Man of Steel

Note: This article contains spoilers for Man of Steel.

The final act of Man of Steel is filled with a few things that caused all kinds of controversy. Besides the wanton destruction of Metropolis, many fans were not happy that Superman resorted to murder to defeat General Zod. Their argument is that Superman, a being who is (ideally) utterly good, would never have killed his enemy. He’s beyond such actions, and a “no killing” policy has been adhered to for decades in many of Superman’s stories.

David S. Goyer, however, disagrees. The writer of Batman Begins, Man of Steel and the upcoming Batman vs. Superman recently spoke about his work in the DC Universe. He doesn’t think the “Superman doesn’t kill” rule is necessarily valid in the films. He also suggested the act will have ramifications moving forward, in films such as Batman vs. Superman. Read his quotes and more below.

Goyer spoke at the BATFA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture, via Digital Spy, and spoke about the ending of Man of Steel:

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 idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard.

Lots to pull out of there and discuss.

First up is Goyer’s assertion that, despite what is canon in the comic, those rules don’t need to be adhered to in a movie. Do you think he’s right? Is a blank slate necessary in building mythology? Second, why can’t Superman fly to the moon? The atmosphere thing? Wasn’t that just in Zod’s ship? Third, there’s the notion that he’s only been Superman for a few days, so he hasn’t fully formed as a person yet.

I think the third point is the most important in direct reaction not only to Man of Steel, but Batman vs. Superman moving ahead. Goyer’s quote makes it sound like, in Batman vs. Superman, Clark is going to regret killing Zod. In fact, it might be that act which makes him begin to adhere to a no killing rule. To me, that would make the most sense. Watching the film, I always felt nothing set about who or what Superman is was in the cards yet because he hasn’t even had time to figure it out himself. He’s only had the suit on for a few days.

Lots to discuss here. Please do so below.

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