Friday, June 21, 2013

Man of Steel: A rant about the controversy. *Spoilers*

As a life long Superman fan I've gotta say I enjoyed Man of Steel. It had it's flaws and I have my gripes but it was nice to finally get a Superman that felt like the Superman from the comics as opposed to a rehash of another adaptation. Now I expected this to displease some pop-culture Superman fans who didn't get their understanding of Superman from the comics. But I was shocked when I heard supposed fan boys complain about the ending, chanting the mantra "SUPERMAN NEVER KILLS!!!!" And as a long time Superman/DC comics fan I'm thinking "Are they reading the same comics I am?"

I just don't buy the Man of Steel sucks because "Superman never kills" argument. It doesn't hold up considering; Superman does kill in the comics, more specifically Superman #22 by John Byrne on  October 1988. He didn't just kill anyone he killed Zod in particular. The movie was heavily influenced by John Byrne's Superman: Man of Steel (see: Man of Steel: Five Things The Movie Took From John Byrne’s Superman)  Is it possible that David Goyer and Zach Snyder were influenced by John Byrne's Superman for the ending?

 Eat green Zod! 

In fact the comic book death was worse. Zod and the two other Kryptonians had just slaughtered a few billion people and Superman couldn't send them back to the Phantom Zone because the Phantom Zone projector was previously destroyed, so he felt his hand was forced and he killed them to prevent them from killing again. Sound familiar? Yep, he killed them. It was a deliberate, premeditated, slow, and painful execution. They died slowly and begged for their lives (the female even offered Superman sexual favors if he allowed her to live). Now keep in mind, this isn't some wacky golden age Superman story where he eats kryptonite or Lois turns into an African American woman for a little while or some other crazy story people choose to forget. This is Post-Crisis John Byrne Superman. John Byrne's Superman has been called the gold standard for Superman. Superman #22 was lauded by Wizard Magazine as one of the greatest Superman stories ever told. CBR put this story on their "The 75 Greatest Superman Stories of All-Time!" list.

 Shame on you Mr. Byrne. You've obviously never seen the Donner films.

  This story was what catapulted Superman to take the vow never to kill again. This decision haunted him a for years to come. This was a defining moment for a rookie Superman. Just like in Man of Steel. Zach Snyder has said as much:

 ….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.

 So no, Superman isn't going all Punisher like and killing everyone he sees. This was a one time deal. Now that I think about it he broke his vow when he killed Doomsday! Sure Doomsday reincarnates but Superman didn't know that at the time. That's at least twice Superman has killed a living creature in the comics. So my question is, "What comic books are they reading?" Are they really Superman fans or are they just fans of the Superman in pop-culture? Because Death of Superman was one of the highest selling comics in it's day and was fairly mainstream for a comic book.

  Dammit Dan Jurgens! Don't you know that Superman NEVER kills! Not even in self-defense! Hasn't this guy even watched an episode of Smallville?

But wait-a-minute! The other reason I don't buy the "Man of Steel sucks because Superman never kills" reasoning is because he not only killed Zod in the comics he killed him in Superman II! He crushes Zod's hands, picks him up over his head, and casually throws him against a wall and allows him to fall to his death. Mind you Zod was powerless and no longer a threat. No one mourned for Zod, Superman didn't show regret or remorse for the decision he felt he had to make just like in the comic books, nope he threw away a living person like a piece of garbage and flew off into the sunset while three of his kind lay dead somewhere in the deep.

Zod:  Wait! I'm powerless and no longer pose a threat to you! Do you really have to kill me? 
Superman: No, but I've got a bright costume and I say "gosh" and "gee wiz" so it's okay.
Zod: What?

So Superman executing Zod out of necessity was cannon in the comics for 20 something years and similar to Man of Steel it's what drove a rookie Superman to take a vow never to kill and preserve all life.  In fact  I prefer it to Superman II. Because when Superman killed Zod in that movie, there are no consequences and no remorse. He didn't learn a thing about preserving life he flies off into the sunset and goes on to kill Nuclearman in Superman IV: Quest for "Peace". 

 Alright you can kill it Superman. Please God kill it!

 In every other instance I've mentioned, fan boys have a laissez–faire attitude towards Superman's actions; however, when it comes to the Man of Steel fans are incredulous and inexorable. Is there is a double standard here? If so why? Maybe it's the darker color scheme in his costume, the less then graceful depiction by Snyder, or the influence of critics on people who can't think for themselves. Are they really fans of the 75 year old character or are they popular culture groupies who had no knowledge of the other examples I listed and thus clung unto a simplified understanding of Superman?  Either way Ol' Sups' has taken a life. More than once.

1 comment:

  1. In the 1984 extended tv cut of Superman II, Zod and Co. are handed over to the authorities, but, yeah, the theatrical cut implies otherwise.