Man of Steel is a changing of times for Superman. Gone are the old school conservative Hollywood perceptions of Superman and in comes a sorry-for-a-bad-pun super superhero story with Lord of the Rings-Sucker Punch visual effects, a time where the blockbuster of Avengers has overcame the artistic graphic film such as the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy.
Christopher Nolan, as much as he did or did not want to, knew the studios, his audience, and maybe even out of respect for the comic book mythos, understood that Bruce Wayne’s Batman would not go past the R-rating alienating fans. You may have Scarecrow see a scary hallucination of Batman or you may see Superman break someone’s legs causing controversy. Batman never killed people, he never warranted an R-rating, such as shooting his enemies up like a Rambo or Punisher, or giving the Joker a Glasgow smile. There is a line he will not break between himself and villains.
Here is comic book scribe Mark Millar’s thoughts upon watching the film:
“Superman wins by killing Zod. By snapping his neck. And as this moment was building, as Zod was out of control and Superman was (for the first time since the fishing boat 90 minutes ago) struggling to actually save innocent victims instead of casually catching them in mid-plummet, some crazy guy in front of us was muttering “Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…” and then Superman snapped Zod’s neck and that guy stood up and said in a very loud voice, “THAT’S IT, YOU LOST ME, I’M OUT,” and his girlfriend had to literally pull him back into his seat and keep him from walking out and that crazy guy was me. That crazy guy was me, and I barely even remember doing that, I had to be told afterward that I’d done that, that’s how caught up in betrayal I felt. And after the neck-snapping, even though I stuck it out, I didn’t give a damn about the rest of the movie.”
Millar then went over through his head if this was from comic book fan bias.
“But after I processed all that, I realized that it wasn’t so much my uncompromising vision of Superman that made this a total-fail moment for me; it was the failed lead-up TO the moment. As Superman’s having his final one-on-one battle with Zod, show me that he’s going out of his way to save people from getting caught in the middle. SHOW ME that trying to simultaneously protect humans and beat Zod is achingly, achingly costing Superman the fight. Build to that moment of the hard choice…show me, without doubt, that Superman has no other out and do a better job of convincing me that it’s a hard decision to make, and maybe I’ll give it to you. But even if I do? It’s not a victory. Not this sad, soul-darkening, utterly sans-catharsis “triumph” that doesn’t even feel like a win so much as a stop-loss.”
The movie should have asked a question about how much power is too much power like with near omnipotent beings such as Superman killing Zod. Does anybody have a right to kill a man, even if they are the worst person in the world? Does anybody have the right to kill an endangered species, or a man who is programmed to kill without finding out another way? A death penalty debate was probably originally intended by Christopher Nolan’s team.
Also, it is not human nature to break someone’s neck. Clubbing someone with something or shooting someone in self defense maybe, (vaporizing someone maybe), but snapping someone’s neck is. Humans are not inherently even. They are obsessive like General Zod, or they are unable to deal with the tough situations that are given with ones life, like Superman was when encountering General Zod at the end of the film.
That being said this is a mixed film. A lot of what was good was great; can someone be faulted for trying to make a great film like Blade Runner or The Matrix only to fall short. Whether too ambitious or epic in planning, but not in execution, one must ponder the good that came out of this film only benefiting the future of blockbusters within the series.