In Defense Of - Man of Steel
When we look in the mirror…sometimes we don’t like what we see.
I’ll get to what I mean in a minute, but first, let’s pick up where our review or Superman Returns left off. “Punch something. Or at least punch something that’s not an island.” This seemed to be the chorus sung by everyone critical of Bryan Singer’s film. And so, after yet another pause in the franchise, only 7 years this time, we were given Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Those critical of the movie were given EXACTLY what they wanted. And, as is often the case with fanboys these days…the bitching continued. Since this is an “In Defense of…” review, we’ll take a look at what everyone complained about and why they’re wrong. As one would expect, we’ll also cover why I feel the film deserves far more credit than it actually gets. Risking excommunication from the internet [Which, to be honest, we’re kinda surprised didn’t happen after we defended Fox’s most recent Fantastic 4 reboot. – Ed.], I’ll confess I’m a huge fan of the movie. While I hope to sway your opinion, let’s be honest, with as polarizing as everything seems to be these days, I’d be perfectly happy if I simply got you to watch the film again…then mutter about how you still hate it and that you just wasted two and a half hours just because you listened to some dipshit on the internet.
Let’s look at some strengths of the film before we get into addressing the top complaints that I’ve either heard or seen on the web. The very way Christopher Nolan, David Goyer and Zack Snyder chose to approach the material was a fantastic way to start, treating it as a science fiction/First Contact story. Superman tends to work best when he falls into the realm of science fiction. Don’t think so? Well, comic book history would disagree with you. Many of the preconceived notions about Superman sprang forth from the Mort Weisinger’s tenure as editor of the Superman books at DC…and the vast majority of them were rooted in the science fiction of the time. It should be obvious to state that using the sci-fi tropes of the 50’s would be suicide for the character in a modern setting, but adapting the sci-fi tropes of today for the character, honestly, is something I continue to ponder why no one else has attempted to do this prior to Man of Steel. [Although you could argue that Bruce Timm and company did just that in their Superman: The Animated Series. So perhaps the best way to phrase this would be to say you wonder why no one in film has taken this approach. – Ed.] Making this more specific, in embracing the First Contact trope, Goyer brings to the fore a pretty damn big detail that nearly every single telling of his origin has completely overlooked: Superman is an alien. I mean, comic book fans get that…they know it reflexively…but Goyer actually explores what that would really MEAN. The scientific, religious and philosophical implications of this are absolutely amazing. Not only is he an alien…but he looks just like us. Science would obviously reel from the revelation, religion would take it and run with it as a sign of an actual God and/or intelligent design…and those are only the start as it all dovetails and spirals out from there. Now, granted, you simply cannot cover that in the span of two to two and a half hours. The one thing the movie does cover, and I am so glad it does given how pertinent it is in current times, is xenophobia. [And, hey, we’re back to the beginning of the article…woo…hoo. – Ed.] Perry White says it best, “Can you imagine how people would react if they knew someone like this was out there?” Unfortunately, yeah, I can. Hell, look at how we react toward other humans. I mean, we get all riled up when other humans just look different, but an actual alien? Maybe this sheds a bit of light on Jonathan Kent’s seemingly overprotective behavior. [If it doesn’t, don’t worry, he’s going to go on and on about it in a bit. Try to restrain your excitement. – Ed.] Let’s take this a step further, since we’ve been living in what really can be considered a culture of fear and a constant striving for ‘security’…whatever in the hell that means…for nearly 15 years now. Come on, you know you could imagine some idiot demanding DNA checks or some other measure to counter this hidden alien threat. People complained there was no joy in the movie…that the tone was too serious…but in an effort to portray the DC Universe in a more cinematic or grounded way, there have to be some tethers to our reality, and I’m sorry folks, the xenophobia that’s portrayed here…that’s the way it is. You don’t like the movie? You don’t like the depiction of this? Well, then stop cursing at the mirror and start working to change the image. [How’s that soapbox feeling? Pretty good? We had it lined with some Dr. Scholl’s insoles for you there…we want you to be confortable. – Ed.]
Another thing that I absolutely loved about the film but certainly falls under the “too serious/no joy” complaint of most is how the character of Kal-El/Clark/Superman was handled…because it captured one of the main aspects of the character that has always resonated with me: looking like a human but never really being part of the human race or accepted by others…more concisely, the outsider aspect of Superman. Henry Cavill describes his take as “He’s an outsider in nearly every aspect of his life. The only place he’s made to feel comfortable is at home with Jonathan and Martha.” Holy shit, I know that feeling. Look, growing up in rural northeast Ohio, being into comic books or sci-fi was a big strike against you. Being smart? Strike two. Not being into sports (football, basketball or baseball…hockey isn’t acknowledged there…at least not when I was growing up), NASCAR or other motorsports or wrestling (fake or Greco-Roman)…well, that’s strike three, you’re out…as in cast out. You are…the other. Maybe I should put that in caps. Making it worse was the fact that in my case, often times the moment I’d start to speak…they knew. They knew from my word choice that I was intelligent. They knew from my references what I was into and what I was not. I looked like them…but I could never BE one of them. And especially in your formative social years, middle school, high school and college…you WANT to be. That’s how you get dates, man! But no. It was a lonely way to grow up. Sure, I had a very small circle of like-minded assholes [Most people call them “friends”…FYI. – Ed.] but outside of that…sigh, it was depressing…and a mystery that haunted me for my entire time there. How can I get the interaction I want without having to give up who I am? Hell…I can’t possibly imagine how much worse it would’ve been if I’d been part of an actual minority! I’m not deluded enough to say I know what those people go through…instead, I know enough to say that if that was the shit I was getting…and I can pass if I keep my mouth shut…what actual minorities go through must be a hell that I don’t even want to imagine. This film, unlike any other Superman film, captures that perfectly. Superman Returns touched on it…but Man of Steel makes it a core theme of the movie and as you can tell from what I’ve shared above, it’s a theme that’s deeply personal to me.
Let’s keep the killjoy flowing and move on to Jonathan Kent as played by Kevin Costner. Two things strike me every time I see him in this movie: 1) I can’t believe they got him to play the role and 2) comparing him with Glenn Ford’s portrayal is…well, they couldn’t ask for a better successor. There are two things that every critic of the movie points to and they both deal with Jonathan, so I figured I’d smoosh them all into the same paragraph. The first, well, that was one of the very first things fanboys were griping about. It’s an exchange that appeared in the first full trailer for the film. After a school bus crashes into a river and young Clark saves the bus and everyone inside, he’s confronted by his father about having to keep this side of him a secret. In the trailer, the exchange was cut to this: Young Clark “What was I supposed to do, just let everyone die?”, Jonathan: “Maybe”. Even I’ll say that this kinda makes Jonathan sound like a dick. I get wanting to protect your kid…but really? But even in the context of the movie, listening to all of what Jonathan had to say, fanboys were still pissed. Let’s look at what he actually says. “Maybe…there’s more at stake here than just our lives and those around us.” “Maybe,” as it’s said in the trailer, ISN’T Jonathan’s full answer. “Maybe there’s more at stake here than just our lives and those around us.” THAT’S Jonathan’s full answer. The pause…well, put yourself in Jonathan’s shoes for a minute. He knows where this conversation is going to have to go. He’s going to have to answer his son when he finally asks “Why am I so different?”. You ever have one of those BIG conversations? You’re damn right you go all Shatner…inserting any pause you can…why? Give your brain at least some time to prepare at least the vaguest outline of what you need to say and maybe…MAYBE, if you’re REALLY good…some hint on how to say it. He knows he has to tell his son that not only is he adopted, but he’s an alien. Fuck. I mean, I’m not even a parent and I know that the “You’re adopted” revelation is a big one…try tacking on that second part! And he’s right…there IS more at stake than their lives or the lives of those around them. Clark’s very existence changes EVERYTHING…as we’ve already talked a little bit about earlier in this review. Jonathan handles it about as well as any parent put on the spot could…but apparently, not good enough for the internet. Win some, lose some, I guess. Next up, we come to Jonathan Kent’s death. While it’s not a given, more often than not, if an actor is cast as Pa Kent in any production that tackles Superman lore, you can bet they’re probably not gonna see the end credits or the series finale. Being named for and taking influences from John Byrne’s Post-Crisis miniseries [More on that in a bit. – Ed.], I thought Pa had a good chance of coming out of this one okay. Well, not so much. But it’s the why that once again has critics up in arms. So a tornado develops while the Kents are on the Interstate heading to or from somewhere. It’s Kansas, they have ‘em...so okay. Jonathan tells everyone to get to the overpass. [Insert record scratch sound here. Hi kids, we’re going to do something unique here…welcome to Day Job Interlude. This is where I take little nuggets from what I do for a living and then rant about them in completely random locations. If you’re EVER on a highway during a tornado…DO NOT GO TO THE OVERPASS. Now, growing up in the Midwest, I can tell you that yes, this is a very popular misconception…so it makes sense for Pa Kent to suggest it. What Pa Kent and most Midwesterners DON’T take into account is a little thing we call the Venturi Effect. Essentially, this states that when a fluid, like in this case air, is forced through a constricted space, the speed which it passes through this space actually INCREASES. Thus, by saying “GET TO THE OVERPASS”, Pa Kent is essentially ordering everyone into a wind tunnel where winds will be even FASTER than those had they just stayed where they were. If you’re ever in this situation, head for a ditch or lower ground. You’ll have a better chance surviving…with or without a Kryptonian present. – Ed.] Okay…editorial rant aside, so in heading to the overpass [Seriously…DON’T DO IT. – Ed.] Martha realizes she left the dog in the car. Clark volunteers to go…but Jonathan shoots him down, ordering Clark to look after his mom. While Pa frees the dog, his ankle gets broken in the process and…well, there’s a gentle way I could say it, he ends up making the ultimate sacrifice to protect Clark’s secret…and then there’s the blunt way, dude becomes tornado chow. And there was much bitching…the number one being “why didn’t Clark, you know, being Superman, save his own dad?” Now, thematically, we know Superman has to learn the lesson that he can’t save everyone. [Remember that when we start to talk about Metropolis…because most of the critics forgot that little fact. – Ed.] How does this scene illustrate that? Well, welcome to Kal-El’s Kobayashi Maru. Actually…it’s more like Jonathan’s. You see, nearly everyone there has one big life-threatening crisis on their mind…the tornado. Clark also only has one crisis on his mind…but it’s not the tornado because…pffft…c’mon…it’s his dad out in it, that’s the problem. Jonathan, however, is dealing with TWO: keeping his son’s secret and…oh, yeah, TORNADO. Let’s stop and think…do people make the smartest decisions in situations like these? No. No they don’t. Jonathan’s mind has slipped into an either/or mindset…do I live…or do I keep my son’s secret safe? If he chooses option A…all that hard work in keeping things under wraps, all those years doing so…swish, right out the window. And I can’t think of a single one of us that’d be willing to flush years’ worth of work right down the toilet. Let’s expand on this…keeping in mind two very important facts. First, it’s a MODERN retelling. You know…internet, cell phones…all that. Second, this is happening on an Interstate. Yes, the film establishes that Clark’s ‘miracles’ are kind of an open secret in Smallville…but out here? Out here you’ve got people driving through Kansas [Because that’s what you do…sorry Kansans, but you should’ve figured this out by now. – Ed.] and going to New York, California, Vegas…NOT KANSAS. So…they see this guy rescue another guy from a tornado, the rescuer not getting so much as a scratch…and, omigod, Sally like totally got a pic of him with her phone…yeah, hang on, I’m posting onto Faceyspace now. Oh, tweet it too? Yeah, great idea. Boom. No more secret. And the whole point Jonathan has been making to Clark for all of his childhood is that it has to be Clark’s decision to reveal his secret to the world, not circumstance, not some girl with a smartphone and a good data plan…and no, he was NOT going to out his son…no matter the cost. And as you can see, comparing and contrasting young Clark’s face to the more mature Clark that tells this story to Lois…at first, he doesn’t understand…but now he does [Giving him a leg up on critics. – Ed.]. Oh, another thing…[Another next day edit? Yeah, thought so. – Ed.] we don’t exactly know Clark’s power levels here…do we? To this point in his life, we’ve seen that he developed his super senses in elementary school and his strength (and likely durability) in middle school…maybe early high school. The argument in the car prior to the tornado, as well as his University of Kansas t-shirt led me to believe Clark’s of college age at this point, heck, they might be on the way to taking him to or from KU. Later on in the film…we know that Clark only learns to fly after his visit to the Kryptonian scout ship and talking with Jor-El…and later on in his fight in Smallville do we see the first instances of super-speed. I think it’s safe to say that at the time of Jonathan’s demise, he doesn’t have his speed just yet…and probably didn’t get it until Jor-El’s encouragement of testing his boundaries. In making this hypothesis, we can avoid discussing how super-speed might have only made a bigger mess of things. To hop universes and quote Quicksilver from X-Men: Days of Future Past, “Whiiiiiiiplaaaaaash”…at the very least.
You know what’s great…especially after watching all the other Superman films prior to this one? [Didn’t know how to segue into the next point, did you? – Ed.] To FINALLY see a film that actually respects Lois’ intelligence. Yes, we kind of see this in Donner’s cut of Superman II where Lois uses a blank to force Clark to make the reveal, but Man of Steel really puts it on full display. In Superman II, Lois doesn’t out Superman because she loves him…awwwwww. In Man of Steel, Lois doesn’t out Superman because she sees what Jonathan and Perry White see…the world will NOT react favorably to such an upheaval of heretofore ‘established truths’. Another difference is that Donner’s Lois was already working with Kent day in and day out before she started to piece it together. Snyder’s Lois had to piece it all together, hunting down leads, combing through documents to find forgeries…you know, actual journalistic research. Lois…being a journalist? Who’da thunk it? Sadly, no other Superman film prior to this. Thus, we avoid a pitfall that has nearly always plagued Superman/Clark, he’s in love with Lois, but constantly has to lie to her. And yet, in most continuities, they still end up together. Look, I can tell you right now that a relationship built on a foundation of lies, no matter how small (and this is kind of a big one)...well, it usually doesn’t end well. [Yes, this comment is really kinda aimed at one person. Sure, it’s kinda true and any general reader will get it…but we’re looking directly at one particular someone. – Ed.] And having her in on the secret, as the movie displays, is actually a great help in integrating him into the world. Want a good example? Look, the movie doesn’t even go into whether or not Clark actually went to college…much less what he might have majored in. While that’s something I read into the aforementioned Jonathan Kent death scene…there really is no indication one way or the other. So there’s no way to know that Clark has a degree in Journalism that would help him get in at the Daily Planet by the end of the movie. You know what would, though? Having a reference and/or recommendation from a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist that’s already on staff. I think anyone can attest to the fact that the old phrase still applies…’it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’.
Before we get into the big finish, let’s circle back around to some of the strengths of the film before I got sidetracked by the xenophobia rant and all the other soapboxing that came after it. Okay, yeah, I’ll be realistic, there’s probably going to be more ‘complaints’ dispelled here too. I alluded to nods to John Byrne’s Post-Crisis work on the character…and I certainly don’t think it’s a coincidence that his initial 6 issue miniseries reintroducing Superman and this film share the same title: Man of Steel. And while it doesn’t harken back to his designs, the feeling of Byrne’s Krypton is very much alive and well in Snyder’s film, most notably the birthing matrices/genesis chambers. Snyder’s adaptation takes things a step further and shows a dystopic society in decay…echoing the state of their planet…while Byrne’s Krypton was a whitewashed sepulcher, a glistening jewel atop something rotting from within with an almost willed ignorance/complacency that would doom them all. The similarity comes in the form of something Byrne said about his Krypton, “Wendy (Pini) said that I had created a Krypton that deserved to blow up. And that was my intent.” Minor bitching interlude: some have taken issue with the fact that Jor-El, being a scientist, is also able to hold his own against Zod in a fight. While there are hints of it in the film, in watching some of the special features/making of materials for the film, you learn that Krypton is a fairly militaristic society (that, sadly, sounds familiar). In that context, it doesn’t fall too far outside of reason to think that Krypton likely has a term of mandatory military service for its citizens. Heck, a fair number of countries on our planet have that very same thing, so it’s safe to assume that if that were indeed the case on Krypton, Jor-El likely picked up his fighting skills there. Shoring that assumption up is the fact that film hints at a pre-existing relationship between Zod and Jor-El. Hrm. Where would be a good place to form a relationship with a general? We’ll get to the OTHER Zod bit in a little while…but, there again is another link to Byrne. No, it didn’t take place in his 6 issue relaunch…instead happening at the end of his run, but Byrne had Superman kill Zod back in 1988 for nearly identical reasons. Like I said, though, I’m getting ahead of myself. The gradual surfacing of his powers, also another narrative nod. And maybe that’s the thing. I’ll talk more about it in my State of the Franchise address…but this really is the Superman update we should’ve gotten back in the 90s…after the stench of Superman IV thinned out. Lastly, let’s hit the cast. I’ve already talked about Kostner as Jonathan Kent, but to go this long in the review without talking about Henry Cavill in the main role is…well…I feel like I owe you an apology. There’s a lot of similarity to how Reeve and Cavill approached the role and that’s a relief. Hey, you don’t necessarily have to be a fan or an uber-nerd to play these roles, but if the phrase, ‘it’s only a comic book character’ comes out of your mouth, you shouldn’t be here. And neither Cavill nor Reeve made that mistake. Cavill understood that outsider aspect of the character that I discussed earlier and maybe that’s why his performance resonated so much with me. And, yeah, having some resemblance to Reeve damn sure didn’t hurt either! Amy Adams plays a very capable Lois and does have a good rapport with Cavill when the two share the screen…the best example of this being their interplay in the interrogation room when Superman surrenders himself. Laurence Fishburne as Perry White is just one of those ingenious casting pulls and walks the fine line of being both hard as nails while also being sensible and sensitive perfectly. I can point to either the scenes where he and Lois are discussing her article on what she saw in Canada or to the scene on the streets of Metropolis where he’s trying to save Jenny the intern from being trapped under a pile of rubble as just how pitch perfect he is in the role…one I hope we see at least expanded a little bit in Batman v Superman. Also worth pointing out is Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Look, growing up in the Midwest, the fact that I can say that her performance reminded me so much of my own mom…not only accent and way of speaking but also the way she dressed and carried herself…it was kinda scary! Regardless of that…it’s also damn fine acting, so there you go. [Next day edit: To think I posted this without a mention of either Russell Crow as Jor-El or Ayelet Zurer as Lara is damn near criminal. In the interest of being brief, Crow is fantastic and, like Kostner, falls into that catagory of 'I can't believe they got him.' Zurer is equally great in her brief appearance as Lara...and I can't help but wonder if maybe 5 to 10 years ago she would've made an outstanding Wonder Woman. - Ed.]
Now…who’s ready for a fight? Yes, the biggest complaint about Man of Steel would be the final showdown in Metropolis between Superman and Zod with all the resultant destruction and culminating in the snapping of Zod’s neck. Sure, I could go for the low-hanging fruit and say “I didn’t hear anyone complaining about similar destruction in The Avengers or Transformers: Dark of the Moon”…but that really doesn’t prove anything aside from ‘you were okay with it there…but not here?’. I could certainly take a far more unpopular stance when people claim that the visuals looked too much like September 11th, 2001 and counter with “Yes, that was tragic…but that was 15 years ago…shouldn’t we be over that by now? Or…at the very least be in a place mentally and emotionally where we can discern that one was a real tragedy and the other is a fictional story?” But that only shows that I have an emotional healing factor akin to Wolverine’s physical one or that I’m an emotionally stunted, jaded asshole. [You know which one I’m going with. – Ed.] So, let’s try to go a bit deeper. Fact #1, we can’t really do anything about the destruction caused by the Black Zero’s gravity weapon…but even that damage wasn’t that widespread. Really, all the complaining starts with “Why didn’t Superman take the fight somewhere else to minimize collateral damage?”. Well, in order to do that, one has to be in a position within said fight to be able to guide or steer it…implying a degree of control, if not dominance, in the fisticuffs. This brings us to Fact #2…at no point was Superman in any sort of control over this fight. At least, not until the end anyway. Let’s look at the setup to this fight. Superman had just exhausted himself destroying the World Engine down in the Indian Ocean. While the film shows him waking up to sunlight, thus getting his recharge on, and I’m sure he remained in light on his flight back to Metropolis…the fact of the matter is that Superman is entering this fight having just come off a previous fight. And there’s a reason that real sports don’t do ‘doubleheaders’…because two contests in a row where athletes have to give 100%? Yeah, that’s not happening. [Congrats, you’ve just alienated any baseball fans we have reading the site. Oh, who am I kidding? That makes the assumption people actually read this. Carry on. – Ed.] So while Superman’s not at full strength, Zod continues to power up the longer he’s under the yellow sun…and Snyder shows this throughout the fight. Also, it’s pretty safe to say that the fight in Smallville was Superman’s first fight…ever. Remember the theme of most of the movie…Clark has had to keep this aspect of himself secret. That really wouldn’t allow for him to find out how to handle himself in a fight, now would it? Thus, not only is Superman not as strong, but he’s also inexperienced…going into a fight with a general that, I think we can safely assume, might have been in a fight or two. This results in a fight where really, the best Clark can manage is to hold his own. With Zod directing the tone, terms and, yes, location of the fight coupled with his very clearly stated intent to kill as many humans as possible, it’s very clear who’s responsible for the collateral damage. Next up, let’s consider Superman’s point of view here. There are two things that strike me. First, very obviously, is the numbers game. Yes, some people in Metropolis are going to die here…but that’s so that the remainder of the world’s population, in excess of 7 billion, can live. The needs of the many… Plus, I’d make the argument that Superman knows that stopping Zod is what he should be focusing on, let the military, police, fire and other civil authorities take care of getting the people out of harm’s way. [Day Job Interlude: The Incident Command Structure, or ICS, is the framework in which first responders, emergency managers and military and civil agencies respond to high profile incidents…which the attack on Metropolis would CERTAINLY be. The point of this structure is to organize help from many different agencies under one unified command or an incident commander…keeping everyone focused on their particular task or tasks to protect life, property and significant assets. Superman’s branch, in this instance, deals solely with stopping a genocidal rogue Kryptonian general…and he’s got his hands pretty full with that. – Ed.] I’m sure Superman wanted to save as many people as he could…but he was kinda already occupied, yes? In addition, with Zod clearly in control of the fight, anyone Superman did take the time to save, well, don’t you think Zod would’ve been right there to act on his stated intent of taking/killing as many of these humans as he could? Superman saving anyone at this point simply would’ve put whatever poor human(s) he did save…well…out of the frying pan and into the fire. There is one instance where Superman gets lucky and manages to take control of the fight from Zod…and it leads to the two crashing into what we’ll call Metro Central Station (because I really can’t tell if it’s a train station, a subway station…or what). Zod fires up the heat vision to threaten some bystanders and Superman’s got a good grip on him…what to do? Put your hands in front of his eyes? Refer back to when Superman was able to escape Faora’s clutches back in the Smallville fight by using his heat vision to burn her hands away. She’s clearly burned…even with her armor. That said, I think it’s pretty safe to say that if Superman does this, with his bare hands mind you, he’s gonna lose those hands and, ultimately, the fight. Fly the fight elsewhere? What, so that his beating can continue? Nope…Zod’s been in control of this fight for the majority, I highly doubt Superman would want to give up his only real advantage so far so that he can continue to introduce his face to Zod’s fist over and over. Sure, maybe consider a sleeper hold…but I’m guessing/hoping that Clark wasn’t much of a wrestling fan (although coming from the Midwest, he most certainly might have been…dammit). [You just kinda ruined some of the Superman mythos for yourself there…didn’t ya? – Ed.] Plus, the threat seemed pretty immanent…and who knows how long it would take for Zod to pass out. There really is only one decision…and that’s to make this momentary advantage count. End the threat. Snap. “But Superman doesn’t kill.” Bull. And I’m saying this as a card carrying huge Superman fan. Go back to the original Siegel and Shuster stuff. No, the only time the ‘no killing’ clause was enforced was when Fredric Wertham got his panties in a twist resulting in both Seduction of the Innocent and the Comics Code Authority. But even after the Comics Code, you’ve got Superman killing Zod in BOTH cuts of Superman II, Lester’s and Donner’s…and of course there’s the aforementioned time in 1988, where Post-Crisis accepts the role of judge, jury and executioner to three Kryptonian criminals that, like this incarnation of Zod, pledge that they’ll never stop killing until they themselves are killed. Max Landis’ story where the Joker tries to take on Superman in Metropolis sums it up best when Superman says “I don’t have a code. I just generally don’t kill people.”
Look, Superman doesn’t WANT to kill. Why would he? Jonathan and Martha did raise him with values, right? You know, good old fashioned Midwestern values? And since I too grew up in the Midwest, I can assure you that at no point was I encouraged to go out there ending lives. But there’s another important differentiation to be made that many people aren’t making. Yes, a life was ended prematurely…but this wasn’t murder. This was defense. But hey, let’s go to the vast repository of all knowledge on the internet, Wikipedia. Oh great Wiki…tell us about ‘justifiable homicide’. To paraphrase: “(Under criminal law) in certain circumstances, homicide is justified when it prevents greater harm to innocents. A homicide can only be justified if there is sufficient evidence to prove that it was reasonable to believe that the offending party posed an imminent threat to the life or well-being of another, in self-defense. To rule a justifiable homicide, one must objectively prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the victim intended to commit violence. A homicide in this instance is blameless and distinct from the less stringent criteria authorizing deadly force in stand your ground rulings.” Zod has clearly stated two things: he will not rest until he’s taken all of these earthlings from Kal-El and second that their fight ends only when one of the combatants is dead. I’m guessing this is a pretty damn strong case for justifiable homicide…don’t you think?
Whew. That’s a lot. You’re probably past due for me to sum up. Man of Steel is a worthy update to the character and an update that we should’ve received more than 20 years ago. This is Post-Crisis Superman. This is Superman for a modern age. If you don’t like the character himself, that’s fine. This movie wasn’t for you then. If you miss the bright and goofy tone of the Chris Reeve films, well, no one can ever take those away, they’re out there, go watch them. But Superman has to evolve just in the way we’ve allowed Batman to evolve. As a Superman fan all my life, I’m very proud to like this movie. This movie is Superman...and if you look past your preconceived notions, all the internet hullaballoo and whether or not it’s ‘cool’ to like this film, you’ll see it too.
Don’t take my word for it though. Check out ManofSteelAnswers.com or their YouTube channel for videos that illustrate some of the points I’ve mentioned as well as others that I left out! And if you REALLY want to get deep into the film, check out this half-hour thesis.