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mygif

I don’t know that the JLU comparison holds up here for a few reasons:

1) That episode was a literal culmination — not only of the series, but of both Superman’s rivalry with Darkseid. Even in canon terms, that fight was years in the making. The execution of Zod in the Byrne title also carried that kind of weight.
2) Yes, there’s people left in the city, but we see people being evacuated during the larger battles against the Apokolips invaders. Moreover, there’s a history of Superman using his powers to shift the battle away from populated areas as best he can.

None of that was present in this new iteration of the character. And it’s a bit presumptuous of Nolan/Goyer/Snyder (Three Dog Nihilism?) to say, “We’ll address that in the next flick,” particularly in light of that tone-deaf scene progression following the museum sequence. I have to agree with Mark Waid here: this movie left me cold — that’s a good selling point for an Authority movie, but not Superman, sorry.

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mygif

and yet no-one complained when Superman 2 Zod was depowered, had his hand crushed into powder and was tossed down a bottomless pit in the Arctic.

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It’s more likely it wasn’t as easy for those who objected to get their points across. But anyway, audience viewpoints have grown more diverse since that movie was released. If we were still going by those standards this movie would probably have been lily-white in its casting.

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mygif

The movie wouldn’t have been as well-regarded more than three decades later if that kind of issue was a deal breaker.

Playing devil’s advocate here, I also think the expectations of a movie audience and the comics audience are different.

Take the Joker. If a movie villain comes into a city and racks up the kind of bodycount you’d associate with the more prolific serial killers in the space of a few days, then the audience expects them to pay for it in kind. In comics, well it’s a Joker story and since the Joker killed twenty people last time, he has to kill thirty this time or what’s the point?

In comics we have to accept Batman’s self-righteous justifications for not killing The Joker because we like Joker stories and if he’s dead there can’t be any more.

In movies, well there isn’t likely to be more than one Joker story before he’s rebooted, so why not give audiences what they want?

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Bass Wakil said on June 18th, 2013 at 11:33 am

The Zod choice would’ve worked fine if they’d set up that Superman really doesn’t want to kill anyone, rather than never, ever do anything about it. It’s not an inherently bad choice, but the film’s major problems lay in it spending too long trying to explain little tidbits like where the leotard comes from and not actually building up character motivation, which is why it was so lifeless, unfortunately.

Basically, you take this film and mash it with SUPERMAN RETURNS and you end up with a pretty good film. Neither repeats the others’ failures… nor its successes.

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JCHandsom said on June 18th, 2013 at 1:15 pm

“When Superman kills Zod it’s not because he wants to kill Zod (and this is something Batman Begins couldn’t be bothered to do)”

I’m sorry if I’m missing something here, but Batman didn’t kill Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins. Batman didn’t kill him, he just didn’t save him, which is quite different in my opinion.

Look at it this way; if Batman chose to save hostages from a bungled robbery instead of stopping a mugging-turned-murder down in an alley, is he responsible for the death of the victim? Better put, did Batman kill that person by choosing to go and save those hostages. I’d say no, the mugger-turned-murderer did.

Now take the scenario from the movie; Batman could go and help save innocent people from Scarecrow’s fear gas or he could use that time to save Ra’s from the train. Batman chose to leave Ra’s on the train to go help Gotham, and Ra’s died. I don’t think that makes him responsible for Ra’s death; I think Ra’s is responsible for Ra’s death because he jacked the controls of the Monorail to ram into Wayne tower at 50 mph.

Now, back to Superman. I agree with you that the way Superman reacted to Zod’s death felt genuine and that the scene worked as a whole. In fact the more I think about it the more I think that was one of the best scenes in the movie, if just for the fact of how memorable and thought-provoking it was. However, in terms of faithfulness to the character, I wanted to ask a question.

Would Superman, the character, straight up kill someone if it meant saving someone’s life then and there, like this movie portrays? I’m not intimately familiar with the character, so I don’t know of any prior precedents. Is it a case of “it depends on the writer”, or is it like Kirk’s “No-Win Scenario”, where they always circumvented the issue with a clever third option?

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JCHandsom said on June 18th, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Oh, one more thing on the Zod death thing. I was reading comments on a a podcast episode the guys at Overthinkingit.com (yes, it’s a real website, and yes it is awesome) did for Man of Steel, and part of one of the comments really struck me and I thought it would be interesting to share it.

“I’m not some comic book purist who can’t stand the idea of Superman killing under any circumstances, but I am a guy who likes to have something to cheer for. I want my super heroic crowning moment of awesome. I wanted a skyscraper to be about to crush a thousand people, and then Superman saves them by putting a huge cruise ship in the way at the last moment. What are the moments where you could cheer for this Superman? What did he do that took your breath away?”

-Matthew Belinkie

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Elijah Fly said on June 18th, 2013 at 1:37 pm

this is essentially how I feel about the movie. Superman isn’t perfect and infallable, he just tries his best. and from here, I can see the superman that ‘should’ exist, but it feels like he earned. He realizes he needs to best, but he can’t always. Perhaps he needs friends, a league, if you will, to help him fight for justice.

Ma and Pa Kent actually feel like small town farmers this time. and Pa Kent is the most important part of Superman’s origin, because OF COURSE he is. Jonathan Kent raised him. Superman didn’t just room with these two for 18 years, these are his true parents.

and what’s key here, this superman caused the extinction of his species to save his home, friends, and family. this is huge, and should be pretty damn important from here on out. I can really buy this guy building a fortress of solitude, detailing every last thing. finding any tiny slice of kryptonian stuff is important, and finding the bottle city of Kandor or kara el is the goddamn miracle it SHOULD be.

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mygif

“What are the moments where you could cheer for this Superman?”

The audience at my screening was especially appreciative of when Superman explained, while handcuffed, that if he was submitting to mankind’s authority, he had to submit. Like, it was a bit of a funny line and Cavill delivered it with exactly the right amount of good-natured humour, but it also underscored that Superman is a really good guy.

But I think the quote is telling because it feeds into the Superman-specific power fantasy, which is to be both massively powerful and universally loved/trusted. I certainly agree that Man of Steel doesn’t deliver on that level.

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Candlejack said on June 18th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I enjoyed the movie and didn’t particularly have a problem with Zod’s death. But I ran across this quote from Snyder that just made me say ‘What the fuck?” out loud:

“I guess for me–and in the original version of the script he just got zapped into the Phantom Zone–David and I had long talks about it and Chris and I talked long about it and it was like, ‘I really think we should kill Zod and I really think Superman should kill him,’” Snyder explained. “And the why of it was, for me, that if it’s truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained. It’s just in his DNA. I felt like we needed him to do something, just like him putting on the glasses or going to the Daily Planet or any of the other things that you’re sort of seeing for the first time that you realize will then become his thing. I felt like, if we can find a way of making it impossible for him–like Kobayashi Maru, totally no way out–I felt like that could also make you go, ‘Okay, this is the why of him not killing ever again, right?’ He’s basically obliterated his entire people and his culture and he is responsible for it and he’s just like, ‘How could I kill ever again?’”

Why does Superman’s aversion to killing have to be explained? Why can’t he just be a dude who values life as a default?

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mygif

He’s basically obliterated his entire people and his culture and he is responsible for it and he’s just like, ‘How could I kill ever again?’

So instead of making him Superman, they gave him Lobo’s backstory with Spider-Man’s guilt problems?

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mygif

Another problem with that Snyder quote:

if we can find a way of making it impossible for him–like Kobayashi Maru, totally no way out–I felt like that could also make you go, ‘Okay, this is the why of him not killing ever again, right?’

The problem is, part of what makes Kirk Kirk is that he manages to beat the test. Yeah, he cheats, but not only does that tell us he’s willing to gamble, we find out that he can’t face death, which only gives more weight to the deaths of Spock and his son. So it delivers on multiple levels.

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@ Candlejack: It doesn’t necessarily need to be explained, but it does need to be established, and it isn’t. From the start of the Metropolis fight, if not the Smallville fight (“You don’t threaten my mother!”), its clear that these two are going to go toe-to-toe for the rest of the movie. Weeping and clutching Lois after killing Zod makes sense if we plug in everything we know from the comics and previous movies. In the context of this otherwise emotionally subdued movie, it seems very out of place.

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Also, about the destruction of Metroplois, for me, its not about “why he doesn’t save everybody, everywhere?” Its “going forward, what can credibly threaten him now?” What threat could possibly warrant a Justice League? Once you’ve killed Space-Satan, where do you go from there?

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@Kaisius Simple. Superman is captured, as part of a larger plan (I favour it involve cloning him, so we get a Bizzaro). The rest of the heroes have to break him out and stop whatever is going on.

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I haven’t seen the movie yet. I probably will eventually because I see most superhero movies but the director, trailers, and reviews don’t leave me very optimistic.

The issue of killing in a Superman story is tricky. I can’t say “Superman does not kill” the same way I would with Spider-Man or Batman because it simply isn’t true. He will kill but only as a last resort. Zod is certainly the kind of villain I can see him exhausting all other options with and don’t have any problem with Clark killing him and then feeling awful about it. I’m just not sure that’s a tone you want to set in a movie that’s intended to be a reintroduction to the character; this is something you do in the second or third part of a trilogy after making a point of establishing that the hero doesn’t kill a lot of people who “deserve” it because Superman is about saving people, not hurting them.

Its satisfying to see the bad guy pay the ultimate price for their crimes and I know comics can’t do that (and have it stick) because, even though “Death by Cop” is the only ending to a Joker story that makes any sense (forget Batman; why hasn’t some beat cop killed the clown?), they want to recycle the marketable characters. Movies don’t have that limitation so they tend to go the other route. I think that actually does a disservice to the source material; is it really a “comic book movie” if they aren’t playing by the comic book rules…even the silly nonsensical ones. Plus I worry that we’ll never get a proper movie version of the Thunderbolts, Masters of Evil, Sinister Six, Legion of Doom, or Suicide Squad if they keep killing the antagonists in every comic film.

PS: At least it wasn’t another Lex Luthor real-estate scheme.

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Speaking of the trailer…in the movie did Pa Kent actually imply that his son should let a bus full of kids die to preserve his secret identity or was that just misleading trailer editing? If it actually happened in the movie then I’m still more bothered by THAT than Zod’s fate.

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Speaking of the trailer…in the movie did Pa Kent actually imply that his son should let a bus full of kids die to preserve his secret identity or was that just misleading trailer editing?

A little bit. Pa Kent isn’t saying “let the kids die” – he’s saying “your emergence will be the most important thing the human race will ever experience and if we screw that up it will cost everybody much more than a busload of dead kids.” The point was that he was telling Clark to be careful about his impact, not “fuck them kids.”

Pa Kent also sacrifices his life later on to protect Clark’s secret for much the same reason.

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I’m mostly in agreement with MGK, especially when it comes to the cast in general and Lois in particular.

I’ll have to disagree on the cartoon to real life comparison. I don’t think cartoon violence has the same emotional impact as real life violence for pretty obvious reasons – it’s not nearly as traumatizing to watch a person in the movies get shot Tarantino-style with gaping holes in their chests as it is to watch Bugs Bunny get shot by Daffy Duck. It’s the same thing in video games – it feels different to mow down a ton of photorealistic video game enemies than NES-era sprites.

I also think Chris Sims’ ComicsAlliance review, for what it gets wrong (the rocket is not a bomb, for example) does hit the nail on the head when it comes to Zod. If Zod proclaims that he has to die and Superman ups and kills him, then in a way he’s proving the villain right. I think you could cut the entire last fight and not lose anything. Superman has already chosen Earth over the ghost of Krypton that’s haunting Zod, when he downs Zod’s craft.

Nothing new about Zod’s character or Superman’s is revealed that I particularly cared for in the final fight, and that fight’s where all the most egregious carnage is. Superman rescuing people in the Smallville fight lets the Army realize he’s their friend, and that combined with the flashback illuminates how Superman’s best victories are where he convinces the enemy to reconsider their actions. The fight against the World Engine exemplifies said teamwork, sacrificing something of Superman’s to stop Zod and putting Superman at unique risk simply because he’s able to get to the Indian Ocean engine faster. This last fight doesn’t have any of that. I wonder if I could make a cut of the film that excises that fight and it’d work better.

The fact that so much of the time we seem to be talking about totally different movies tells me that the editing and pacing wasn’t quite there yet, and that maybe it could have stood to have had either fewer beats or a longer running time. We’ll see how the inevitable extended cut holds up.

Still, I can’t hate the movie. People remind me of its best parts every day. I especially think that it has the best last two lines in a superhero movie, ever. And the fact that they intend the final moment to be the foundation of Supermans’ commitment to “there’s always another way” tells me that the second movie at least will attempt to honor that.

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Elijah Fly said on June 18th, 2013 at 7:26 pm

and let’s get down to brass tacks about the ‘third option’. it’s put Zod back in the phantom zone where he can return for an inevitable sequel, likely playing second fiddle to Lex Luthor. oh noes, Luthor got all the villains together for a justice league fight! Zod is, (and should), be important than that.

to kill or not to kill is a very real struggle now, not something that just comes easy to Superman, like people who don’t like superman see him. Nothing he does is easy is the point.

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Sean D. Martin said on June 18th, 2013 at 7:48 pm

internet people have been complaining that the collateral damage/destruction was unSupermanly. To which I say: oh, please:

Why, yes, that is a ludicrous amount of property damage in an area that clearly still had people in it and Superman concentrating on beating up the baddie, but I guess that since this is a cartoon therefore it is totally different on some moral scale somehow.

Your reasoning makes absolutely no sense.

So, because Superman once ignored collateral damage in one depiction, folks aren’t allowed to object to him ignoring it in any other depiction?

You know, I once read a story where Captain America had no problem with blacks being treated unfairly because they were black. I guess that means I never get to point out when a writer has Cap acting in an uncharacteristic way ever again.

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Sean D. Martin said on June 18th, 2013 at 7:57 pm

What Man of Steel does is not portray a Superman who is ridiculously uncautious, callous or uncaring. I mean, the guy is fighting a genocidal madman who is more dangerous than he is – … and I think the film was right to present that and not flinch from the fact that an awesome super-fight would, by necessity, include “awe” in it.

But he wasn’t particularly caring. Yes, he was fighting a genocidal superhuman and when superhumans of that level clash there WILL be a lot of body parts all over the place. Unavoidable. But… there should have been at least some indication that Superman was aware of the damage and trying to make some effort to limit it.

I’m not asking for a lot of him turning his back on the obvious danger of Zod to help rescue some kitten caught in a tree. But at least one place where he threw Zod that way instead into the nearest building, or maybe one attempt at saving someone that doesn’t pan out and then he gets that the best way to save the most is to focus all on Zod.

If nothing else, it would have made the, uh, goatfucking more effective. Following him having no noticeable reaction to all the destruction around him (“Sure, didn’t notice the acres-wide killing field I’m standing in ’cause I’m getting some action from this girl here.”) it din’t seem that much of a reach for him to fuck that goat.

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shadeedge said on June 18th, 2013 at 8:01 pm

Zod’s death is just a writing issue, though. I can buy that Superman in other depictions would, in fact, kill someone – he’s just never placed in that kill-or-thousands die situation, or he is but there’s actually a third way out. All the movie does is make it an actual dilemma. Superman’s character isn’t actually changed at all, he just gets his principle-maintaining writer’s freebie lost.

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Woodrow "asim" Jarvis Hill said on June 18th, 2013 at 8:15 pm

Its satisfying to see the bad guy pay the ultimate price for their crimes

And yet, a large part of the Internet backlash, I think, is that the catharsis element of Zod being killed is not part of it. And that’s what saves the scene, in my eyes.

Play it back. Note how it’s very, very far from a triumph scene, or even a “it must be done” POV. Rather, Clark screams, does the deed, and then grieves.

These are not the actions of a hero who’s won a battle. And we, the audience, get no satisfaction from the act. Contrast with Byrne’s scene where he had Superman kill the 3 Zoe criminals. There was far more of a set-up around it, and thus it settled with the viewer (at least a much younger version of myself) much easier — a direct moral choice to do what he must, rather than this movie’s act of desperation and fear.

The criticism from me, in part, is that they don’t sell it with a real lead-in to Clark’s inner process around these issues until that point; there’s a lot of really cool allusions to his moral code, but there was a need to make it more explicit before hitting that point, I think. Moreover, the tone of the following scenes hurts the impact of that one — which contributes to the criticism, and rightly so.

But, again, compared to SUPERMAN II’s climax, it’s a thousand times better as an isolated scene.

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The JLU scene has Superman punching Darkseid from an empty street into another empty street, through several presumably empty buildings, prefaced by a speech about how careful he is about preserving life. It’s not remotely the same just because there happen to be bystanders blocks away in one shot.

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In the end, I feel, a lot of what is causing the backlash is that the Snyder/Goyer/Nolan triumvirate is trying to have it both ways. They’ve set up this movie as being an inspiring and hopeful story with the most iconic superhero out there, but they’ve also made it clear from interviews that they want people to question the wholesale destruction going on. They want to ask the question if the world really needs Superman , and all that that entails… in short, they want to deconstruct the myth of Superman, whilst attempting to cater to, and create, that myth.

And that’s why I think some people are getting so mad. There’s nothing wrong with either of these ideas, but to put them both in the same movie is a mistake. It takes as much effort to build a myth in a convincing way as it does to tear it down, and to attempt to do both in one film makes everything a bit too schizophrenic. People are led by the numerous trailers and promos to think that they’re going to get an inspirational story about someone struggling against impossible odds and then beating them spectacularly… only to find themselves seeing somebody who should, by rights, be more capable of choosing a third option then most, be beaten down by his adversaries and forced into a choice between his values and the deaths of others, and choosing to cross that line himself. Not really very inspiring, is it?

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I know it’s a little off-topic but I liked the meta way that Iron Man 3 dealt with killing villains in movies. The public is calling for the Mandarin’s head and Stark – having nearly lost a friend – is eager to give them what they want. It turns out things aren’t what they appear, the villains turn on each other, the Mandarin survives, the true mastermind is killed by his hostage, and the hero feels responsible for the mess that the villains created. Nothing really would have been gained from Iron Man killing the Mandarin on a worldwide broadcast but its clearly what the masses (both in the universe and in the audience) wanted in the beginning.

Of course it loses some impact when you consider how many villains DID die in the Iron Man movies.

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MonkeyWithTypewriter said on June 18th, 2013 at 10:16 pm

And that all of Zod’s destruction is Superman’s fault, admittedly indirectly. I do however, agree with MGK. Let’s say Clark doesn’t kill him. What does he do with Zod? Good luck imprisoning him.

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DistantFred said on June 18th, 2013 at 11:55 pm

I generally liked Man of Steel… but my biggest problem with it was that it was too much, too soon. For the first movie in a series, for the first outing of Superman AS Superman, there was too much destruction, and too much, as Jim Smith put it, goat fucking.

That is really the big difference between World of Cardboard and Man of Steel. The former was essentially the LAST fight in the DC Animated Universe, the culmination of like 5 years of Justice League, of 4 seasons of Superman’s cartoon. Of a conflict that had previously soured Superman’s good standing and led to multiple conspiracies being launched targeting him. It was the big payoff designed to outdo the previous season’s ‘Lex Luthor merges with Brainiac and defeats the Justice League’.

Another analogue that fits is the Death of Superman fight with Doomsday, which was again, an instance of Superman going all out against a seemingly unstoppable enemy, while Metropolis gets utterly wrecked. But again, it’s a VETERAN Superman doing it, and it was being done immediately after Brainiac invaded the city with an army of aliens…

Man of Steel is starting OUT at that point. Superman’s FIRST outing, ever, leads to the near destruction of Metropolis, and Superman fucking a goat. If these were the events of like, the third movie? It would have been pretty acceptable. By starting out that big, they have way less room to grow. Sequels, by their nature, have to be as big or bigger than their predecessors, or else face unfavorable comparisons. By smashing up Smallville and Metropolis that bad, in a way that was in some ways unavoidable, they have to either bust it up just as bad next movie, or something equally awful. To say nothing of what they would need to pull off to justify a Justice League movie.

All that said, I do feel that Man of Steel set up a Superman universe very, very well. There is plenty of room to build on this movie in sequels. The destruction of Metropolis gives plenty of xenopohbic motive to Lex Luthor as a future antagonist, and the wreckage of the Scout Ship, World Engine, and Zod’s corpse gives him plenty of opportunity to reverse engineer Kryptonian tech and genetics. (Allowing, say, Bizarro, or Metallo to show up as his goon squad. Particularly if they decide to implement Kryptonite as a byproduct of the World Engine). They came just short of outright canonizing a movieverse Daxam… and there’s plenty of room for aliens aplenty in a universe where Kryptonian colonies were outfought by somebody, so they could easily justify doing Brainiac in a movie, without forcing him to strangle polar bears. And that could bring in Kandor and redeem Kryptonians who aren’t Zod or the Council.

Heck, there’s even room in the movie to justify Ruin, in that they banished Emil Hamilton to the Phantom Zone.

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Pantsless Pete said on June 19th, 2013 at 8:14 am

I have absolutely no issue with Superman killing people nor, in all honesty is it a betrayal of the character.

He’s not Batman, for whom never killing is a huge deal, he’s just a profoundly decent guy. He’s not going to go out and go all Punisher on people and he’s going to do his best not to kill people but occasionally, it’s going to happen or need to be done and occasionally, he’s the only one who’s going to be able to do it.

I mean, he grew up on a farm so it’s not as if he’ll flinch at it.

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Pennyforth said on June 19th, 2013 at 9:23 am

@Candlejack

“Why does Superman’s aversion to killing have to be explained? Why can’t he just be a dude who values life as a default?”

For the same reason that film Faramir had to be tempted by the lure of the Ring before allowing Frodo to continue his quest, at odds with the Faramir that Tolkien wrote who had the strength of character to resist that temptation from the beginning.

For the same reason that film Caspian allowed the summoning of the White Witch before rejecting her aid, at odds with Lewis’ Caspian who rejected the notion out of hand and condemned those who suggested it.

Because modern Hollywood believes that filmgoers will not accept an inherently good individual. A person must be tempted, come close to falling to that temptation, and then reject it, supposedly coming out the better for it–or, that person must succumb to that temptation, regret it, and spend the rest of their days doing good in restitution. Somehow, the notion has become ingrained that it’s simply not enough that someone does the right thing because it’s the right thing to do….which may explain why I tend to be uninterested in many films these days, including Man of Steel.

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Let’s say Clark doesn’t kill him. What does he do with Zod? Good luck imprisoning him.

(A) Toss him back into the Phantom Zone.
(B) Exile him to another planet and take away his spaceship.
(C) It was made rather explicit within this movie that subjecting Kryptonians to a Krypton-like atmosphere removes their powers, yellow sun or no. Build a cell that does so.

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Elijah Fly said on June 19th, 2013 at 10:41 am

A) no possible way to throw zod in the phantom zone.
B) how does superman take him to another planet? especially while both are powered up? How would superman get back?
C) all the terraforming tech is destroyed/pulled into the phantom zone. what kryptonian tech remains is scrapped, and no one knows how to possibly operate. reverse engineering such tech would take decades (presuming Luthor doesn’t get a hold of it first).

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A) no possible way to throw zod in the phantom zone.

Given that was the original ending to the movie, clearly there was.

B) how does superman take him to another planet? especially while both are powered up? How would superman get back?

Take Zod’s ship.

all the terraforming tech is destroyed/pulled into the phantom zone.

What does terraforming have to do with that? How did you get from “create a jail cell that houses a specific atmosphere” to “remodel the planet”?

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Sean D. Martin said on June 19th, 2013 at 12:54 pm

@Pantsless Pete: he’s going to do his best not to kill people but occasionally, it’s going to happen or need to be done and occasionally, he’s the only one who’s going to be able to do it.
I mean, he grew up on a farm so it’s not as if he’ll flinch at it.

Speaking of not getting Superman at all…

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Candlejack said on June 19th, 2013 at 1:18 pm

@ Sean D. Martin: Or farmers, for that matter.

Just because a farmer can slaughter a pig, doesn’t mean that killing a person ain’t no thing to him.

@Skemono: I think he’s suggesting that, without the terraforming tech, nobody on Earth could possibly figure out how to make the Kryptonian atmosphere at all. I think. I could be wrong.

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highlyverbal said on June 19th, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Skemono, option C = nerdrage over parsing the unbelievable explanation for Superman’s powers. We’re trying to sweep that under the carpet, first and foremost. Zod must die in preference to the whole “yellow sun” thing getting probed too closely.

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How is Superman supposed to put Zod in the Phantom Zone after all of the operational tech capable of sending somebody there stuck inside the Phantom Zone and now totally inaccessible?

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Sean D. Martin said on June 19th, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Prodigal, if the only obstacle to re-Phantom Zoning Zod is just a story point, then that’s easily fixed. As much of the third act should have been.

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Ian Austin said on June 20th, 2013 at 2:13 am

So we are armchair quarterbacking now? If so, I’m out. It’s less about what happened, more what you’d do if anyone card enough to give you money.

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Sean D. Martin said on June 20th, 2013 at 2:00 pm

So we are armchair quarterbacking now?

Isn’t that what ANY discussion about a movie/TV show/book/comic/you-name-it is?

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any moose said on June 20th, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Its as if people have internalized that superman is Jesus magic a superhero

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any moose said on June 20th, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Of course he’s magic

He can literally fly

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any moose said on June 20th, 2013 at 9:13 pm

What superman does with zod is:

Some shit superman figures out, that isn’t killing a guy

Because he’s superman

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Walter Kovacs said on June 21st, 2013 at 6:22 am

Superman should have figured out another way, because Superman should know exactly what to do in his FIRST ever fight against anyone at all, let alone anyone of the same power level as him. And people complain that Superman is boring because he’s perfect.

This is a “Year One” story. Superman is still learning the ropes, doesn’t actually know the limits of his powers. Doesn’t know about Kryptonite, or Magic, or how to build another Phantom Zone reactor. Best case, he’d find a way to save that family, but ultimately, there wasn’t much he could really do to stop Zod in the story. It’s actually possible that he’s stuck in a situation where he can’t figure it out, even if there was a solution. It’s one of those whacky ideas that has gotten into some people’s heads that maybe someone can be fallible and relatable, instead of perfect in all situations.

I mean, he could be Batman, right in all situations, and also killing half of the main villains he comes up against in the movies (not to mention the guns mounted on the Batmobile, and the poor clown who got a bomb down the pants in the Burton films)

Superman EXECUTED Zod in the comics … this is much less deliberate. It’s closer to Max Lord, and even then, Max’s threat was basically “I’ll be a recurring threat if you don’t kill me when you have the chance” instead of “the only way you will end this fight is with one of us dead” that this one had as it’s context.

As much as Kirk likes to piss all over it, sometimes there are no win scenarios, or at the very least, there isn’t an option that would come to mind in the time necessary to be useful.

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Sean D. Martin said on June 21st, 2013 at 12:27 pm

@amy moose: Because he’s superman

Exactly.

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Sean D. Martin said on June 21st, 2013 at 12:41 pm

@Walter Kovacs: As much as Kirk likes to piss all over it, sometimes there are no win scenarios, or at the very least, there isn’t an option that would come to mind in the time necessary to be useful.

Fair enough. Superman shouldn’t be expected to come up with a perfect solution under those conditions (dealing with someone at his own power level, first ever actual physical confrontation with anyone, no time to think things thru or the family is dead, etc.).

But executing Zod should still be something he doesn’t do, certainly not as his first choice and not if any other option even just might be available. I expected him to cover Zod’s eyes or, having Zod in a pretty firm grip already, fly him away. Not perfect, but they avoid the family getting killed and avoid him having to kill Zod.

He doesn’t need to come up with a perfect solution, something that stops Zod immediately and makes sure he’s never again a threat. But I still think he should have tried something else, even if it turns out to be temporary and that Zod remains some kind of threat.

In the novel Miracle Monday (One of two excellent Superman books by Eliot S! Maggin. Read them if you can find them, you’ll be glad you did.) Superman is confronted with a demon who promises to never stop making life hell for Superman and those around him. The demon makes it clear that the only way he’ll stop is if he’s killed. Public opinion turns toward wanting Superman to get rid of this thing permanently. The demon causes constant problems so that Superman is constantly busy for days. Exhausted, frustrated, with the crowd pushing him to it, Superman confronts the demon and… declares he’s going to keep on stopping him, even if it means he never gets another second of rest. It’s much better presented than I’ve done, and it’s exactly right. Superman doesn’t kill, even if it means he has to spend every moment of his time on constant vigilance.

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any moose said on June 22nd, 2013 at 12:12 am

Superman should have figured out another way, because Superman should know exactly what to do

He pretty obviously should have figured out a way because Superman should………… figurt……… out…… what to do

That is pretty obviously what ‘figuring out’ means

That is pretty much the point of superman

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I really didn’t see the problem everyone had with the ending. as someone said already what made it acceptable for me was how totally un-cathartic Zod’s death was. my impression as the fight went on was that Zod wanted to die. Not because of some need to “beat” superman by making him kill him (unlike the Joker) but because in Zod’s own mind he was already dead. It was suicide by cop. can you imagine the rage and insanity that wold consume Zod if he was taken alive? we’re talking someone whose very genetic, cultural, and personal purpose were completely invalidated. all that was left for him was a good death.
As for Superman, he made a hard decision. one that it looks like will haunt him forever. I liked that killing Zod was not an act born of vengeance, but desperation and you can imagine Wonder Woman telling him he made the right call and Superman saying that he didn’t. Zod’s death was not triumphant, it was sad and regrettable, like having to put down a wounded lion that’s gone berserk. And to me that’s why it worked

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Eric Stark said on June 22nd, 2013 at 8:35 am

Giant Spider in the 3rd Act. That’s all I can say.

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Travesty said on June 23rd, 2013 at 11:46 am

So to start with, I loved this movie, although good GOD do I agree about the color palette. Seriously, guys. Bright and colorful. Bright and colorful. Two things, though, one in response to the film and one in response to this discussion:

First, I did not like Pa Kent’s ‘what would the neighbors think?’ speech at all. That felt weird and creepy coming out of his mouth. I can see what they were going for, but here it was handled in a way that left a weird taste in my mouth.

Second, about not killing Zod, I’m going to ask: what about these other options is ‘merciful?’ Project him into the Phantom Zone? Leave him stranded on some other planet without a way off? Stick him in a cell that removes his powers? So killing him is a no-no, an unthinkable act, but leaving him to rot somewhere and to spend the rest of his life going mad with grief and loss is totally kosher and the right thing for Superman to do?

Frankly, I LIKE that Superman killed him. Yes, Superman is the man who shouldn’t kill if there’s a better option available, but this is the kind of situation where killing IS the merciful option. Zod is a broken man, pure and simple. He’s not going to get better. He’s never going to come to terms with what happened. And he has shown that if you let him he WILL KILL HUMANITY. Putting a rabid dog in a cage and waiting for nature to take its course is not merciful.

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SIlverHammerMan said on June 23rd, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Andrew Wheeler had a really good piece over at ComicsAlliance, that along with Chris Sims’ review pretty much sums up my feelings about the movie ad the carnage/killing we see.

To say something using my own wrds though, I’ve gotta disagree about the pacing, I thought it was terrible, especially once we got into the second half and were forced to endure extended fight scenes. Like, yeah it was cool to see a Kryptonian get thrown through a building the first time, but when it seemingly became the go to move, that and using superspeed to be standing ready to fight in a location that they weren’t expected to be, I just got bored. I spent most of the fight scenes just sitting there growing increasingly irritated by the implied bodycount and the fact that it ust felt like padding.

As for the killing, one thing I don’t like is that Superman gave in to Zod’s ultimatum after his origin made a big thing about how Kal-El would be free to follow his own path in life. Honestly I think it would have been more powerful to see Zod not, killed, but just totally broken by the loss of his purpose, it would have been sadder without making the movie uncomfortable for me.

Also, I realy dislike Zack Snyder’s comments that they felt Superman needed a reason not to kill in the future, I think do it could work fairly well, but at the same time the reason Superman doesn’t want to kill anyone is that he’s a decent dude, he doesn’t particularly need a big, angsty, reason.

Another that sturck me waking away from the theatre was that the movie didn’t really have any “Fuck yeah, Superman” moments. They came close with the oil rig scene at the start, but there was never a moment later in the film where we actually got to see Superman swoop in to save the day and be a symbol of hope, after all the noise they made in the movie about him being all about hope.

What bothers me I guess is that in the movie universe, Lex Luthor would be absolutely right, Superman’s very presence is a massive danger that isn’t even close to outweighed by his benefits, this Superman was actively bad for his Earth.

That said, I did like the Krypton stuff when it was actually doing world building and not just dumb action sequences, and I genuinely enjoyed the first half, honestly if Superman had been in costume for his rescues and we’d seen a couple more of them, “Chasing Superman, Starring Lois Lane” would have been a damn near perfect mature take on the character. Everything after Zod shows up though? So not for me.

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Silver Hammer I had the same thought–in many ways this seemed to confirm every “Is Superman a menace?” claim someone’s brought up in the comics.
I thought of Miracle Monday although it’s not a perfect match. Superman’s not simply faced with killing a demon but a completely innocent woman possessed by the creature.
But as for giving Superman a motive never to kill, I’m not sure the big wail of anguish gets that across (a statement to Swanwick later would have helped). Okay, he feels bad about it, got that–but next time? It doesn’t convince me he’d choose the alternative route.

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Though I still think Miracle Monday does a better job by making the question of Superman killing front-and-center from the start of the book (Pa begins worrying what would happen if Superboy does cross that line).

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Candlejack said on June 24th, 2013 at 1:50 pm

“Okay, he feels bad about it, got that–but next time? It doesn’t convince me he’d choose the alternative route.”

Good point, Fraser. Don’t know the reality, as I’ve never killed anyone, but doesn’t fiction assure us that the first kill is the hard one, and it gets easier after that?

Though I think I have read at least one piece of military sci-fi that claimed the second one is the hardest, because you now know how bad it will feel and haven’t gotten used to it yet, that’s not generally the arc taken in action movies. On the other hand, action heroes rarely feel bad about killing even the first time. So…hope?

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Candlejack said on June 25th, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Belatedly, I find myself wondering how Jor-El sold Lara on his plan.

I mean, sure, the kid has to leave the planet to survive. That’s the easy part of the pitch. Having the capacity to go with the kid, and not doing it because you’re a product of old Krypton and old Krypton is bad? Harder sell, especially when you’re aware of the problems with old Krypton and have already proven willing and able to work against them. Is forgetting the mistakes of the past really the best way to avoid repeating them?

And is dumping a kid on the mercy of whoever happens to find him better than guaranteeing he’ll grow up with loving parents? What if, instead of dropping in the laps of a kindly couple who wanted children, he’d ended up in the hands of the state, and raised to be either a lab monkey or a tool of the government, with his ship and the key taken off some place for study where he’d never even know they existed?

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David Grossman’s excellent “On Killing” says the first one is usually the hardest. Once you’ve done it you rationalize it (the victim was non-Aryan/non-white/evil incarnate/an enemy of the state) and it gets easier.
Good point about Jor-El and Lara staying behind. In the comics, it was either impossible to send anyone but Kal, or Lara chose to stay with her husband over his wishes, depending on the version.

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I like that he killed Zod; someone who acknowledges that killing a genocidal maniac is an option and still fights not to do it is more interesting to me than someone who simply always follows the rule to never kill anybody. The latter is an abdication of responsibility, the former an acceptance of it. And I get that this puts me in a minority on this thread – the “following the rule must always win no matter how absurd the plot twist that allows Superman to defeat the enemy without killing him” contingent has simply made a different decision about what they enjoy, and that’s fine.

On to the one truly important topic, though: Cavill vs. Reeve. Cavill was a fine Superman; I’d say his Superman was about even with Reeve’s in my eyes. But at the end, at the Daily Planet? He was still playing Superman. Reeve’s performance as Clark Kent is just untouchable. His Kent is so perfectly believable as the guy who absolutely could not be Superman.

Also! I was really irritated that the shot of the Lexcorp truck dropping Clark off at home wasn’t the only time we saw the name. Boo to them for having such a subtle name-drop and following it up with such a heavy handed one.

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I agree that what Lois got to do was awesome, but I think the plot density worked against making her really register as a character. Amy Adams is a really good actress and they should have given her more dialogue that wasn’t explaining the story.

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socraticsilence said on July 2nd, 2013 at 2:32 am

The movie did do one thing very, very right– it makes the case for a good Luthor, I mean normally its possible but really hard to buy the whole “the world needs to protect itself from people like Superman”, in this iteration– Lex would not just have a point he’d be right: Earth would have been better off if a noble, yet misunderstood genius had smothered Clark when he landed.

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Superman doesn’t kill.
But this wasn’t Superman. It was SuperBOY at best.
Or maybe even Superbaby.
Despite his advanced age he’s never gone up against any sort of powered foe or even Luthor sort. Hell, even a Toyman. When he has saved people he either splits and assumes a new temporary identity or hopes they forget/clam up.
He’s never taken any real personal responsibility for his actions, or had to.
So now he gets a load of crap dumped on him. Your people are here, and they wanna kill us all. Here’s your dad too, and he wants you to stop them. Your foster-mom just got banged up a bit btw as did your new galpal.
Now go forth, naif, and do the Jesus Christ – Captain Kirk – Magic Pixie bit.

How do they avoid this next time?
Show that he grew up, and that he won’t.

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