In Defense Of The Now Infamous 'Tornado Scene' In MAN OF STEEL

My thoughts on what is probably the single most controversial/ridiculed/misunderstood (take your pick) scene from a comic book movie in 2013. Read on for my take, and beware of SPOILERS if you haven't seen the movie (obviously).

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By Sentry - 12/23/2013

This is the scene that has unequivocally divided fans down the middle and has even prompted some diehard Superman supporters to admit that it was stupid and nonsensical which I find really disappointing, personally I think it was one of the most poignant scenes from a comic book movie in recent years.

People will inevitably bring up Jonathan's death by heart attack in the original Superman movie as the perfect example of how to deal with the situation of mortality when it comes to Superman but there is really no specific way Jonathan should die, both of Clark's parents died of undisclosed causes when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster first wrote his back story, they left it totally ambiguous so any interpretation is just as legitimate as any other.

Let's just establish what purpose Jonathan's death scene in Superman The Movie served, that Superman was based on the silver age Superman, the strongest Superman that's ever existed, he was practically an omnipotent and omnipresent God capable of doing anything and everything without even breaking a sweat, so it was important that Jonathan's death scene in Superman The Movie demonstrated that even Superman couldn't fix everything, it was important to show both him and us that he was not a God, his powers had limits.

Everyone knows that David Goyer likes to write in themes, Batman Begins (Fear), The Dark Knight (Chaos), The Dark Knight Rises (Pain) and the Man of Steel (Sacrifice) so keep that in mind, it's important to understanding what purpose Jonathan's death scene served in the Man of Steel.

When Jonathan was talking to a young Clark Kent about saving those kids in the bus, he said,

"There's more at stake here than just our lives Clark and the lives of those around us."

Retrospectively, this was clearly foreshadowing the tornado scene which would drive the entire narrative of the movie forward, Jonathan sacrificed himself for Clark and if you want to know what Jonathan was so afraid of, just watch Flashpoint Paradox, his fears were justified, Clark was still too young, too malleable, too inexperienced, too impulsive and too clueless to survive the weight of the world on his shoulders and Jonathan knew it, Clark was still just a boy at heart.

Now, remember what I said about how Jonathan's death scene in Superman The Movie helped demonstrate the limits of Superman's powers, this was especially important because that silver age version of Superman could sneeze away entire solar systems, manhandle planets and smash through dimensions but Superman in the Man of Steel was considerably less powerful so the same approach wasn't as necessary as it was in Superman The Movie.

In the context of the Man of Steel, Jonathan's death scene is all about sacrifice, not only Jonathan's sacrifice but it was also setting up Clark's sacrifice later on in the movie, learning limitations to his powers mattered little in the Man of Steel because he wasn't so incredibly overpowered to begin with but to learn about sacrifice was paramount for the narrative and development of Superman. Clark sacrificed himself, at least according to Jonathan, for the Earth and in the end he sacrificed Krypton and the future of his own kin, for us, for Earth.

The fact that Clark could had done A, B and C in the tornado scene is what made that scene so strong, It was a conscious decision by Jonathan and it was not a fluke of destiny ie a heart attack, basically it made the man of steel who he is and who he will become, Earth's greatest champion, because let’s face it, when Clark finally becomes Superman he sacrifices himself for us 100% and I think Jonathan gave him the courage to do that, Jonathan taught Clark his most defining lesson through his own death and I think that's rather poetic.

Clark sacrificing himself for the safety of Earth when Zod first shows up demanding Kal El present himself or else, Superman destroying the world engine on what was very likely a suicide mission, Superman destroying the scout ship, the genesis chamber which was Krypton's only chance at living again and Superman ultimately killing Zod, the last of his brethren, it was all about sacrifice, that's what Jonathan's death taught Clark, selflessness in the face of insurmountable odds which is the absolute epitome of Superman and what he represents.

Jonathan's death scene was the underlying pulse of the entire movie, Sacrifice is what the Man of Steel was all about, Superman sacrificing himself, his people and Krypton for us, the ungrateful humans, now that's some powerful storytelling.

Jonathan taught Clark his greatest, most valuable and most painful lesson through his own death, whether Jonathan realized it at the time or not simply doesn't matter, both death scenes were very well done, they were both set up to illustrate two very different narrative structures that would indelibly shape the last son of Krypton into our hero.

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Nick56 - 12/23/2013, 11:32 AM
I thought it was a great scene, that I likely didn't appreciate as much until the second viewing. Its a great movie and this was a good read man!
EdgyOutsider - 12/23/2013, 11:34 AM
One of the least impactful and least emotional scenes I have ever seen.
Knightrider - 12/23/2013, 11:37 AM
I didn't mind the scene and respected what it was trying to get across, just thought it could have been tweaked slightly to make it better.

However, that being said, I preferred the idea from the Reeve's movie where he died of natural causes. For me it was just this powerful reminder that his powers can't save everybody and there will always be times where he will have to face death.

Overall both scenes had great meanings to them, just felt the latter was handled better.
write33 - 12/23/2013, 11:37 AM
interesting perspective.......I'm a lifelong Superman fan and have serious issues with this movie, but NOT this scene. I thought it worked well and was highly effective sequence...Superman not saving a single citizen in Metropolis / the filmmakers glossing over the destruction and having Clark just show up for a job? that bothered(s) me far more.
themidnightking - 12/23/2013, 11:41 AM
I'm with knightrider on this one.
SageMode - 12/23/2013, 11:47 AM
He was still able to get away from the tornado, even with his messed up leg. And how does someone erode in a tornado and not be swept away?

That scene was just there for feels. I didn't feel sorry for J.Kent at all.
MexicanSuperman - 12/23/2013, 11:59 AM
@Knightrider, I don't think the Pa Kent's heart attack death scene had that much of a impact for the entire film. We never get to know much about Pa Kent at all in the film, and he isn't referenced at all after his death unlike in MoS. So it's kind of hard to care about Pa Kent in Superman The Movie.
knocturnalzen10 - 12/23/2013, 12:26 PM

same can be said for uncle ben in amazing spiderman............ he's old enough to know better

liked the pa kent death a lil but wish they kept the heart situation because it had more layers to it.
point of it was how amazing an powerful clark is they're somethings he can't stop
ReeferInferno - 12/23/2013, 12:34 PM

It was an utterly pointless sacrifice. If Superman won't even save his (adopted) father, who will he save? If ever there was a time to reveal yourself to the world, that was it.

I just don't get the fear of being found out. What could the army have done. It's pretty sad people actually think this scene was good imo.
ReeferInferno - 12/23/2013, 12:36 PM
Remind me why Clark couldn't have just saved the damn dog in the first place?
nighteagle - 12/23/2013, 12:39 PM
would have been better if he sacrificed himself for trying to save another human… i blame goyer for not being a good enough rider to elevate it from a dog to another human life. because you know, clark needs his dog more than he needs a father… really made the whole scene less impactful... frick goyer.. that is all.
McNyagano - 12/23/2013, 2:36 PM
"The whole movie, in my humble opinion, is one filled with the greatest of intentions, and none of which were executed correctly or even payed off. Is it heavily thematic, yes. Is it good, no."

My thoughts exactly.
JamesMan - 12/23/2013, 3:09 PM
If you're one of those idiots who can't fathom why Clark revealing himself to the world at a young age before he's ready is so bad, I point you to the Flashpoint Paradox movie. Maybe then you'll have a better understanding.

pesmerga44 - 12/23/2013, 3:18 PM
I appreciate what you are trying to get across and I can understand the ideas you are putting out there. I don't personally agree with the way Johnathan Kent was portrayed but that is neither here nor there. My biggest issue with the tornado scene is that is written absolutely horribly and makes no sense why Clark wasn't out there to save the dog. There was plenty of time for a young twenty something year old man to go out and save the dog. The car landing and pinning John's leg if that was Clark him lifting the car people would think the wind lifted it again and he gets away. It just makes no sense that a man in his late 40's is out there when his much younger and healthier son can do it.

You know what is an easy fix to the scene to make sense why Clark wasn't the one to save the dog. Man is hit by flying debris knocking him out Clark needs to carry him to safety then they remember the dog. John tells Clark he is the only one that get the man to safety and to take him and his mother to the underpass and he will get the dog. Boom makes perfect sense why Clark doesn't go out for the dog.

I also disagree that this is a perfect representation of how he can't save everyone because he could easily save his dad. There is nothing stopping him beyond his love and respect of his dad's wishes. Sorry John dying of a heart attack especially in front of Clark is a much better representation of that because even with having all this amazing power that allows him to do so much. Having the power to move planets, of flight much faster then sound, and being nigh invulnerable. To have to watch as your dad dies being absolutely powerless to stop it is so much more powerful a story device then the tornado scene could ever be even if it was written well.
Reasonnnn - 12/23/2013, 5:05 PM
Great ideas, terrible execution.
Reasonnnn - 12/23/2013, 5:06 PM
because Goyer sucks, couldn't be subtle even if his life depended on it
ManCalledSting - 12/23/2013, 5:24 PM
Oh look, the marvel hypocrites are here. Anywho, great article, and a great scene.
pesmerga44 - 12/23/2013, 5:32 PM

So I am a hypocrite because I have a legitimate issue with the scene and explained my issue with the scene?
Reasonnnn - 12/23/2013, 5:37 PM
@Pesmerga44 that's all OldGreg can say because he doesn't have a civil response to your opinion
VIRILEMAN - 12/23/2013, 5:47 PM
I was disappointed in this film. Ii was expecting a 10/10 but ended up with a 7/10. They forgot to add the character development when they put it all that action.
VIRILEMAN - 12/23/2013, 5:48 PM
And the tornado scene was stupid. Get under a car or something. Don't just stand there like a bone head. What kind of father tells his son he should be selfish and not save a bus full of kids? Superman didn't become Superman because of his father like in the comics. He became Superman INSPITE of his father.
SnapperCarr - 12/23/2013, 6:23 PM
This scene was really stupid.
feedonatreefrog - 12/23/2013, 6:40 PM
Whoa. I had no idea that people didn't like this scene.

Everyone I know loved this part of the movie.
Platinum - 12/23/2013, 10:23 PM
People seriously keep comparing this to Flashpoint?

Sigh...It's not like Superman landing in the middle of a populated area had nothing to do with it nope not at all.
Dusk - 12/23/2013, 10:36 PM
You so-called fanboys are [frick]in gay
campblood - 12/23/2013, 10:37 PM
Jonathan's death was very powerful and moving
redcapeguy - 12/23/2013, 10:40 PM
Too many bitching. Entering a thread like this is like drowning in pussies.

wavehunter - 12/23/2013, 10:42 PM
@ Sentry - Well done, sir. I would also like to add that the Kent's protected Clark by holding him back on using his powers because the government would use him as a weapon.
bigdannymac - 12/23/2013, 10:51 PM
How about a SPOILER ALERT next time!!!!!!

Haha I kid, I kid

I honestly didn't have any issue with this scene at all. It didn't pull on any emotional strings for me personally, but I understood the reasoning, and it played a major factor in Clark wanting to protect his secret for as long as he could
pintoman - 12/23/2013, 11:01 PM
I don't think the scene worked how they wanted it to work. Given the context of the rest of the young Clark scenes, to me the tornado scene said "never use your powers in public". Which I certainly don't understand.

loki668 - 12/23/2013, 11:11 PM
bigdannymac - 12/23/2013, 11:17 PM
@pintoman - That's exactly the point. That's what Pa Kent was trying to teach Clark

When Clark said "What was I supposed to do, let them drown" (or however it was worded) and Pa said "Maybe". It's the same point.

Pa was trying to protect Clark. He knew that once people saw what he could do, he'd be labeled a "Freak". The whole point of the movie was "How would the world react if Superman were real".

Think about that - How WOULD the world react? It would shatter everything. It would change EVERYTHING. All the worlds religions. The entire world would shift it's focus on this "being".. this "alien" and would lock him away, and do test after test. It would be total chaos.

His foster parents would be locked up and treated as terrorists who betrayed there country by keeping an alien among them.

So Pa had very good reason to keep his powers a secret. To me.. it made perfect sense.
pesmerga44 - 12/23/2013, 11:40 PM

Oh stop it with that "haters gonna hate" bullshit about as tired and overused as Yolo and other shit memes. If people give reasons why they dislike something and don't attack somebody then you should respect that and at least be adult enough to answer back with your reasoning. If you aren't adult enough to answer back in nothing but a stupid meme be like a good child and sit there quietly.
redcapeguy - 12/24/2013, 12:04 AM

Well, if you are as tired as those memes, you can just IMAGINE how some of us are tired of the constant MOS bitching. Get your adult head out of your adult ass and perhaps you can see things in a more objective manner?

redcapeguy - 12/24/2013, 12:14 AM
Also, that is the first time I've posted that "haters gonna hate" meme in any thread here. And it wasn't even you who that was intended for. Perhaps a nerve was struck? Either way, don't get me wrong, I've read all criticisms and I've answered them in previous threads.

And for the adult issue, I'm perfectly capable of being mature and talking in a reasonable manner. I've done that countless of times here. Apparently though, some people refuse to hear the other side and just like hearing their own voice. But hey, seven months just isn't enough right?

pesmerga44 - 12/24/2013, 12:26 AM

"Haters gonna hate" seems to be the go to answer for people who can't answer back on this site. Both sides of the fence use it and it is annoying that people think it is some kind of actual answer. Been done to death on every forum. I have no problem answering back to people who respond but don't just throw down some meme as your post it comes off as juvenile.
kornstar - 12/24/2013, 12:30 AM
Loved the scene and the movie!

As someone else said, I don't know one person in the real world who had an issue with this scene.......just whinging trolls on the internet who remind us every chance they get that they didn't like this scene or the movie!
pesmerga44 - 12/24/2013, 12:30 AM
I didn't bring up this editorial I just answered it that is what editorials are all about. Some one makes an editorial I have every right to come on it and make my case for my thoughts on the matter. If you are so sick of people talking about MOS then don't come to the editorials about MOS. Editorials on movies I am sick of hearing about I just don't go to or answer them simple as that.
pesmerga44 - 12/24/2013, 12:49 AM

Awesome you and your friends are the representatives of the entire world awesome that is so cool. I mean if you guys loved the movie everyone must have right? It is not like other people can dislike the movie and have legitimate complaints about the movie and have issues with it right?

I am gonna stop you right there before you call me a "whining troll" I am in between liking the movie and feeling it was okay. Though I as an intelligent human being can see flaws with the movie that when someone brings up points about the movie I disagree with I will answer back.
redcapeguy - 12/24/2013, 12:49 AM

Ah so this just proves you're one of those. So you've not really read my reply. I've stated that I've replied to this countless of times already, but you've chosen to disregard that part for whatever reason.

Like I've said, I'm quite tired of the bitching. And as you've felt about the meme, the whole whining is just plain annoying. But you know, pot calling the kettle black? I've no problem answering your answer. In fact, I'll do it now. The reason why Jonathan told Clark to go instead with his mother is because Jonathan is a father and a husband. As a father, he is suppose to protect them. He was worried about them. I didn't really think that was such a difficult concept to understand, but apparently to some people it is.

Piece of advice too. Next time, you might want to not tell people how to act. This is the internet. You're lucky I'm more tolerant.

Also, haters really do gonna hate.

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