An Interesting Counter Argument To MAN OF STEEL'S Famous Scene
It's time to put a nail into the coffin of the Man of Steel controversy once and for all. Rokyn here will present an unbiased and objective view on Man of Steel and it's issues. Check it out if you think your hate is justified.
Hello fellow CBM members, I’m sure by now you’re tired of the Man of Steel fiasco and the effect the movie has had on fans, people, critics, and even other writers. I am going to tackle the issue of Snyder/Goyer hate, the Man of Steel situation, and some brief thoughts so bare with me as I jump around these issues. Now, I’m aware that I am known to be a DC fanboy and such, however, I am not going to judge this issue through subjective lens but rather through objectivity and critical thinking (I’m looking at you SupahMan, 0megaDaGod, MAC, and JediPhilosopher, mantinium , and the Marvel fanboys). And no I am not comparing it to the Donner films or Superman Returns version like people are doing because it would be unfair to compare a movie that was set out to be different in the first place. Plus the Superman II Zod death scene was an editing error in the first place. This is also a response to SupahMan’s recent article “What Does The MAN OF STEEL Reveal About Us As A Society?”, which was a good article but based on poor facts and research (Like really? You’re basing society’s views through the lens of your little brother?). I’ve seen kids who hated the movie or got bored of it and some that didn’t agree with it but liked it. Regardless I can’t make statements that judge society’s view based on just a group of kids compared to billions of people. Anyhow, I digress so let’s get started.
Let’s establish where I stand before you chew my article into bits:
Let’s take off our objective glasses for a bit and explore what I think about the film overall. In my honest to God opinion, this was a really good movie BUT it has numerous flaws when judged objectively. Subjectively I can say, “Oh this isn’t MY Superman so let me hate on this because it’s not the character I know”. If I say things like this, I might as well ignore 65+ years of comics and the different versions the character has been presented as. That proper and objective way to judge these films is to say “I know this isn’t my version of the character, but I can understand why changes were made”.” I also can, in an unbiased and objectively way, critique this film knowing that this is a different version of the character. I may not agree with it but I can say it was WELL DONE”. (AND THIS APPLIES TO AGE OF ULTRON, STAR TREK, THE DARK KNIGHT TRILOGY, AND MAN OF STEEL COMPLAINTS) Having different versions is a good thing; it opens up NEW storytelling and opens up NEW possibilities for the character. That’s where creativity shines. It may not follow the source material and it may not be the YOUR version of the character but you can still appreciate the differences and judge objectively. Hence, that’s WHY I can say I love and can see the greatness of the Adam West Batman, Michael Keaton Batman, and Christian Bale Batman even though they are NOTHING like my favorite version; the Kevin Conroy Batman. There will be different versions in the future and maybe one of them could be your version. Like Goyer stated a week ago, he can’t base the movie on what the fans want because he hinders storytelling. AND IT DOES. Prime example look at Age of Ultron. People had already guessed out that Antman would build Ultron and that this person and this would show up but then Whedon comes out and saids they are making a new original story. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact I praise Whedon, Goyer, Shane Black, and Snyder for having the balls to change stuff in the source material. It’s a positive thing for the creative process. Hell if they made Joker into a woman or made a new character, I wouldn’t mind because it’s something new and if it’s good then cheers!
Put on your objective glasses back on and now let’s see where Zach Snyder and David S. Goyer stand with Superman, shall we?
Zach Snyder is good choice for directing Superman. He may not be the best choice but he certainly isn’t a walking headless chicken. Zach Snyder has stated numerous times again, that he LOVES Smallville and he deliberately put references of the show in the movie. Now with that in mind, we understand that Smallville wasn’t the best at times but it did develop the Clark that many people know and love. Rather, I should say the version most popular with people. Now with Man of Steel, some complaints have stated that the film is dull, boring, and cold. If anything, that’s a taste issue (which is subjective). To judge this, you have to understand where Zach wanted to take the character in the first place. I quote from Zach,
”All the movies I've made, I've made with a slight bit of irony. Not even a slight bit. A fair amount. But the ironic part of [ 'Man of Steel'] is that it's not ironic. You know what I mean? No tongue in cheek, no winking at the camera, no apologies. It's Superman. He deserves that. In my mind, we really had to act as if no films had been made. It's like we just found this comic book lying on the ground under a bed, and we were like, This would be a cool movie.
[For me] Superman is this adopted son, this immigrant story, this guy trying to find his place in the world. What's his purpose, what is he supposed to do, how is he supposed to be?”
Zach obviously wanted Superman to be taken serious, to be seen as an epic, as a myth, and it translated to the film like that regardless if you liked it or not. It’s not about being gritty, dark, or brooding, it’s about making a quality, serious, and realistic film and that was his intention. If anything it had an interesting science fiction first contact premise. It’s not Ironman, Spiderman, nor Hulk, it’s Superman. Zach knows who the character is and he won’t shit on the rest of you just to do it. Putting Superman in a position where he has to make a choice of killing the antagonist is NOT shitting on the fans, it’s putting Superman in a place and situation where we have never seen before. It’s balsy, creative, and new.
Now, Goyer in the other hand is known to be a big Batman fan, former comic book writer, and known for bringing well received versions of Blade and Batman to the silver screen. Now, I didn’t say well done, I said well received. One of the problems in Man of Steel is the levity that was put in the film was hit or miss; making the film dull for some people. Joss Whedon is a genius and master when it comes to levity and real human interaction. Goyer needs to improve on comedy and levity, dialog, and piece his structure together a bit better but hopefully Zach and Ben can help him. He’s not a bad writer; he’s got a lot of potential and he can do better like he did on Batman Begins. He also needs to develop the characters a bit more in the sequel but I’ll delve into this a bit later. Let’s move on. Many of the famous Batman books and ideas that the TDK trilogy drew from came directly out of Goyer’s mind. Nolan hired the guy for this very reason because he knew the character better and because he knew which versions of the character were most appropriate. Goyer also has stated that he would like to see characters such as Metallo, Brainaic, Mongul, Darksied, and maybe even Bizarro but in a different way. To do understand where Goyer is going with this you have to understand his ideology first. He and Snyder have stated that they want to establish and develop the Man of Steel into what many people know of him today. That is why Superman isn’t exactly the Clark that people have known throughout history till the very end of the movie. It is said that we understand ourselves better when we go through rough experiences and that it’s those experiences that shape us into the people that we are. Sometimes we may learn from our parents that good morals and good virtue is the right thing to stand by but we can only know so much from knowledge compared to having experiences. I’ll also argue that Superman might be someone to strive to be like but he is certainly NOT perfect. The Justice League animated series perfectly captures that. Superman can make mistakes like us but what makes him different is that he LEARNS from those mistakes and strives to do BETTER. That’s Clark right there; the hardworking and virtuous man from Smallville. How did he get there? He went through the experiences that shaped him to who he is. That’s one of my reasons to why I believe a properly addressed sequel will make Man of Steel better for people. They have to show him learning from the mistakes of the first one. (And also that Zach and David are learning too, ironically.)
Now let’s transition to the Superman killing situation:
Here is Zach’s take on the death of Zod;
"In the original version of the script, Zod just got zapped into the Phantom Zone. But David, Chris and I had long talks about it, and I said that I really feel like we should kill Zod, and that Superman should kill him. The 'Why?' of it for me was that if was truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained… I wanted to create a scenario where Superman, either he's going to see [Metropolis' citizens] chopped in half, or he's gotta do what he's gotta do."Goyer agreed, but Nolan was not convinced. The writer recalls, "[Chris] originally said, 'There's no way you can do this.'" But Goyer checked with DC Comics, they approved, and Goyer says, "I came up with this idea of heat vision and these people about to die, and I wrote the scene, gave it to Chris, and he said, 'Okay you've convinced me.'
Here’s Goyer’s take:
"We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial, It's not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren't just doing it to be cool. We felt, in the case of Zod, we wanted to put the character in an impossible situation and make an impossible choice. This is one area, and I've written comic books as well and this is where I disagree with some of my fellow comic book writers - 'Superman doesn't kill'. It's a rule that exists outside of the narrative and I just don't believe in rules like that. I believe when you're writing film or television, you can't rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film. So the situation was, Zod says 'I'm not going to stop until you kill me or I kill you.' The reality is no prison on the planet could hold him and in our film Superman can't fly to the moon, and we didn't want to come up with that crutch. Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he's not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he's Superman and because people idolise him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard."
Woah buddy, Goyer is NOT saying Superman should start killing all his villains but rather that the no-kill rule CAN SOMETIMES hinder a story. It can limit the creative process like I said above. At the same time Goyer said that this will affect him in onto the next films. He will have to hold himself to a higher standard which is what Superman is all about, right? Not about making the easy choice but making the right and virtuous choice.
Now, this origin story is Superman still figuring out who he is as a hero, and that includes what he may eventually end up standing for. Plus, you can't ignore the fact that Superman is clearly extremely pissed after he kills Zod especially screaming to no one, knowing that he's killed the last of his own race. Zach and Goyer clearly intended to establish Superman’s no killing rule with this but people also state the Clark doesn’t have to figure things out because he should already know growing up through the lessons the Kents gave him. He does in the story. We see it when bearded Clark rescues the men on the oil rig, when young Clark rescues the school bus and then goes back for Pete Ross, the jerk who was harassing him. We see it when Clark restrains himself from having at Kenny Braverman and his lot, who bully him for no apparent reason other than it serves the story. We see it when he saves the pilot from Faora, Colonel Hardy as well, and the soldier that fell out of the helicopter. We see it when he’s holding back in his fight with Faora and against Zod. He also is aware of his mistakes at times. When he looks back at Pete when he crashes through the IHOP, when he looks at the destruction of the truck that Zod launched at him in Metropolis, when he tries to take the Smallville fight with Nam-Ek somewhere else but be taken back down by Faora, and when he tries to take the fight to space but be dragged down with Zod. Oh and BY THE WAY THE FIGHT WITH ZOD LASTED ONLY 4 MINUTES IN THE FILM NOT 45 MINUTES. That’s a fact.
Here’s the problem. During the fight with Zod, the person causing all the destruction clearly WAS Zod. The one scene that has problems is where Superman takes Zod’s head through the windows of a building. You don’t know if anyone was in that building and this fight could have resonated better with people had Superman been dual tasking saving people, preventing destruction, and then finally he unleashes his full strength at Zod. Though, the collateral damage is bound to happen between these two. Hell it even happened between Shazam and Superman in the Justice League animated series yet no one complains about it. When you’re fighting someone your same strength level and that has gone insane on killing EVERYONE, you have to confront him and divert him till he gives up. He HAS to fight him in that situation. Had Zod been zapped into the Phantom Zone, then it wouldn’t have been an issue. When you have someone trying to kill you and others and he’s chasing you around the city, you’re bound to confront him regardless. If Superman decided to fly to the ocean, Zod would’ve stayed and gone into a killing spree in Metropolis. Superman has to chase him in order to stop him. It wasn’t that Superman didn’t care about people; it’s that he had to stop Zod who became, in a figurative way, a monster. Diplomacy couldn’t have been option and if it was; Superman would have taken it that option.
Here I quote from a reviewer from the Superman homepage who perfectly captures the Zod neck scene:
“Firstly, after Superman's plan works and all the Kryptonians, save Zod, are sent back into the Phantom Zone so they can't cause any further destruction, Zod brings the fight to Superman. It's not like Clark has much time to react, or plan, or take the fight somewhere safer, he's been pretty busy saving the world; so when Zod attacks him he really has no choice but to try to stop the madman as quickly as he can.
While it can't be easy fighting a super-soldier with the same powers as you whose been trained to kill in defense of Krypton since he was manufactured as a defender of all things Kryptonian, Superman knows he must do it. The battle takes place in a clearly evacuated portion of the city because Zod's gravity beam had been active for hours before being destroyed. People are shown leaving the buildings and running away from the Black Zero and it only makes sense that they'd exit the area, "feet don't fail me now" style. Wouldn't you? Sure, there are a few people shown to be lookiloos, but there always will be in this type of situation."
"Though during the fight, Zod throws Superman through buildings, Superman is often shown as trying to limit destruction. Not that it's always in his power to do so, as Zod is just as powerful and, during the fight, even gains his heat vision. Zod's heat vision destroys another seemingly empty building and the fight goes on. We soon learn that Zod, having been trained to acclimate to any surrounding quicker than others, having been bred to do so, in fact, has mastered his new super-senses and can even fly. Zod has a great line about Clark having learned "on a farm" but Clark keeps fighting his seemingly superior foe. When it finally comes to a point where Clark has the upper hand, Zod makes it clear he will keep fighting until dead, which will ultimately lead to much greater death and destruction on Earth. To prove his point, Zod activates his heat vision, intent on killing a family in a Grand Central-like station who, along with a handful of other people, haven't yet managed to evacuate but perhaps were looking to hide underground, as Superman begs the General to stop. When Zod will not comply with Clark's pleas, and it's evident they've fought to a point where neither can fly away nor break free from the other, Clark does the only thing he can do and he twists the General's head away from the helpless family which breaks Zod's neck and ends the battle.”
Now let’s see some common complaints or some suggestions:
“Superman should have flown him out of there”
Yeah and then what? Continue punching each other till their brains pop out? Lingering the fight longer that some people had problems with?
“Knock him out unconscious”
Yeah and when he wakes up? Then what?
“How can he just snap his neck? WTF is up with the power levels of these guys” Well when Zod “levels up”, he pretty much is at a close strength level to Superman but not as strong due to Superman living on Earth for 33 years. Superman has him at an advantage and it is well stated in the comics that Kryptonians can break each others necks and Doomsday could as well to Superman. It differs in the comics but it makes sense.
“Why no kryptonite?”
Well umm yeah they haven’t found any…
Here’s a suggestion but it would have required time. Make a facility with the atmosphere of Krypton like the Black Zero and that would have weaken Zod. Or even like in Young Justice Superboy, even though he’s Kryptonian, has to be able to breath like Clayface said. Problem would have been that Superman would have to keep fighting in order to keep him occupied for enough days…er well maybe months...but do you see my point? How do you stop a madman superbeing like that on Earth without green K, magic, or the right technology? You just can’t.
The Real Problem
The problem isn't the Zod death scene. It just isn't. The problem would be a personal one in where you don’t agree with Snyder or Goyer putting Clark in that position. That’s the problem people have. If anything that’s a taste issue and remember that taste issues are subjective. I may not agree with it but it was well done. I can’t say the movie was a piece of shit just because of this because that would be unreasonable. I can see why people would be mad but it would be illogical to throw the whole movie under the bus because of that, like Mr. Mark Waid has done. It’s fine for Superman to kill only once in order to justify his no killing rule. The real world isn't as black and white, sometimes there’s a lot of grey areas. The problem is the scene AFTER that. Had they shown Superman reflect and deal with this choice, decided that killing was not the right option even though it is the easiest, and show his emotional baggage with that he JUST KILLED THE LAST OF HIS KIND OTHER THAN HIMSELF, it would have resonated with people. And had they shown Superman dual task in his fight with Zod by saving people and preventing destruction, it would have made those scenes better but they weren't bad just not as well done. Oh and the Smallville fight between Zod and Superman was a little careless by Superman but perhaps he was acting on instinct. He’s not perfect and hopefully he learns to not crush your enemy through a couple buildings when trying to avenge your mother. Because as TheDoctor75 perfectly stated,
“What I've always liked about Superman is that he never takes the easy option. Humans seem to think that eliminating a problem is the right answer, but in itself that creates more problems down the line. If you had a super powered being walking the earth killing all those who caused harm, any average person would be terrified to put one foot wrong. I hope that in these films he has now learned the lesson that you don't know what lines not to cross until you've crossed them. The strongest thing on him should not be his muscles, but his heart. He should know that the best option isn't always the easiest option. He should know that anyone can take a life, but to preserve every life is which defines him. He should know that no life is beyond redemption. He should be better than us!”
The amount of hate this movie is getting is unnecessary and makes Superman fans like me pissed off. I don’t care if it’s a DC vs Marvel issue but please use your brains, critical thinking, and objectivity when critiquing something. It’s a lost art really. Anyhow, I believe that if they take this Superman in that direction shown above and show that the experiences in the first one affected him and he learned from them, that they also continue to develop the other characters, and add more levity in the sequel, Man of Steel will be a much better movie for everyone. Man of Steel will be what shaped Superman into the hero we know. Man of Steel will be the origin story of the last son of Krypton. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Voice your thoughts below and if you disagree, I’ll be glad to hear your thoughts. If you have any concerns or constructive criticisms, please let me know especially in the writing department since I’m trying to improve on it. Jolan tru and Q’Plah!
Also check out Geekvolution’s podcast on Youtube on Man of Steel and check out Empire’s podcast with David S. Goyer and Zach Snyder. These two sources cleared things up for me.
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