I along with everyone else went to see the new Superman film Man of Steel with either low expectations or severe trepidation after the complete crapfest that was Superman Returns. Critically MoS hasn’t done well, but most reviews from cinema goers are quite positive and if you’ve not seen it yet then a) stop reading this because SPOILERS and b) go watch the film.
There are two really big points of controversy in MoS and both come at the end of the film. The first being the complete and utter annihilation of Smallville and 85% of Metropolis, the second being the killing of Zod.
I’m going to deal with Zod first as that was something I did not see coming and I’m pretty sure I shouted ‘HOLY SHIT’ when Superman snapped Zod’s neck.
I’ve seen the comments about how Superman never kills and always finds a way of dealing with a situation but Superman has killed before, it’s very rarel but it has happened. He’s killed 3 Kryptonians and Doomsday in the comics and Titan in Smallville. You also need to look at that whole scene, Zod’s plan is to kill every living thing on the planet, he has a family trapped and is trying by burn them alive with his heat vision just to prove a point. Superman had to act fast, Zod would just keep going and would never stop and the only means to trap him in the Phantom Zone again was used to blow up one of the terra-formers to save Earth. He had to make a choice and after the neck snapping you saw his reaction of knowing he’d just ended the life of another being, it was a reaction of pain, sorrow and regret and something I believe will be used heavily in the sequel.
Speaking of heavily used in the sequel, we move on to the second point, the destruction. Yes the destruction and most likely loss of life in this film was high, very, very high. The whole film builds the story that he wants to help people but his Father (Kent) won’t let him because that will expose him and his powers to the world, even to the point of sacrificing himself (Kent) to protect his sons secret.
Onto the destruction, the first piece is the Smallville battle. People have made a valid point, why not take the fight onto farmland? Well for one, there’s 3 of them and only one of him and he spends the majority of the battle getting the crap kicked out of him, even if Superman managed to drag one of the Kryptonians away he’d never be able to get all 3. Plus the majority of the damage was caused by the military, not Superman; he wasn’t the one sending fighter jets, helicopters and several squads of troops into an area filled with civilians, why didn’t the military try and get the people out of there first and then bomb the town?
The Zod battle, personally I think a lot of people are missing the point. If two beings with immeasurable speed, strength and power collide it’s not going to be a couple of dinged cars and an office building hit. It should be so much more; when two beings with this level of power collide the audience needs to feel that things will get bad, it needs to be an emotional fight from our side of the screen, we need to care about our hero but we also need to care about those being affected by the battle.
I wrote a blog last month about how I prefer Robert Kirkman’s Invincible over Superman and what happened in MoS is what happens in Invincible. There’s a LOT of damage. Granted in Invincible they do a lot more to protect the civilians but this was Supermans first real outing, his first real test of his powers, he has no idea what he’s truly capable of and emotions would have been running very high. Not only is Zod trying to wipe out his adoptive home but Zod killed his biological Father Jor-El.
With the killing of Zod and the destruction of Smallville and Metropolis there’s already a strong story built for the sequel. Clark has to come to terms with killing Zod and the loss of life and damage he caused to protect us. On top of that people will fear Superman and so they should, he needs to prove himself to the people of Earth. With the events of MoS bringing in Lex Luthor as the main baddie in the sequel is a must, Lex wants power and here dumped right in his lap is an extremely powerful alien who levelled a city plus there’s bound to be a lot of alien tech left smouldering somewhere for him to reverse engineer.
My way to handle the sequel is have Lex show up and throw millions or even billions of dollars into the clean-up effort, support grieving families and make himself the hero, have him run for Mayor/Governor with his promise to rid Metropolis of Superman while using the clean-up effort as a smokescreen to collect alien tech as I stated above, which he can use to embarrass and destroy Superman and become the biggest and most powerful crime lord in the world.
So what’s my point in all this? My point is the huge battle sequences and destruction may not have just been there to create action porn but to be something much deeper, maybe we’re supposed to be asking all these questions, maybe it’s all by design to create a stronger and more emotionally charged sequel.
Or maybe it was just blowing shit up for the sake of it. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.