1. Tim Frankovich says:

    “because emotion trumps thought.”


  2. Fantastic discussion.

    While it shocked me, I appreciate the way Zod’s death was handled in Man of Steel because

    1) You see the agony on Supermans’s face as he screams afterwards. He REALLY did’t want to do that, and it will clearly haunt him for a long time. It causes him great pain.

    2) I have been suspecting (and you’ve just confirmed this) that the act will lead Superman to make a decision from this point forward that he can never take a life.

    It is also worth noting that Zod was a Kryptonian, who was equal in power to him. Superman didn’t kill a human. Not that the species makes any difference to the morality of it, but it makes what Superman did similar to a police officer killing in the line of duty.


    As you’ve pointed out, Marvel and DC movies have very different tones. I enjoy them both, and am glad that DC is not just copying Marvel’s successful formula.

    • Exactly. If Superman had killed a human being, everything would’ve been different. A human being could’ve been captured, restrained, tried, convicted, and punished by duly appointed authorities. It would’ve been totally unnecessary — and thus evil — for a being as powerful as Supes to kill an ordinary human without due process. In that case, it would’ve been an act of sadism, like a grown man killing a child.

      But Zod wasn’t human. The only restraint capable of holding him, as we saw clearly demonstrated, was Superman’s arm clenched around his neck. And for an outcome in which the human population of Earth survives, Supes’ decision to kill one of his own kind was the only possible course of action.

      That’s why I think of the Superman/Zod battle not in terms of due process, but in terms of Just War Theory. It *was* a war. Superman modeled war for the rest of us. He killed because it was necessary. He didn’t allow his own sense of revulsion and shame to prevent him from protecting everything he held dear. And he did it all without the handwringing, self-doubting, postmodern queasiness that causes America to back off from its wars prematurely in the name of compassion or sensitivity, thereby condemning the rest of the world to the rule of thugs craven enough to just sit back and wait for their next opportunity to strike. No, Superman intuitively understood what those who fault him for fighting his enemy in the city do not: the instant you control the situation is the instant war itself becomes unnecessary. Until then, you keep punching until the other guy submits or dies. Anything less is a betrayal of everything you hope by your actions to protect.

  3. dmdutcher says:

    The thing though is that anyone that could seriously challenge superman would be equivalent in power level to Zod. Parasite comes to mind, but I’m sure there are others. By framing it as a just war, you are deconstructing the idea of Supes, and you probably would wind up seeing him kill more, not less. He’d wrestle with that, but you couldn’t see him evolve to classic Supes.

    Not that deconstruction is bad, or just war superheroes are. But you’d wind up with a level of moral realism that might make people uncomfortable. A really great contrast is in Batman: Gotham Knight (which is ten times better than anything Nolan or Snyder has done) where Batman tries out a new device which causes a bullet repelling forcefield. That seven minute short does more with the idea of violence and morality than man of steel did in its whole running time. Seriously, watch Gotham Knight-incredible film.

    • “You’d wind up with a level of moral realism that might make people uncomfortable.”

      Exactly. If “classic Supes” is defined as being morally unrealistic, than I’d be ecstatic if the current cinematic Supes never metastasized into such a farce.

      “Gotham Knight” sounds like something right up my alley. I might have to check it out.

  4. dmdutcher says:

    I REALLY recommend it. Essentially its the Animatrix with Batman-a collection of anime shorts, but they also link together at times to make a story. It’s surprisingly good, with a more mature take on him than the animated series.

What do you think?