Is MAN OF STEEL Really Just The Same Story As BATMAN BEGINS?
Try to guess which movie I am describing, Man of Steel or Batman Begins. You won't be able to, because all of these statements apply equally to both movies! Read on for my thoughts and be sure to leave your own in the usual place.
Which movie are the following statements describing, Man of Steel, or Batman Begins? After the first list, there is an explanation of how the description applies to both movies.
1. The movie starts in a location that has a bleak, foreign landscape, home to a society that operates under a perverse moral code. The members of this society think they are being righteous, but the audience perceives them as being morally wrong.
2. The villain and the hero are originally friends, but the villain wants to overthrow society and forces the hero to make a moral choice, and the the hero rebuffs the villain's offer to join him. Both the hero and the villain recognize the same problem with society, but the villain goes too far with his solution. The hero gets away by fighting the villain and his minions. The hero wins, but lets the villain live.
3. The society is destroyed pyrotechnically.
4. Flashbacks tell the story of the hero's childhood.
5. The hero has panic attacks as a child. A parent calmly and patiently talks him down.
6. The hero's secret lair is entered through a cave.
7. The hero is an orphan. The hero witnesses his father's death, which molds the hero into who he is. The hero's father serenely reassures the hero as he dies.
8. The villain induces hallucinations in the hero and his girlfriend.
9. The villain's plan: A towering structure in the middle of the city is going to emit a destructive force. The tower must come into contact with another device in order for the destructive force to be released. Preventing that contact will foil the scheme. The destruction will replace the old society with a new, superior society.
10. The villain is defeated by the hero and his friends using a two-pronged attack. Each group is working in a different location and is operating on faith that the other prong of the attack will succeed, but with no communication between prongs. Part of this plan is to give the hero's vehicle to the leader of the authorities.
11. In the middle of combat, the hero is told he cannot win because his goodness makes him weak.
12. When the hero and the villain confront each other, the villain explains that he must do what he is doing as a matter of principle. Then they have their final battle. The villain dies.
13. Epilogue in which the hero and the leader of the authorities come to an understanding.
Here are the explanations for each point:
1. Krypton is portrayed as being a harsh, barren wasteland, like Tibet in Batman Begins. In Batman Begins, the League of Shadows is dedicated to a version of justice that they perceive as pure and uncompromising, but which the audience sees as too harsh and unforgiving, and which is wrongfully applied to whole cities rather than individuals. In Man of Steel, the society of Krypton has an inverted moral code that sees natural birth as sacrilegious and has outlawed it.
2. Jor El is Bruce Wayne in Tibet. Clark Kent/Superman is Bruce Wayne in Gotham. Zod is Ra's al Ghul. In Batman Begins, Ra's al Ghul befriends Bruce Wayne, but when Ra's al Ghul asks Bruce Wayne to kill a prisoner and then join him in his quest to destroy Gotham City, Bruce Wayne rebuffs him, recognizing that his methods are too extreme. They both agree on the disease that is rotting society, crime, corruption, and apathy, but they disagree about the cure. Bruce Wayne sets fire to the League of Shadow's fortress and fights his way out, but saves Ra's al Ghul's life.
In Man of Steel, both Jor EL and Zod agree that the government destroyed their planet. Zod wants to overthrow the government so he can rule over the last few minutes of the planet's existence. Zod greets Jor El, revealing that they are old friends, and asks Jor El to join his pointless coup. Jor El is appalled by Zod's actions, not because they are a complete waste of time, but because they are too extreme. Strangely, he does not think destroying a planet is enough to justify a coup. Jor EL fights Zod's minions to escape, then fights Zod at the launch facility. He knocks out Zod, choosing not to finish him off, then turns his back to Zod so he can operate the control panel that launches the baby into space. Zod wakes up and backstabs Jor El, which puts a big smile on Jor El's face, because he knows that he won't have to see the ridiculous "punishment" that Zod and his minions receive. Zod and company are "punished" for their treason by being the only Kryptonians given an escape ship off of the planet.
3. The League of Shadow's fortress burns down, and Krypton blows up. Granted, that is required for Superman's origin. However, the movie could have started on Earth and the audience could have learned the backstory in the same way Clark does.
4. Bruce Wayne is an adult at the beginning of Batman Begins. The childhood traumas that motivated him are revealed in flashbacks. Clark Kent is an adult when the story shifts to Earth. The traumatic experiences that formed his character are revealed in flashbacks.
5. Bruce Wayne is afraid of bats. His father adopts a mellow, soothing voice when bats make Bruce freak out. Clark Kent freaks out and locks himself into a closet because of sensory overload. His mother adopts a mellow, soothing voice to calm him down.
6. Batman has the Bat-Cave(TM). Superman finds his spaceship of solitude by burning a cave through a glacier.
7. Both Batman and Superman are orphans. Granted, Superman has always been an orphan, but Man of Steel makes Superman lose his father twice, which is not required by canon, but the second death is required to parallel Bruce Wayne's father's death. Thomas Wayne gets shot and insensitively tells Bruce "its OK" in a calm voice. Johnathan Kent holds his palm up while a tornado approaches, at first to tell Clark to stay put, but then it became more like a patting motion, as if he is trying to tell Clark he is fine with his pointless, gruesome death and everything will be OK.
8. Ra's al Ghul uses a special flower to induce hallucinations in Bruce Wayne to show him his greatest fear. Later, Ra's supplies Dr. Crane with the hallucinogen, who exposes Bruce to a second dose against his will and exposes Rachel. Zod uses a device that gets into Superman's head in an attempt to find the "Codex". The device induces a trippy nightmare. Lois Lane mentions that she had the same thing done to her.
9. In Batman Begins, there is a water hub underneath Wayne Tower. When the microwave emitter crashes into Wayne Tower, it will cause the contaminated water to vaporize and turn everyone crazy. Ra's al Ghul is doing this to build a new civilization upon Gotham's ashes.
In Man of Steel, the space ship splits in two. One piece becomes a tower that lands in the middle of Metropolis. The other piece lands in the Indian Ocean and the two form a connection. Superman has to break the link between the two parts of the space ship to foil the scheme. Zod is doing this to replace human civilization with Kryptonian civilization.
10. Batman goes after Ra's al Ghul on the train. He gives his Tumbler to Gordon, who uses it to destroy the train tracks. Superman gives his space ship to Colonel Hardy, who will use it to take out the ship in Metropolis, while Superman takes care of the ship in the Indian Ocean.
11. Ra's al Ghul repeatedly mentions "doing what is necessary," telling Bruce Wayne that he lacks the courage to do all that is necessary. In the final battle, he asks "have you finally learned to do what is necessary?" Faora-Ul tells Superman that his morals make him too weak to beat her.
12. Both Zod and Ra's al Ghul think they are doing the right thing. They are not trying to be evil or selfish. Zod explains that everything he does is fulfilling his genetic programming, then they fight for the last time. Ra's al Ghul explains that he does everything in the name of true justice, then he leaves to start his plan. Batman chases after him and they have their final battle.
13. Batman talks to Gordon on the roof in the last scene of the movie, where they agree to work together. Superman talks to General Swanwick in the last scene of the movie. After the General utters his obscenity, Superman assures him that he is not a threat.
Bonus scene from the Dark Knight: The interrogation scene in Man of Steel has parallels to the interrogation scene in the Dark Knight. There is a conversation between two characters in the interrogation room, neither of whom are government officials, while the actual authorities watch behind a two-way mirror. The person being interrogated gets the better of his captors (he wins the interrogation).
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