WARNING: MAN OF STEEL SPOILERS AHEAD!
Things may change in the future, but as of right now Man of Steel ranks among the most divisive superhero films in recent memory. Change is never easy, which is a big part of the reason why director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer’s modernized take on the Superman mythos – bearing all the hallmarks of a 21st-century (or, rather, post-Bryan Singer’s X-Men) comic book/superhero movie – continues to inspire passionate debates between fans both young and old.
We’ve addressed the outcry in response to how Kal-El (Henry Cavill) manages to ultimately defeat General Zod (Michael Shannon) in Man of Steel – and, perhaps more importantly, if many a person’s upset response may be more hypocritical than justifiable. Goyer has talked about the issue too, in addition to having touched upon how Snyder’s movie is structured to lead directly into the sequel – colloquially known as Batman vs. Superman, in the absence of an official title.
Goyer spoke about his and Snyder’s decision to have Superman kill General Zod during their final showdown in Man of Steel, while in attendance at a recent BATFA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture. The screenwriter/filmmaker/comic book writer flat-out said that he doesn’t agree with many of his peers’ no-budge approach, where it concerns how Superman is not allowed to ever kill another being (the following quotes were reported by Digital Spy):
“We were pretty sure [the ending to ‘Man of Steel’] 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.”
Interestingly, Snyder previously admitted that part of his own reasoning for having Supes kill Zod in Man of Steel is because “if [the film] was truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is [otherwise left] unexplained.” This is worth mentioning, if only because Goyer also co-wrote Batman Begins with Man of Steel producer/story writer Christopher Nolan – the latter being a film that attempts to setup the Caped Crusader as a superhero navigating the ethically-murky waters of the new century, much like Man of Steel does with Superman.
In his review, Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw even referred to Man of Steel as being “Superman Begins” in terms of the structure and approach favored in Goyer’s screenplay. The writer has (literally) echoed those comments, as Goyer explained that the whole purpose of Snyder’s reboot was to introduce a new Superman who… well, isn’t really Superman quite yet:
“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.”
In term of additional similarities, both Batman Begins and Man of Steel also show:
- The eponymous superhero causing a real mess of things, due to their inexperience and emotional vulnerabilities.
- How Batman and Superman form their ethical codes when it comes to killing others (in short: avoid it whenever possible).
Moreover, Man of Steel‘s ending has now allowed the “Superman doesn’t kill” code (in the future, anyway) to exist within the narrative, which means that Goyer now has a good reason to stick to that creed and even address it in the sequel (more on that in a moment). By comparison, Batman Begins shows Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) deciding to passively kill Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) by not saving him; yet, Bruce’s own moral reckoning didn’t come about until The Dark Knight Rises, when his actions come back to haunt him.
Batman vs. Superman, like Goyer’s story for The Dark Knight, is expected to deal with the problem of escalation, as Supe’s actions in Man of Steel draw a battle-scarred and world-weary Caped Crusader (played by Ben Affleck) out of the woodwork. However, unlike the Joker in Dark Knight, Affleck playing Bruce Wayne -serving as the antagonist in the Man of Steel sequel (note: “antagonist” does not mean “villain”) – is going to confront Supe about the responsibilities that come with his god-like powers – and why the collateral damage caused by Kal-El in Man of Steel cannot be swept under the rug.
In other words, Goyer and Snyder’s artistic choices in Man of Steel could give rise to a sequel that is as philosophically-complex (if not more so) than The Dark Knight, in addition to being a successful expansion of the DC shared movie universe – so that a Justice League film takes another step closer to becoming a reality one day. If all that happens, then it’ll just go to show: change in how we approach comic book mythology, despite how tough it can be on the masses, really is for the best sometimes.
Where do you stand on the Man of Steel controversy? Do you think that if Batman vs. Superman proves to be a success, then it’ll prompt many people to re-evaluate Snyder’s reboot of the Superman franchise?
Man of Steel debuts on DVD and Blu-ray on November 12th, 2013.
Man of Steel 2/Batman vs. Superman opens in U.S. theaters on July 17th, 2015.
Source: Digital Spy