment is something that plays a key role in the next film or even in the creation of creating the JLA.

  4. First, I want to say that I really liked this interpretation of Superman, and that I never have really liked Superman before, sorry the Donner/Reeve movies are far too cheesy for me to enjoy. I feel that’s important for me to say, because I feel like I was the target audience of the movie, not so much it’s pre-established fan base, but someone who is aware of the source material but not attached to it. I think that’s something all of us comic fans need to understand when they take what we love and adapt it to a wider audience. It’s not for us, it’s for everyone else.

    I have no problem with him killing Zod, realistically what else could the writers have come up with? Banishing him in a black hole? Is that really any better? A scene earlier in the film where he spared someone would have helped set up that emotional response better though….I guess he spared the truck driver, but that’s not what we needed to see.

    That being said, it is pretty ridiculous how much mass destruction in urban areas has been portrayed lately in movies (not just this one) without any real care for the obvious consequences to be given by those writing these scripts. Even before superman got to metropolis the death toll would have had to be in the tens of thousands. And while it was grand spectacle to go crashing through buildings, then go to space, then crash through more buildings, it’s hard not to note the disregard for public safety. I can understand all the Superman fan boys being upset with that.

    I agree that him letting his earth dad die seemed a bit off, a ton of people seem to know about him, how would a few more have been worse?

  5. I agree with what you’re saying here. After watching the film, those were the things that I noticed myself.

    And then I started thinking about the coming sequel(s). What if Man of Steel was really meant as a set-up for future films? In here, he was treated as a relatively new “Superman”. He does not have the ideals that defined Superman for us… YET.

    I’m hoping that they use the amount of collateral damage that he’s done in this film as a jump off point for his attitude change/maturity in the sequels. Like, he’ll never repeat the same mistakes that he did in Man of Steel (destroying a whole city/killing Zod).

    Also, I’m thinking that Lex or another villain will use the events of MoS as a key to have the people of Earth rally against Superman in the sequel, thus, answering the question raised by Man of Steel if Earth/humans are ready for someone like Kal-El.

    But then again, I’m just being too optimistic for the overall franchise that will come from this and hanging on the hopes that the next writers/director will address our concerns…

  6. Do you think maybe that’s the point? To leave all these questions and themes untouched for use in a sequel?

    I don’t know if it’s really the intention, but it certainly is a possibility.

  7. I agree on the notion of Superman coming not needing to be that big of a thing except at the beginning cause it helps explain why he is going around doing odd jobs.

    As for the killing part. I feel people blow it out of proportion. I don’t think people really needed to have the no killing moral code rammed own their thread. Most people understand Superman is a good guy that doesn’t want to kill or hurt anyone. He only does it when he absolutely has to. Something that was presented in the film. He only killed Zod once he had no other choice and Zod would have killed other people. Even than the effect it has on Superman is instant and very apparent he absolutely hated what just happened. To the point he begins to cry in Lois’ lap. The only other time we see Clark give of those type of sad emotions is when his father dies. So it’s obvious this isn’t just a thing he normally does or wants to do.

    I also did not like that he didn’t save his father but I could at least see the situation happening. Someone you care about asks you to do something you don’t want. You make the split second decision to do it and instantly regret it when something bad happens which Clark did. Like I said wish it didn’t happen but I can see how it could happen. Jonathon was also disappointing to me in the film

  8. Maybe we are just forgetting Nolan’s input in the film…that guy has dark scenarios written all over it, since Batman “killed” Dent and all that..

    Taking that boost of darkness into mind, then they should just do a Doomsday for a second one or third(that’s just maybe taking it TOO far, but since we haven’t seen Lex Luthor or Superman’s weakness to kryptonite anywhere) or made up post-JLA scenario, like the “Death of Superman” one.

  9. DJ- I love that idea.

    It would build on how much restraint he has to constantly exert, and trying to make up for actual mistakes would make for a richer character.

  10. Great article and you are the first I’ve read that actually makes this point and doesn’t just cry about Superman killing Zod. Which if I remember correctly he does in the comics as well. But anyway to your point of them not addressing the moral implications I felt they kinda did with the way he reacts after killing Zod it shows that it wasn’t something he really wanted to do and he is immediately reviled by it. As far as the destruction of Metropolis I have a feeling we’ll see the back lash of that in the next film as by the time the fight with Zod ended the film really didn’t have time to address that. We have to remember this is going to be an on going series of movies and think of this one as just the first chapter or first season if you think about it in TV terms.

  11. I agree completley.

    The fact that Pa Kent died for the family dog just fell flat for me. If Clark had to take his Mom to the bridge while his Dad was saving, say a trapped child and the dog, that scene may have worked.

    As far as the epic battle went, there was a lazy mention of the evacuation of Metropolis. If we felt like Metropolis was empty, or at least a section of it was empty, then the final battle would have been more enjoyable.

    The final showdown was actually amazing if you look at it out of context. It didn’t take some kryptonite poisoning to have a real Superman fight scene.

    The ending with the Daily Planet struck a good chord, giving a certain familiarity.

  12. For once I agree with the crowd here. I think most of these problems are Goyer related. He’s been the head writer for Nolan’s Batman and Snyder’s Superman and just appears to have a real “muh grittiness” hard-on for killing off villains. If Luthor doesn’t make it out of the next film alive, I’m going to be pissed.

    The movie was cool and full of great moments, but the character development was abysmal and Pa Kent was just bizarre. “Oh noes, a tornado! I’m going to stand here and let it kill me because origin story!”

  13. A couple of ideas that seem to be recurring…

    – The notion that a sequel might be where the character development comes in is immaterial. A) That’s a completely unsupportable hypothesis at the moment and B) it doesn’t help this movie’s coherence or catharsis at all.

    – Showing regret is not the same thing as a statement on morality, an examination of repercussions, or simply building up to a moment effectively. This might be a weird comparison, but look at how much better Se7en sets up and pays off a similar scene.

    – Also immaterial: the alleged “logic” of the scene(s). For one thing, that’s not what Paul’s talking about at all. For another… it’s fiction! The writers chose this ending; they chose its context, and therefore it has meaning beyond simple a+b=c logic. The cavalier treatement of death in this movie can’t be explained away by “well, that’s what would happen in real life.”

  14. Meh. Some are valid issues, I suppose, depending upon one’s critical interpretation of the film. I tried to post some ideas in the official thread yesterday, but, for some reason, I was told I didn’t have “permission” to do that (???), so I’ll briefly add my two cents here (if the system lets me).

    First, I thought Goyer’s pretty effectively channeled the Superman of the 1990’s, which took a solid critical drubbing off and on itself. Yeah, origins get tinkered with from time to time. Do I like that? No, I don’t, but it ain’t my comic, so there.

    Second, I’m okay thematically on the killing of Zod. It struck me as a bit odd initially upon seeing it, but, after some reflection, I thought it was that seminal ‘put up or shut up’ moment for Supes. Would he sit back and (thematically) let his next father (the people of Metropolis) die? No, he couldn’t. Should he have just knocked Zod out? Didn’t know that was possible. Plus, Supes was furious with himself for doing it, so I’m figuring that’ll now pave the way for ‘No Death’ Tuesdays.

    Third, in the 90’s (like I mentioned above) Metropolis was ALWAYS getting trashed. Gotham City? Same thing. That’s why, at least, the crew over at Batman decided to let Gotham kinda/sorta stay dead for awhile so they could sort things out creatively. Metropolis didn’t get as much attention, though it should have, and maybe that’ll get some screen time next go ’round.

    Fourth, the death of Pa Kent was fine for what it was. I kinda/sorta agree with Paul that it didn’t feel, erm, ‘geniune.’ However, I liked that it played out as if it wasn’t Clark’s choice; it was Jonathon’s. Clark didn’t want to disappoint his father; it was all he knew; so he didn’t do it. That said, I preferred it better in SUPERMAN – THE MOVIE, where it was thematically handled much different and, arguably, more realistic … if that can be said of comic book movies.

    Fifth (and final, haters!) is, yeah, in a lot of ways there were small moments I was uncomfortable with in the movie. There were a lot of little things that were addressed with a kind of moral detachment or moral ambiguity (like Pa Kent telling Clark that, yeah, maybe he had to let others die in order to learn who he was going to be as a man, which still doesn’t ring true EXCEPT it was Pa Kent’s opinion, not Clark’s, as I think we can all agree especially given the film’s ending death). The best Superman stories aren’t ones that deal with moral ambiguity; they deal with the consequences of Superman having his own moral code — in fact, that’s why he’s ALWAYS at odds with the Justice League.

  15. @Chooch
    I never assumed that the scene happened by accident. The debate is over whether or not the story, setup, payoff, character history, and audience expectation were all dealt with to make the moment satisfactory. And it is in that debate that I find myself in some disagreement with Goyer and Nolan.

    While we’re on the Goyer/Nolan topic, Batman’s aversion to killing in Batman Begins was handled far more gracefully and with more specific meaning to the movie and character. In Man of Steel, it’s not something the movie particularly explores before or after it happens.

    As I’ve been saying, the instinct isn’t necessarily wrong. It is, however, a risky move and I don’t think they entirely pulled it off. That has just as much to do with other elements of the movie as the actual moment in the climax, though. There’s a reason Paul’s breakdown is more comprehensive than one action in the climax.

  16. @David

    But on the same hand, how is it fair to argue that it is immaterial that they specifically set it up to happen this way?

    “The movie doesn’t explain adequately enough the killing of Zod/Superman killing someone”

    “Yeah the writer/director/producer had a back and forth on it, they specifically left it undetermined as part of the ORIGIN STORY AS TO WHY HE HAS THAT CREED and also as future story space aka post John Byrne comics style”


    Obviously I’m being hyperbolic for comedic effort but this is pretty much what the argument is boiling down to. You can’t call an intentional plot device ‘wrong’ or a ‘failure’ when they did it exactly how they wanted to. It’s fine to not liek it, which Paul sums up quite nicely:
    “So that’s my major gripe with the film, and the one issue that stuck with me after the fact. It’s not a plot hole, which is the type of thing I’ll usually gripe about during a movie like this, but a thematic problem that made Superman struggle with an issue that wasn’t even all that important in the end, and then gloss over one that was much more significant.”

    It was an intentional ‘thematic’ problem they created to be addressed later on.

    1. I don’t understand how this was supposed to be intentional, saving the theme for AFTER the deed is committed? It makes far more sense with him to wrestle with the notion beforehand, but once it’s done? Is it going to scar him so badly he never wants to do it again? I don’t think that works as well in this context, considering who he killed and why he did it.

      Then again, I’ve always had a problem with this “heroes don’t kill for any reason ever” notion that plagues Batman and Superman specifically.

  17. @Chooch
    Because I have an issue with specifically designing a move to be thematically incomplete. Especially when you’re taking a character who is traditionally one the great pillars of comic book morality and knocking him off his pedestal.

    I’ve read too many great Superman stories that managed to make him interesting without ending on a note like that.

    And again, I simply didn’t feel that they built up to it or dealt with the aftermath enough.

  18. @ Paul

    I see where you are coming from but I don’t see it as being quite so black and white. It seems a lot of people wanted it to be that when Superman put on the cape it flipped a switch, and all of a sudden he is everything that Superman is. I find the alternate to be more compelling. This was literally Superman’s first day on the job. He was put in the toughest of positions and did what he thought was right in the spur of the moment. It doesn’t seem farfetched to me that guilt and reflection would lead him to the conclusion that he must never kill again. I know a lot of people wanted something like his stance against killing to be baked-in, but honestly I think it adds depth to the on-screen character. Not only that, but it makes it easier for me to sympathize with his ethos – which at times can be a little too good to relate to (this touches on your point of not being comfortable with the “hereoes never kill” idea – which is not something most casual moviegoers relate to and has become somewhat of a relic of comic book storytelling tropes). We are going to arrive in the same place – with a Superman who does not kill – so really we are quibbling over how he get there. I just think it is more interesting and relatable to show Superman growing into the cape and stumbling along the way.

  19. @David

    Sure, fair point, it’s not something you like. So can we stop calling it wrong or ‘not the REAL Superman’?

    He’s killed in the cartoons, comics and Donner films; it’s not new. If you don’t like it cause it feels incomplete, sure, I’d be fine with an extra 30 minutes that gives some more setup for the next movie (I myself have no issue with 3+ hr movies, YMMV). But the writer/director/producer are fully aware that they didn’t ‘deliver’ so to speak and the intentionally wanted to do that.

    I feel like it was a time/editing issue. I could certainly have done with less World Engine Tentacle beating and more emotional fallout of the deed. I am however perfectly ok with them devoting another movie towards that instead. Call it Man of Tomorrow and it’s Luthor’s rise to power and he uses everything from the first movie against Superman. Seems legit and it in order to get that from Snyder and Co., I have to forgo what feels like a little amateur mistake, I’m good with that.

  20. My feeling as well. I told my wife after the movie that it was a big point that was not presented properly. I think this really hits home to those who read the comic books. Superman’s no-kill code was so strong that in one of the DC iterations he gave Batman a lump of kryptonite to use against him if he turned bad or evil.

  21. To me, Costner’s reply to Clark of “maybe” when asked if he should’ve just let the kids die was not callous or selfish. I always interpreted it as the response of a dad who wasn’t sure what the right answer was to tell his son. All fathers face that with their children. I think Costner’s response had a slight twinge of frustration in it because the obvious answer is save the kids but there were other considerations regarding Clark’s heritage that he was protecting Clark from until he thought Clark was ready.

    On another note, while Costner’s death was moving, it lost some impact as it was in a way that Clark could have prevented. Losing his father as the result of a heart attack hits much more to home as that is something Clark couldn’t prevent (unless he spins the world in reverse).

  22. Sadly, I don’t reply to many topics on this site that I love visiting so dearly, but because I have such a huge love for anything Superman, I wanted to speak out on this topic.

    Concerning the act of Superman killing Zod in Man of Steel, I’ll echo some other comments on here in saying that it has happened before. In other iterations, even in the movie Superman II, Superman kills Zod. Speaking of that movie, in Superman II the act of killing Zod doesn’t even seem to bother Superman at all! He’s all smiles as he flies off with Lois and Lex Luthor in custody! It’s for that example alone that I get a little confused when people say that moment in the movie bothered them so much. Especially when they are trying to compare it to earlier, Christopher Reeve/Richard Donner’s version of Superman.

    I do agree somewhat on the topic of Pa Kent, though. The “death by tornado” would probably have been better if replaced by a heart attack or something that Clark Kent wouldn’t easily be able to rescue him from. But then again, I saw that moment as the part in Clark Kent’s life where he decided he would no longer sit by the sidelines when he could be out there saving people. I figured that flashback was shortly before he went out with the crab fishing boat and then actually risked public exposure so he could rescue those oil rig workers. To me, that was a pretty decent setup for motivation and emotional depth of Clark Kent.

    What I think a lot of you are forgetting is that this movie is a reimagining of the character of Clark Kent/Superman. He’s just not going to be the same as 1978 Superman in terms of the same “boyscout” theme. Today’s audiences in general would find that way too cheesy. Also, a lot of the deaths that happened in Metropolis (and probably some in Smallville I don’t remember) were on Superman’s “first day of work”. Has anyone here ever waited tables and know what it’s like to be “in the weeds”? Maybe it’s a bad analogy, but Superman was facing off against a superpowered group of people just when he was learning to be a Superhero. Plus, you save more people by eliminating the threat (Zod) instead of constantly going out of your way to save every single person he is about to harm.

    I really loved Man of Steel. Was it perfect? No. Was it perfect for me? Yes.

    For the most part, I like seeing all this discussion about Man of Steel. It shows that the movie at least had a memorable impact on so many of you. That’s much better than people just not giving a crap about the movie.

  23. Well i guess he could have just covered Zod-s eyes with his hand at the end? Or poke his eyeballs? Or maybe kindly ask Zod not to throw him into the populated building or something? Or maybe said to him: “Come on Zod, lets move this fight to an unpopulated area so we can’t hurt anybody”.
    Stop nitpicking, it was a great movie!

  24. While I had similar thoughts regarding many of these points, I also thoroughly enjoyed the film and it’s ending. Superman’s collateral damage to the city of Metropolis and his reluctant execution of Zod set up two future conflicts that I’d love to see explored:

    1- Lex Luthor, the man who “owns” Metropolis. It would make sense that Lex, the self-made man who seeks control and wishes to be thought of as a hero of the people, will resent the alien with god-like powers. Lex will hate this stranger for flying in to save the day while destroying so much of his city in the process- this also sets up him to control even more of Metropolis as his resources would likely be vital to the city’s restoration. He can use his power and influence to try and mold the city’s opinion against the “alien threat”.

    2- Batman. Imagine the possibilities when these two finally meet in a “World’s Finest” type film. Superman questions Batman’s methods, raising his objections to the sometimes brutal way he deals with criminals, but for the first time, BATMAN is the one with the moral high ground, as he’s never taken a life. Picture something like this:

    Batman arrives in Metropolis to investigate a lead. Superman confronts him on arrival, warning him that his ruthless tactics won’t fly in his city.

    Superman: Things are different here in Metropolis. I don’t believe in needlessly brutality, no matter who the enemy may be-

    Batman cuts him off-

    Batman: No, you just believe in executing them instead. I may have broken a few ribs- but I’ve never snapped a man’s neck.

  25. I’m more put-out by what they DID make time for at the end of the movie in lieu of addressing some of these issues.

    “Superman has just executed the main villian of the film after a battle that leveled Metropolis and cost countless lives. Should we have a scene that deals with these weighty issues and shows the audience the kind of hero that Superman will grow to become?”

    “Nah, too heavy. Instead let’s add a scene of him talking to his mom about getting a job, putting on glasses to assume the ridiculous Clark Kent persona even though numerous people throughout the film know Clark Kent=Superman, and also a random scene where he shoots down a drone to show the military that they shouldn’t follow him, but they can trust him. Also throw in a joke made by a female military officer about how hot he is.”

  26. Honestly, I really disliked Pa Kent in this movie. They made him half “Uncle Ben” with that ridiculous tornado situation and half religious zealot with his obsession over Clark, his powers, and him being a “savior”. At almost no point did he come off as a gentle, loving father figure to me.

  27. Nailed it on Jonathan Kent. As for the killing of Zod, if he had saved Lois instead, yeah, stakes would’ve been higher, but then we wouldn’t have known if Superman made that decision with his dick. As in, did he do it specifically for HER? Which wouldn’t have worked, because he had already saved her from the scape-pod and the film isn’t about whether Clark loves Lois at all. The fact that he did it for “nobodies” is an adequate display of his new-found humanity, and the previous collateral deaths don’t mean he’ll let a family get incinerated in front of him, come on. I think the scene wasn’t just about a no-killing policy, but also about the thin equilibrium beteween his new role as a protector and his years of painfully teaching himself restrain; plus the fact that he officially became the last Kryptonian alive, and even though he knew Zod killed his father, that’s got to have some emotional impact on the character.

  28. I thought the movie was a fantastic portrayal of what Superman needs to evolve to in order for us to accept him as part of a ‘good’ movie. Everything the ‘critics’ are whining about (no-punch mentality, goody boy scout, no-kill protector) was in the last movie. How did you guys like that one again? Oh right, everyone whined about that one as well. See, Mark, what you’re forgetting here is that it is Superman does kill. He takes every measure necessary to protect those that need defending. Every measure. He’s killed Titan, Doomsday, quite a few misbehaving Kyryptonians. He was even prepared to kill his friend Heather in the New 52, when she was possessed by an alien entity and was threatening a city of millions. In ‘Injustice’, he kills the Joker: “In this reality the Joker blew up a nuclear bomb in Metropolis, killing millions. The detonator was activated when Superman accidentally killed Lois Lane, who was pregnant with Clark’s child (Superman thought she was Doomsday because of an special variation of Scarecrow’s fear gas). Enraged, Superman then proceeds to fly to Joker’s position and forces his fist through Joker’s chest.”
    Though it may be an elseworld, the character of Superman remained static to what it was previously. What has been out of character was his smiling kill of Zod in Superman 2. That was ridiculous. However, in each of these aforementioned examples, he expressed deepseated regret and rage, as he felt that he had no other option. Why do you keep screaming for the writers to find alternatives when they’re simply writing of a man who faces demons? He is not a God that finds solutions to every problem. Supes lets people die all the time. He lets murders happen, Lex kills thousands everytime he unveils something, same with whenever a Kryptonian comes to town. In fact, in just about every incarnation, Jon Kent is dead. I’m sure Supes could’ve saved him in every possible scenario but would that have not been elevating him to the position of a God, rather than an alien attempting to fit into our world, who has powers that could easily destroy it whenever he wished, but is instead struggling to maintain morality and responsibility. Key word struggling. As long killing is a last resort, and he screams in anguish, and it doesn’t happen very often, I say it remains in character. But that’s just me.

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