Is Man of Steel Destruction Porn? Is Man of Steel Destruction Porn?
Well Man of Steel has landed with quite a box office splash and the sequel is on the fast track at Warner Bros. I... Is Man of Steel Destruction Porn?

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Well Man of Steel has landed with quite a box office splash and the sequel is on the fast track at Warner Bros. I watched the film over the weekend and instead of a normal review of a movie I have some things I have been thinking about after seeing it. First I will say that I consider 1978 Richard Donner Superman as the gold standard to which I hold all other superhero films too. You can read my comments about that HERE. Of course now it seems that superhero films need to be more realistic and gritty for today audiences due to the success of the Chris Nolan Batman films. I find it ironic that back in 1992 when Tim Burton made Batman Returns and it was much darker than the original films people flipped out and Burton was not asked back for the third film and Joel Schumacher was brought in to make it more mainstream appealing. In 2006 Warner Bros revived the character with Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns that met with mixed reviews but made $391 million worldwide but was considered a failure (adding $65 million to the $204 million budget for the failed previous attempt to get Superman off the ground including the very costly failure of Superman Lives with Tim Burton receiving $5 million and Nicolas Cage $20 million play or pay contracts) While I think that the Superman Returns is far from perfect I think that it gets a much more crap than it deserves. People tend to forget that the gap between Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and Superman Returns is nearly twenty years. You are talking about two generations of kids that did not know Superman in film. While maybe Superman Returns may have been too much of a love letter to the Donnor film it does however portray Superman in a much better light than Man of Steel does.

[Major Spoilers Ahead]

I will say that I did like Man of Steel I just didn’t love it. There are certainly much worse recent superhero films (yea I’m looking at you Iron Man 2, Fantastic Four, Jonah Hex and Spider-Man 3) The main problem that I had with the film is the ending. When Superman snapped the neck of General Zod I knew that this was not the Superman that I know and love. Now I get that it would have been the wrong approach to have Superman being a boy scout and walking Grandma across the street or getting a cat of a tree but the thing that makes Superman such a great character is that he embodies the very best of humanity. Superman with his powers is basically a god. But what is always difficult when writing for him is that you must always understand that it’s the lessons and values that Jonathan and Martha Kent raised Clark with and what made him the human being that he is. The other issues are the unrelenting destruction porn scenes of Smallville and Metropolis getting decimated. The big flaw in the ending with Zod is that if Superman is so concerned with saving people he did a very poor job in both locations. It’s not shown due to the PG-13 ratings but the casualties have to be bad in Smallville and downright awful if you lived in Metropolis. Both of these scenes go on for way too long. It seems as if David Goyer and Zack Snyder needed to outdo all the other destruction films ever made, combined. With the scene in Smallville I knew things were not looking good for the film. Then you have the polar opposite scenes with Jonathan Kent. First there is scene where Clark saves the kids on the school bus and Jonathan said that he maybe should have let them die?!? Then later on when the kids are bullying Clark he tells him that it was correct of him to restrain himself. Fist off I can’t imagine that Jonathan Kent would ever tell his son to not save anyone. I get that he is trying to keep Clark’s plowers a secret but not saving a group of kids from drowning. That’s downright insane and very out of character. Now on the flip side the scene where Jonathan goes and saves the dog and gestures to Clark not to save him is one of the strongest scenes in the whole film. I won’t lie I was in tears because this is what the charter of Jonathan Kent is all about. Then there is Zod going on near the end of the film about how he was bred to be a warrior and a killer. Well that’s funny because at the beginning of the film Jor-El who was a scientist was sure kicking that warriors ass pretty good. Then you have the fact that everyone in the whole picture knows that Clark Kent is Superman but put the glasses on at the end and no one will figure it out. So for years people have thought that just by Superman wearing glasses would fool everyone. Goyer and Snyder make it look even stupider in their version

Now a lot of people have been throwing around “well Superman had killed before in film and in the comics” and four instances have been noted.

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Superman II:

After Superman takes the powers away from Zod, Ursa and Non he throws them into a mist and they disappear. Well even as a kid I nor anyone else for that matter ever thought that Superman actually killed them. What happened to them was anybody guess but dead?!? Well that argument is no longer valid due to the 2006 Donner cut of the film. The original ending was to be Superman reversing time and altering the events that had occurred so the “deaths” are null and void. Also there is a deleted scene where Zod and his cronies are seen alive and well being taken away by arctic police. So either was they were never thought of as dead.

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Superman #423 and Action Comics #583 (1986):

Before John Bryne took over Superman with his Man of Steel mini series editor Julius Schwartz ask acclaimed British writer Alan Moore to script a “what if these were the real last issues of the books”. Within the story Superman kills Mr. Mxyzptlk when he is ripped apart going back to his dimension and Superman turning on the Phantom Zone projector. And for his penitence he uses Gold Kryptonite to strip his powers and lead a normal human life. The flaw with that theory is that these were IMAGINARY STORIES!

Superman-#75

Death of Superman:

People have been pointing out that in that storyline Superman killed Doomsday. Again people never look up what happened after the battle. This is what happened. In the aftermath of Superman’s apparent death, four super-beings appeared in his wake, two of them declaring themselves to be the “real” Superman. One of these four, a half-man/half-machine who greatly resembled Superman with cybernetic implants where he had sustained the greatest amount of damage from Doomsday’s blows took custody of Doomsday’s apparently lifeless body. After strapping the creature to an asteroid with an electronic device attached, the cyborg flung Doomsday into deep space, on a trajectory supposedly certain to never intersect any other planet. The issue ended with a frame of a reawakened and laughing Doomsday, still chained to the asteroid but otherwise alive.

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Superman Volume 2 #22

So here is the one that most people are latching onto for their argument. In this issue The third and final part of “The Supergirl Saga”, Superman along with Supergirl, Lex Luthor and his resistance team confront the three Phantom Zone criminals as they engage in a battle that results in great disaster: the Smallville citadel is destroyed, all of Luthor’s team members are killed, and Supergirl is surprisingly melted. Lex Luthor secretly tells Superman to head towards Superboy’s underground lab while he tends to distracting the Phantom Zone criminals. Luthor makes Superman swear that he will not let the same disaster that befell his world take place on his own, and so faced with a difficult decision of what to do with three depowered evil Kryptonians who committed genocide on a global scale, he chooses to execute them by fatal exposure to Green Kryptonite, watching sadly as all three of them fall. Superman’s execution of the three Phantom Zone criminals would continue to affect him years later when he was haunted by three immaterial energy beings posing as ghost that took their forms. This was John Bryne’s last issue so he left quite a mess for other writers to deal with the aftermath of it all.

So of the four argument that people are citing there is only one (Superman #22) that has much validity. Now I could debate the fact that the John Bryne era is not the basis for this film if anything Superman Birthright by Mark Waid (and his thoughts on Man of Steel can be found HERE)  is what would be the current basis for modern continuity before DC revamped the entire line for the New 52. This in fact may not be all of the time that this issue has come up in the comics or other media.

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There is also the problem of the destruction of both Smallville and Metropolis. First Smallville, unlike Metropolis Smallville is fictional but in the film it’s set in Kansas. I get that the conflict would probably start in the downtown area but one would think that there are many open locations not far from there that you would lead the bad guys away from. But no Superman seems to not notice that they are destroying the town and there has to be casualties involved. The iHop scene is laughable because they conveniently land in the empty part of the restaurant and not one person in the whole place seems to have been injured in the slightest. When the final battle gets to Metropolis it makes the destruction over at Smallville look like a light spring rain. Once the battle starts after a few minutes the novelty of destruction wears off really fast. The battle between Superman and Zod is downright unrelenting then add in the terra forming of the earth that is centered in Metropolis it’s a wonder that any of it is still standing at the end. BuzzFeed and Charles Watson worked with his team at Watson Technical Consulting to model and anticipate the damage done to Metropolis, both in the form of human casualties and monetary cost. They ran analyses of the World Engine ground zero in Central Manhattan and central Chicago, finding that the major damage would be a mile in diameter. Here is a breakdown chart to show how bad it was.

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Then add-on top the “love scene” where Lois is kissing Superman. Nothing show’s romance like kissing in the rubble and dust of thousands of dead people. During the battle Superman seems to not care to attempt to take the fight out of harms way of Metropolis in any way. I get it may not be that simple but there is flat-out no attempt.

General-Zog

The snap hear around the world.

The real problem in the film for me is when Superman snaps Zods neck. I am getting tired of people defending this with “Well he had no other choice”. I’m sorry that is just a piss poor excuse. It’s not like this is based on a true story and they had to follow that. No they never needed to go to that place at all. We have now learned that Chris Nolan was opposed to the scene. In an interview with Empire Magazine David S. Goyer  said

“That was a change – originally Zod got sucked into the Phantom Zone along with the others and I just felt it was unsatisfying and so did Zack. We started questioning – we talked to some of the people at DC Comics and said, ‘Do you think there is ever a way that Superman would kill someone?’ And at first they said ‘No way, no way,’ and we said, ‘but what if he didn’t have a choice?’ Originally Chris didn’t even want to let us try to write it and Zack and I said, ‘We think we can figure out a way that you’ll buy it.’”

So then Zack Snyder takes a whack at it:

“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.’ 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, ‘OK, 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?’”

So obviously trying to fit the round peg in the square hole was the final solution. It’s was a bad idea to begin with and even within the scenario Superman is the type of character that would find another solution. Ironically Snyder brings up the Kobayashi Maru from Star Trek II The Wrath of Kahn that deals with the no win case scenario and I quote “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or one”. But Goyer and Snyder don’t even bother to address the repercussions of a no win situation period. They just ignore the needs of anything or anyone for that matter. It’s also worth pointing out that with the mind numbing loss of life in Metropolis that all of a sudden that Superman is so distraught over the possible loss of four people. I get it’s a terrible position to be placed in but tell that to all the people who were crushed when the 12 previous buildings fell on them. There is no justification for killing another person period and to have Superman do this is unforgivable. Superman should be better than the best of humanity that is what makes him a hero. The irony is that as gritty as the Chris Nolan Batman films were, Batman never used a gun or killed anyone (and before you say that he killed Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins he did not, he chose not to save him. There is a big difference). Yet David S. Goyer is also the same genius that brought us the very lame story of Superman renouncing his U.S. citizenship in Action Comics #900.

The real flaw of this is the seemingly lack of repercussions of the death. Yes Superman is crying with Lois but then the next scene when talking with the General there is nothing. No mention just lets move on with it and maybe they wont notice it. So having him just snap a guy’s neck is really going to reassure the public that Superman is really a hero makes no sense story wise considering that part of the plot of the film is that we are afraid of Superman. Nothing says that I trust you like killing somebody.

So is Man of Steel worth seeing? Yes and it’s far from terrible but the more that I reflect on it the more it seems to not sit well. The script is pretty weak and the lack of three act structure is a bit odd and at times very disjointed. There are many plot holes that just ignored or covered up with shiny visual effect. I just wish that Goyer and Snyder had respected Superman. I don’t have a problem with gritty superheroes but I do have a problem with throwing humanity out the window for cheap thrills.

 

Steven Howearth

Steven Howearth

  • Jim Cartwright

    June 20, 2013 #1 Author

    Steve,
    I can’t agree more with your assessment of the film. Like you, I hold Superman in high regards and and have believed in the “Truth, Justice and American way” character of Superman.
    I was not expecting to see a Donner-esque film, but I was also not expecting to see the wanton destruction that took place in the film.
    Superman should have been given another solution to the Zod battle rather than just snapping his neck.
    This was done to save a family of four people, while outside thousands were already dead from the Kryptonian terra forming machine in downtown Metropolis. So Superman was more worried about the four people in front of him and not the thousands in downtown that have already been killed?
    Also, Lois Lane should never know that Clark is actually Superman. Okay, fine, she finds out when they were about to be married. That’s okay because they have known each other for years. But, to start off the story with her knowing his true identity is not acceptable. She’ll never be able to keep the secret.
    I thought it was a good idea to introduce the character of Emil Hamilton. I thought to myself, “great, we may get to see STAR Labs in this film and the forming of a friendship between Hamilton and Superman.” Hamilton didn’t last very long. Alhough, if anyone could figure a way to get out of the Phantom Zone, it would be him. That is, if he’s not murdered by the evil Kryptonians.
    Overall, I too liked the film, but didn’t love it. It was Superman, but not my Superman.

    Reply

  • Eric Bennett

    June 20, 2013 #2 Author

    You’re being way too kind. They had a wealth of great TV shows, graphic novels, the old movies, etc..$200 million dollars, and 6+ years since Returns to get this right. I’ve told you in person all the things wrong with it (both nitpicky and major), but I present the one argument to rule them all. What makes this film a failure is that there’s a group of people (from what I can tell) that “kinda” liked it, even less that really liked it, and a lot that didn’t. Look on Rotten tomatoes too. My argument is if this film was good, why is there so much division on it? You don’t see people arguing on whether or not the Dark Knight was epic, Avengers, Iron Man I, Spider man 1 and 2, Xmen First Class, etc..I could go on. The good/well thought out films in this genre don’t get such vile blowback unless there’s something wrong with it. The casual and harcore fans aren’t easily fooled. They screwed up royally on this. DC has no competence at all with their characters. If you need more evidence, see Green Lantern. They got lucky with the one character they’ve nailed in the last 30 years, Batman, because Nolan did it. MOS…UG!!!

    Reply

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