So in honour of the new Justice League trailer, can I ask you what you feel are the top ten worst things about the DCEU movies so far?
*grins evilly, cracks knuckles*
Let’s get this one out of the way:
10. This fucking shot right here
“Pretentious” does not even begin to cover it. And that expression! I don’t have much nice to say about Henry Cavill in these movies, but I do enjoy his utter inability to hide his embarrassment at what he’s participating in at this moment.
9. The Why Did You Even Bother Club: Lois Lane, the Daily Planet, Rick Flag & June Moon, the media, the military, Congress…
Remember how The Avengers had this idea of Agent Coulson as the in-universe fanboy who understood the team better than anybody, and how the best part of Age of Ultron was the trip to Hawkeye’s farm? So why do the “human” elements of the DCEU feel so forced and stale?
8. Someone needs to go to jail for these action scenes
I thank the gods that I (unlike many of my friends) walked into Man of Steel sober, because Snyder’s destruction porn in that movie is a truly bad trip. Everything you need to know about the dude is in this juxtaposition: when he’s showing a building breaking apart, he wants you to see details, dammit, this is his canvas. When he has to cut to, y’know, humans, they’re dully shot and horribly lit, and his impatient desire to get to the next orgasmic splash-panel-shot is palpable. Elsewhere, the Doomsday sequence in BvS not only extends the plot far beyond its logical climax (the dictionary definition of overkill), it’s an unbelievably dull and drab nesting doll of mushroom clouds, pure headache-inducing sound and fury signifying nothing, my least favorite superhero throwdown on screen…until the Enchantress fight in Suicide Squad, which had me in tears in the theater, I was laughing so hard.
7. Pa Kent wants you and your children dead, you hear me? DEAD!
This may be the single worst aspect of Man of Steel specifically. I hate it on every level. I hate that Pa Kent spouts this BS, I hate that we’re supposed to take it seriously, I hate how it bogs down the post-Krypton story with no real weight or payoff (since we already know that Adult Clark is saving people by the time we get his Dad’s speech about not doing so), I hate that entire unbelievably dumb tornado scene, and I hate how freakin’ casual Snyder and Goyer are about death throughout this SUPERMAN STORY. Supes kills Zod, screams that scream…and then he’s downing satellites with a smirk, and biking through an apparently just-fine Metropolis, and hahaha look, glasses! Tone? Stakes? What are those? What was the point to him killing Zod other than Snyder getting that fetishistic close-up of the scream? Man of Steel was always going to be a bad movie, but this is where it became a Bad movie.
6. THIS IS KATANA
SHE’S GOT MY BACK
5. Batman v Superman is I Took Half a Philosophy Course, The Movie
Every single second of this insufferable thing is screaming at you to take it seriously. Every. Single. One. And it’s earned maybe 2% of the time, usually when it directly swipes a line from a comic. There’s nothing else to most of these scenes—just This Is Dramatic, with no attention put into the “this” from the basic “we need to care about these people” angle that Marvel generally has a lock on. The ambition falls flat. In particular, the worldbuilding sequences in BvS (the Injustice future, the Flash visitation, the videos of future JL members) constitute some of the clumsiest and most misguided scenes ever in a comic book movie, because they thoroughly ratfuck the tone, pacing, and focus in the most masturbatory manner imaginable outside of literal porn. (Has there ever been a less appropriate use of Exciting Pump-You-Up music than when Wonder Woman is…sitting at her laptop…watching QuickTime videos?)
4. Scene to scene, line to line, end to end, every storytelling decision in Suicide Squad is wrong
I don’t demand a movie make perfect logical sense for me to like it, and nitpicking about plot holes often aggravates me, because there are many more important things to making and watching movies. What I demand is that you not assemble your movie like a dozen different food-poisoning-induced fever dreams all happening simultaneously. When you have to literally actually reshow parts of your “villain launches their evil plan” sequence (kind of an important part of a comic book movie!) because it was so confusing and poorly communicated the first time through, you’ve lost any semblance of structural coherence. This isn’t clever nonlinear storytelling. This is an abysmal, abyssal editing fail. Honestly, given the garbage fire behind the scenes, Suicide Squad barely counts as a finished movie.
Final three slots reserved for the fatal performances. You know the ones.
3. How did you let Jared Leto keep doing this after day one
How did you not brain him with a shovel or something
2. Why, though
Why would you do this to us
And of course, at #1…
1. This ostensibly sentient block of granite you insist on calling Clark Kent
Ok, that’s not entirely fair. He’s poorly cast, written, and directed. The DCEU is fundamentally broken because its central character does not work. He’s got two modes–deadly boring and straight-up deadly–and neither is compelling. I’m far from the first to say it: this is a Superman for people who never liked Superman.
Well its that time of year again. Another DCEU movie is coming so I must revisit all the past movies in preparation for the new Wonder Woman coming on June 2. And I think I have finally realized yet another reason I LOVE these films. Now to begin I am not going to bash M*rvel or anything, all I will say is that their movies are the same tone throughout pretty much all of them including GOTG. Ok, that’s all I have to say about that, now onto the breakdown of what I just realized about DCEU.
So beginning with MoS, directed by Zach Snyder, you can tell this movie is told from the perspective of Clark/Superman. There is a filter to it but it is mostly bright and sunny, daytime, even for the fight scenes. Then the lowest point in the movie, when Metropolis is in ruin and Superman has had to kill Zod it is dark, its reflecting how dark Superman feels, how hopeless at that moment, because he couldn’t save Metropolis from destruction and he couldn’t save the last of his kind. Then he goes outside, sees Lois, sees the person who to him is pure, and good, and worth everything in the world. She is the reflection of the good of humanity to him and suddenly he sees hope, he sees a reason to fight on and try to stop this from happening again, suddenly, its brighter again, less hopeless. The movie ends on hope.
Next comes BvS, also directed by Zach Snyder and now we have shifted perspective from the getgo. This movie is Bruce/Batman’s perspective. It is dark, and gritty, and hopeless. He has been doing this for 20 years and seemingly has lost all light and good that was within him. He just does this now because he doesn’t know what else to do beyond take down bad guys and if there are some causalities, well that sucks but not like he is the one directly killing them. The whole movie is seemingly told at night except for the Superman scenes, but even those are a little darker, as if told through the eyes of Batman and how he sees Superman throughout the film. Then, at the end, the funeral of Superman and even more so at the funeral of Clark Kent, it is bright, Batman sees hope in the world again. He sees that he has been existing and not living, having forgotten why he became the Batman in the first place but the sacrifice Clark made reminds him that yes, there is still hope in the world, there is still good. The movie once again ends on hope.
Finally comes Suicide Squad, directed by David Ayer, is from the perspective of mostly Harley and Deadshot. They are the focus and I would argue the whole film is skewed to Harley’s perspective. We see its dark yes, but its so fun in the dark! This is bad guys at night who are out to kill some shit! This is told from the view of a woman who is mentally unstable and in love with someone who is abusive and doesn’t see it. This is a movie full of loud laughter, crazy music, and fight scenes that are made to be outlandish and fun more so than just dark violence. Harley thrives in this world and its completely different than the movies that came before it.
DCEU seems to be telling their filmmakers ‘hey look, these movies need to tie together so do that sometime but just make the movie you want to make about these characters, have fun with it, be yourself’ and I feel that will be continued in Wonder Woman. Love these movies or hate them they are unique entities that don’t seem to just rehash the same one-liners, themes, and tones. They are all different and let the filmmakers take the reigns for the most part. This is why I love the DCEU, I’m not getting the same movie over and over again, I’m getting a new one every time.
Ok, so I’ve only ever watched Man of Steel twice. The first time shortly after it came out and before I really got into DC Comics (and comics in general) and the second time was last week (after I’d received my DC TRASH accreditation). Granted last week’s viewing was dubbed in Bulgarian (b/c in Bulgaria we dub things… ugh) but my dad was watching and I saw what it was and sat my ass down immediately.
Anyway, the point of this post is to discuss the infamous and (for some puzzling reason) “problematic” scene of Superman killing Zod.
When people talk about this scene, specifically when they bitch about it by claiming that “this scene is the most un-superman thing ever omg how dare zack snyder!” they almost always fail to mention (gee I wonder why) the context of the scene itself.
Like in most discussions you see the discourse revolve around the killing, but how many times have you seen it discussed WHY Superman resorted to that? - Not many.
Like… You can’t say that Superman killing Zod is “out of character” and “the worst” when the only reason Superman did that was because Zod was about to barbecue a family of four innocent civillians who were cornered, defenseless, and absolutely fucking terrified. Superman tried to reason with Zod, resulting only in Zod trying harder to kill the family (i.e. actually shooting his laser vision at them, as opposed as just making them targets by looking at their direction as he did at first).
So Superman in a completely selfless Superman-way chose to save civilians rather than save his own species (i.e. something that would have benefited only him - where humans are concerned). He chose to bear the burden of killing because apparently he judged that he’d rather have that than the lives of innocents on his conscience (although, it can be argued that he was already feeling the weight of being responsible for people dying as the Kryptonian invasion started for the simple reason that he, too, is Kryptonian).
Like… What Superman did in this scene is literally what any other protagonist in any other action movie (be it CBM or not) would have done. We’ve seen it done countless times in movies and tv shows and yet Superman is the only person who gets shit for it… and for what? Some outdated, utopian, one-dimensional ideal in people’s head of who Superman is? That he’s the “perfect hero”?
The movie showing Superman’s flaws doesn’t make it a bad movie, it makes these people’s ideology flawed and it highlights that. Which in turn makes them uncomfortable, so rather than facing the idea that maybe there’s more to Superman than this happy-go-lucky nerdy can-do-it-all farmboy who fights crime, gets the girl, and is universally beloved (can you see people self-projecting on him though?) is actually capable of negative emotions and violence (as is every single person/character when pushed in the right way), they shit on the movie, the cast, and the creative minds behind the scenes (directors, script writers, etc).
Then again these are the same kind of people who believe that comics don’t exist outside the Golden/Silver Ages where all characters were funny and happy-go-lucky.
I say all of this as someone who doesn’t even really like Superman. The only version of him that I find interesting is that of the DCEU (or as I call him - SuperCavill) exactly because of this “picture perfect” hero everyone’s trying to sell him as.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Man of Steel as a movie. It just doesn’t hold your hand through the entirety of the Superman mythos and things make a lot of sense if one knows even the slightest bit of info about the Superman-lore. It can get confusing if you don’t (which was true for me the first time around), but that doesn’t make it a bad movie. Then again, “it doesn’t make sense” is like 98% of the BvS wank too.. when again, not true.
Anyone who says “Superman killing Zod is character assassination / out of character”, can promptly kiss my DCEU-Loving ass!
Putting aside for a moment the fact that Steven is the real issue here, this is now the second time Pearl has had a rather extreme reaction to the topic of Pink Diamond.
Even then I had a suspicion that Pink Diamond’s death affected Pearl personally, but now I’m almost sure of it. At the very least, she was almost certainly present when it happened. I don’t imagine she was separated from Rose very often (if at all) during the war. My primary theory is that Rose didn’t intend to shatter Pink Diamond, but was forced to in defense of Pearl (think Superman killing Zod in Man of Steel).
Whatever the case, something about all this is hitting Pearl unusually hard.
Unpopular opinion: Superman being an American icon that upholds the “American way” is an outdated concept and should not be used as an argument against the completely justifiable destruction in MoS as well as the killing of Zod
Another day, another anti-dceu article posted by Cracked, this time accusing dceu superman of being toxic masculine because he looked sad after people got blown up in a courtroom. These people are so far off the mark I cannot believe any of them actually do watch these movies.
I read it and I gave up on Them in that regard long ago. This is the same website that, only a few months ago, published an article asking why Bane kept Bruce alive in TDKR when he gave a fucking monologue about it so I don’t know what I expected. The same article also tried to make Clark killing Zod sound like some moment of needless cruelty designed to make him more ‘’edgy’’ when it’s A) canon in the comics and B) They completely ignore the context to make him sound like some cold-hearted murderer. Shit like this is why I think history will be kinder because some of the complaints are just plain objectively not true.
Every time They do an article about films or pop culture, I always dread the inevitable DCEU slam. It’s amazing because They’re amazing with social, political, historical and real-life stuff. But They suck at writing about stuff like films.
I should probably do some guidelines! Haha I have to say thank you for requesting this, I agree a definite lack of 2013 Clark Kent! Hope you like it!
“Clark!!” He was crumpled over on the floor and screaming out. You ran over towards him and knelt down, you slid you arms around him and he fell into your body. “Clark…” He started to shake and you held him close to your chest. You couldn’t think of the right thing to say so you stayed silent. Eventually he snaked his arms around you and hugged you back. He clung to your shirt and you bit your lip becoming overwhelmed with emotion on his behalf. The army officials started to flood in and you held your hand to motion that they wait; they spotted Zod’s body and stepped back a little. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” Clark muttered, his head buried in the crook of your neck. “You don’t reason to be sorry, you’ve saved us all Clark” you felt tears run down your neck where his face was and you sat down properly, Clark followed your movement and ended up in a heap on you. You motioned for the officials to move the body and when they lifted it Clark yelled out again. “Clark it’s okay!” You were definitely no match for his strength but you reached out to him anyway, he turned around as your hand touched his arm. “It’s over now” you carefully stood up. “I didn’t want to..”
“I know” he lowered his gaze. “I watched to protect them I never wanted to kill…kill him” he looked so hurt that you felt tears prick at your own eyes. “You did the right thing” he looked at you with a pained look. “Did I?” You threw your arms back around him and kissed the base of his his neck as that’s where your head reached. “Trust me” no one interrupted while he was holding you which you were grateful for. “Thank you (y/n)” he whispered. “There’s going to want to talk to you, fly out as soon as I let you go, okay? Go to your mom.” He shook his head. “Not without you.” You went to protest but before you could he shot up out of the building. You held onto him, closing your eyes as he headed home. He made sure to hold you flush against his chest as he approached his now destroyed home. “Clark!” His mother called. He set you down gently before being engulfed in her arms.
“Where will you both go now?” You asked as he say down next to you on the destroyed porch. “I’m going to work at the daily planet, mom will be okay” she had managed to salvage some clothes for him to change into and was now trying to see if there was anything else worth taking out. You leaned over and rested you head on his shoulder. “You saved the world Clark, you did what you had to do”
“I betrayed my home planet and it’s people”
“No, no don’t do this to yourself, your parents sent you here for a good reason they would be /proud/ of what you did.” He rested his head on top of your and his hand cautiously found yours, your fingers intertwining. “I’ll have to face the questions and officials soon”
“But not right now” he sighed. “They’ve decided I’m not a threat” you moved your free hand up to touch his cheek. “Good” he moved so he could face you and smiled ever so slightly. “What?” “Thank you (y/n)” you shrugged. “I didn’t do anything” he shook his head and leaned down to press his lips to yours briefly. “You did” he mumbled. “It’s going to be hard to get over this you know? But I’m here to support you, whenever you want to talk or distract your thoughts or anything you come to me okay?” He nodded and you chased his lips for another kiss. His forehead rested on yours and his eyes slowly closed. “Don’t feel guilty don’t let it eat at you Clark, you’ll see it’ll all finally work out” his mom came out of the wreckage and cleared her throat, you moved away from him and he pulled you back. “Ready mom?” She nodded and he stood up pulling you with him. “Let’s go”
It was 2am only one person would come to you at this time. You threw back the covers off your body and ran to the door, breathlessly swinging it open and a very distraught Clark stood there. It had been a couple of months now and he was still haunted by memories of killing Zod. “Come on” you held your hand out and he took it already sobbing. You pulled him into your house and lead him to the couch. You let him cry it out, rubbing soothing circles on his back with one hand and playing with the end of his hair at the nape of his neck with the other. After he had cried it out he sat up ever so slightly. “I’m sorry” “stop saying that” he leaned forward and you gently pressed your lips to his, his body immediately relaxed again. “Come on you need to sleep how long has it been since you slept?” You didn’t wait for a reply. “Actually I don’t want to know” he laughed quietly and you let him climb in the bed. You were facing each other, limbs tangled. “What was it this time Clark what happened?” You brushed a strand of hair from his face. “I felt guilty again, I felt mad at myself and at him for not listening” you pulled the covers over you both and breathed out softly. “You’ll get through this Clark, and I’m always going to remind you that if you had never done it then I wouldn’t be here right now, or your mom or any human, you saved 7 billion people” “at the cost of krypton” “was it a good price?” You questioned and he nodded. “To be here with you was alone worth it” you moved your eyes up to meet his and grinned. “Try and sleep, if you have a bad dream I’m right here beside you okay?” “Okay” he replied and kissed the top of your head.
It would be nice if people who whine "Superman is so out of character in Man of Steel because he kills Zod, doesn't save people, and wrecks a whole city!" can tell us HOW he's supposed to do everything perfectly without any destruction & casualties. They don't want the city to be destroyed & they want literally everyone in the movie to be alive just so Superman stays in character (but only if it's based on their criteria), but they refuse to tell us HOW can he do that
I’d counter with A) The city is not destroyed. Not even close, B) He killed Zod in Superman II and in the comics and Brainiac in Smallville and C) He saved people in his very first scene.
Not that I imagine any of this will make any difference to Their narrative.
I do see people sometime suggest alternatives but They’re invariably things that wouldn’t work. I sometimes see people say shit like ‘’He could have led Zod away from the city” (Even though Zod outright said that his goal was to wipe out the world to hurt Clark and They did enter space and Zod was the one who brought Them back to earth) and They say he could have turned Zod’s head slightly and wouldn’t have had to kill him (The fact that this would have give him an extra second and a half or so at the most isn’t mentioned). They never go into detail about what would happen next with a being who’s every bit as powerful as Superman and can’t be contained by any prison (Opening up the phantom zone again is not an option).
I once saw one of the more vocal ‘’Not MY Superman’’ people say that Superman is assumed to be able to do anything and that it’s the job of the film makers to tell the audience otherwise. Apparently They need to remind audiences that it’s not the silver age.
That complaint along with another I’ve seen that his killing Zod makes him too human when he’s supposed to be ‘’aspirational’’ epitomizes a lot of the noise about this. People are extremely attached to an idealized version of Superman, even when it hasn’t existed for decades, and refuse to let go of it and They don’t want a film where he’s depicted as a human even though They insist that he’s a person first and Superman second.
I’ve never understood why anyone would want a hero who is portrayed as being immeasurably above Them and who will never face the kind of tough situations They may face.
I think a big part of it is people trying to turn him into some escapist fantasy, doing exactly what They’ve always hated Batman fanboys for doing, and that’s not what Superman is about.
Can u talk to me about man of steel bc i just saw it for the first time and i loved it but a friend i value the opinion of v much said it was bad bc clark killed zod and destroyed metropolis and so on and now im :(
Man of Steel is an origin story in the best sense of the word because it doesn’t let Superman emerge fully formed as a public, assured figure by the end of the movie. It’s a purely character-driven story that throws an inexperienced, fearful young man with superpowers into the toughest fight of his life, against powerful, trained warriors who have the same powers he does. It strikes the bittersweet chord that defines Superman stories–the knowledge that even someone who is an absolute good, who only wants to help others, will not always be equipped to do so, especially in a cynical world that may not buy that his mission is a good one. But what defines this Superman is that he is the man who tries, in spite of all odds, and this movie is about him claiming that identity, which is an empowering move for him even when he can barely keep up with Zod.
What I love most about Man of Steel is that Clark spends so long resenting his powers, feeling confused and frightened and trying to live a normal, quiet life, helping people in the shadows, moving on the second he does something outside the normal bounds, but then he finds the courage to come out of hiding. He’s still trying to understand his powers, push their limits, figure out how to fight. Fight for peace, fight for his home, fight for Lois and Martha. He’s just a boy from Kansas, but he realizes that he’s more than that, and thus has the responsibility to stand up for Earth when it’s threatened.
And that makes the Zod fight so interesting–because on the one hand, Clark gives his all to protect Earth, deliberately choosing to save the lives of one human family over Zod, his last connection to his history and his people, but on the other hand, his powers aren’t refined, and there’s a lot of collateral damage while he’s trying to stop Zod from destroying the entire Earth. It’s understandable from where he’s at in his character arc, and it’s heartbreaking to see Clark try his hardest and still not quite know what to do. The destruction of Metropolis is not Clark’s fault, but it’s not not his fault, and the movie showcases the fallout on a human level. The damage leads us directly in Batman v. Superman, which questions Clark’s role in the damage and whether his interference in human affairs can ever be justified.
The first time I saw Man of Steel, I was surprised that they went directly into Kryptonian lore, that Zod was the first enemy Clark faced. It felt like something we usually see superhero franchises build up to; you start off small, you give your heroes victories and confidence, and then you ramp up the stakes each time. But by starting with Zod, the characters in the DC universe all get to see and understand–on a visceral level–the full extent of Clark’s abilities and all the awe and fear they inspire. Clark’s next villain isn’t someone bent on world destruction, but someone who wants Clark to continue questioning his values, which is a bigger yet more intimate arc, an internal dilemma that continues Clark’s fear and uncertainty that we see in MoS. I love love love how quiet and careful Clark is in these films, someone we can see deliberating his every move, weighing the risks. Basically nothing about the Superman mythos is taken for granted–Clark is sweet, but he’s not naturally open or confident; Clark is powerful, but he’s not naturally skilled in combat or comfortable fighting anyone head-on; Clark wants to help, but he slowly (especially over BVS) starts to wonder if he should, not just because of Lex’s manipulation, but because good people raise those questions, and Clark values them enough to do some soul-searching about what it means to be Superman.
Everything introduced in Man of Steel has an impact on the characters on a psychological level. That moment after Clark kills Zod, he’s horrified, and he immediately looks to Lois for emotional support, because even if he knows he had no other choice, even if he knows he probably saved a life, it still hurts him immensely. He needs Lois to help him through it. The weight of his decisions are so evident and so much a part of the narrative, and that’s so rewarding to see. It feels fresher than the way a lot of superhero films handle it, where we basically build up the conflict of the hero not wanting to kill and then finding a way out of it at the last minute, or constantly worrying over their significant other and not wanting to be with them, or not wanting to be a superhero anymore but feeling called out of complacency. There’s just a formula these things usually use, but MOS and BVS just … do it. They let the heroes make decisions and the decisions have an effect on them and on the world. Nothing returns to the status quo at the end of the movie. The heroes don’t get to rest easy knowing they’ll win, or knowing they can start fresh. They just get to fight through it. I love that, I treasure it. It makes every victory feel so earned and so real and genuine and it makes me cry.
Listen, the scene that really fucks me up the most in bvs is right after Supes’ confrontation with Lex, and he finds Lois. He *literally* looks like he’s going to be sick. He tells Lois that Martha is going to die unless he can convince Batman to help him. Otherwise, Clark will have to kill him, and as he’s saying this, HE LOOKS LIKE HE IS GONNA VOMIT. When he killed Zod, he didn’t think he’d actually have to. He wanted to do anything but take someone’s life with his own hands. Zod left him the choice of killing him, or allowing Zod to kill innocent people, AND CLARK! CHOSE! EARTH! And Zod’s death clearly effected Clark, like he was utterly devastated to use his own two hands to take this equally powerful being’s life.
NOW, he has to once again face the possibility of killing someone else. But not someone equally as powerful. No. At the end of the day, no matter his skill set and incredible mind, Bruce is a human being. Clark even says it himself later that, “if [he] wanted it, [bruce] would be dead already. Bats honestly would have no fucking chance if Superman wanted him gone. Lucky for him, Superman isn’t built that way. That entire scene with Lois perfectly captures Superman, in that the thought of killing someone MAKES HIM ILL. It’s WRECKING him, and I just will never get over it.
The world doesn’t deserve Superman, but luckily he doesn’t care about what the world deserves. All he cares about are the people in it.
Okay nope, Thomas Astruc called N52 Superman and Man of Steel crap. HE IS CANCELLED IN MY FUCKING BOOKS. NOPE SORRY.
80s Superman is great but GODDAMN THOMAS GET ON WITH THE FUCKING TIME. N52 LITERALLY HAD SUPERMAN ADDRESSING POLICE BRUTALITY, LIKE GODDAMN, YOU CAN’T TELL A ASIAN SUPERMAN FAN LIKE ME THAT ME LIKING MODERN ADAPTATIONS OF SUPERMAN MEANS THAT IT’S CRAP
His foe had gone the way of Krypton, but Superman wasn’t sure he would ever forgive the Zod for making the hero the instrument of his death. Anguish tore at Superman’s heart; he had always sought to save lives, not take them. Killing Zod took a terrible toll on him. His shoulders slumped as he stood above the body, feeling both emotionally and physically drained.
He really was the Last Son of Krypton now, he realized.
Man of Steel has been criticized for being too dark, classified as a one of the gritty, “realistic” superhero stories that I am usually the first person to pan. But I love Man of Steel, precisely because I don’t think it really belongs in that category.
It’s been said that the movie would have been better, more hopeful, if Superman could somehow have saved the day without Metropolis suffering so much destruction or without having to kill Zod. And that certainly would have made the movie more lighthearted, perhaps more fun. But lighthearted and fun is not the only way for a superhero movie to be good, and I don’t think a death-and-destruction-free version of the story would necessarily have been more hopeful.
The world in which Man of Steel takes place has a lot of darkness in it. There are high school bullies who pick on kids who don’t fit in. There are misogynistic jerks who sexually harass waitresses. There are people who fear what they don’t understand. There are senseless destructive forces of nature like tornadoes. There are fanatical killers bent on genocide like Zod. There is collateral damage.
But what keeps this story firmly out of grimdark territory is how much good exists in this world as well.
There are butterflies and whale songs and polar bears. There are majestic landscapes and sunbeams breaking through the clouds and raindrops falling gently in a bucket. There are people who will take in a foundling child and raise him with love. There are people who will choose to trust. There are people who will overcome their fears and change their initial opinions. There are people who will stand up and fight an enemy far more powerful than themselves in order to protect others. There are people who are willing to die so that others may live.
The destruction wrought upon Metropolis is horrifying. But in the midst of this destruction we see Perry White do everything he can to get his employees to safety. When Jenny becomes trapped in the rubble, Perry and Steve Lombard do their best to get her out. And when that proves impossible, rather than flee, they choose to stay with her, so that she does not have to die alone. And that choice, reaching out to hold the hand of someone who is scared, staying with them to the very end, is so much more powerful than the destructive force of the world engine.
There is death and destruction and evil in the world. But there is love and courage and goodness, too. Superman thinks our world is worth saving. There is hope.
Because that’s what hope really is. It’s not an escapist fantasy world free from suffering and death. To hope is not to believe the world is without darkness. It is to acknowledge all the evil in the world, and yet to see all the good, too, and to believe that the good is worth more. Likewise, to be a hero is not to prevent every evil - if that were the case, then heroes could never exist. To be a hero is to do good, to defend others, to help them, in any way you can, even if all you can do is hold their hand.
Man of Steel is not a fun, lighthearted action-adventure movie. It addresses weighty issues using a sort of sci-fi magic realism. The story does not shy away from darkness, but it is not a dark story. It is a story about how we confront that darkness. It is a story about hope, in a way that a more lighthearted movie could not be, because it is in the face of such darkness that our need for hope is strongest.
So I decided to watch Man of Steel again and I just wanted to talk about the scene when Clark snapped Zod’s neck…
Okay, so a lot of complaints I’ve heard deal with the fact that Superman kills him, which is a valid concern. However, Superman and Zod are equals in this scene. He is BEGGING Zod to stop and Zod won’t. He’s put Clark in a position where he HAS to choose between an innocent family and this person who is ultimately trying to destroy humanity. And so Clark kills Zod. Not out of hatred and rage, but in order to save not just one innocent life but a whole family.
I don’t know about you, but if Superman decided to let that family die, I would be concerned that this isn’t the Superman I know, who lacks the conviction to do what is right. And even after saving this family, he isn’t happy. He cries put in anguish and is utterly distraught.
Also, people are constantly praising the Dark Knight trilogy, and while it’s amazing, I think people forget that Bruce killed in that. He pushed Harvey Dent which resulted in a broken neck. That was Batman who killed him. That blood is on his hands.
On a similar note, remember Superman II? Superman killed Zod in that one too. You know, he smashed his hand and then threw him into a pit. That killed him. And after that, Superman wasn’t in anguish because of it. He just kind of shrugged it off.
I will never understand the criticism for Superman’s choice to kill Zod.