The following post contain spoilers for Man of Steel.
I hope that goes without saying, but there you go.
I liked the film — quite a bit, actually. It’s not my favorite Superman adaptation, but only in the same manner Batman Begins isn’t my favorite Batman adaptation: there are simply too many versions of the story to choose an absolute favorite from. With that said, while I like the old Richard Donner film and appreciate its impact on cinema, I found Man of Steel superior in a variety of important ways.
But it seems like a whole lot of other people vehemently despise the film. After spending a few paltry hours reading up on these critics’ complaints, I’m interested in offering a few rebuttals/excuses/counterpoints. They’re entitled to their opinion and if they hate the movie, okay. Whatever floats their boat (or sinks it). This little list will simply express a few opinions of my own.
The Film Is Too Long/Has Too Much Action:
I understand this criticism and I generally agree with it. Some of the fight scenes went on too long — the stuff at the end with Zod kinda blurs together in my mind, which is never a good sign with a fight scene.
So, yeah, some trimming would have helped. Seriously though, this is just a nitpick for me, while for too many people it’s a deal-breaker. Why can’t a Superman film have some hefty action scenes?-
Superman Accidentally Kills A Few Hundred Innocents:
When Superman fights General Zod and his minions, a lot of skyscrapers get demolished. A lot of skyscrapers. Many viewers have seen this as an unnecessary amount of collateral damage, perhaps the most collateral damage ever shown in a superhero film.
What truly rankled viewers, though, was that a good deal of said collateral damage was Superman’s fault, since he appears to go out of his way to smash Zod + minions through every building/gas station/populated area he can find. I seem to recall this happening a lot in the cartoons, but then again — they were cartoons. A viewer’s suspension of disbelief treads an entirely different level with cartoons. I get that.
“Why didn’t Superman try to bring the bad guys away from the city and fight them in a desert/park/anywhere relatively unoccupied?”
Superman wasn’t stronger than them, or rather, the villains were just dexterous enough to evade such an attempt from him. They probably preferred fighting in a populated area — why would they care about collateral damage?
“Then why doesn’t Superman care about the damage, either?”
This one I can’t explain, so I half-agree with the critics. It’s obvious Superman wants to protect innocents . . . but then he proceeds to put effort into punting Zod through a hundred most-likely-packed skyscrapers, destroying property and killing innocents. If they had shown Superman regret his over-zealousness later or showed him trying and failing to drag the fight out of the city, I would have been more content.
Pa Kent Doesn’t Escape A Tornado:
Even I will admit this sequence left feeling a little confused, so I might fail to summarize it accurately:
The Kents and their dog are driving on the highway and run into a tornado, and everybody tries to evacuate the immediate area and hide in an overpass. Pa Kent goes back to rescue the family dog, which has been left behind in their car. In his efforts to save the dog his foot is crushed, but the dog escapes unscathed. Pa Kent starts to flee the tornado and realizes he isn’t fast enough, and Clark realizes this too and makes to use his super-speed to rescue his father. Pa Kent wordlessly orders him not to use his powers, worried that the dozens of evacuees will see him do so and turn him in to the government or the media or however. Clark respects his father’s last wish and lets him die.
I can’t help comparing this scene with a similar moment that occurs early in Smallville’s run: a tornado abruptly strikes a highway and takes up Lana Lang in her car, and Clark arrives just in time to jump into the tornado and use his powers to rescue her. Obviously there are multiple differences between these scenes, but I still made the connection between them, so I had a little bit of difficulty watching the Man of Steel variation.
Examining said variation in a vacuum, however, I think it works. I wish Pa Kent wasn’t killed by a tornado, and I wish his injury had been a little more immobilizing, but even so, I felt the sequence served a purpose in the film’s story.
Superman Kills Zod:
At the end of the film, General Zod puts Superman into an inescapable situation where he must either kill Zod or allow more innocents to die. The film sets this up as an agonizing lose/lose scenario, but all I saw was a win/lose scenario.
Many people are outraged that Superman gave in and killed Zod.
I don’t really understand why.
“Why didn’t Superman fly away with Zod before his heat vision could scorch the innocents, or stop his vision with his hand?”
That’s technically two questions, dude. But I thought it was clearly established that Superman wasn’t quite strong enough to lift Zod out of the room — Zod can fly too, you know — and that heat vision is really, really hot. Superman would not have been able to protect the innocents forever.
And that’s the main issue: Superman can’t keep this up forever, and Zod will never stop trying to murder everybody, so Superman simply must put a permanent stop to him. The point was not, “Why does he kill Zod?” but, “When does he kill Zod?”
Also, for everybody arguing that the “real Superman” would never have killed anybody, let alone Zod . . .
Like . . . damn, man. At least in Man of Steel Zod still posed a genuine threat. Christopher Reeve sucked out his superpowers and straight-up murdered him.
So, those are my opinions — briefly summarized — on a few different opinions — briefly summarized.
Thanks for reading. I might have more to say about Man of Steel, but if so, I’ll probably let my brain stew for a day or two.