Skip to comments.My Superman doesn't [....]
Posted on 06/18/2013 2:33:00 PM PDT by craum
My Superman Doesnt [....]
[Spoiler Space] 1.
There has been some (but not much) talk about the fact that Superman kills in this latest telling of his legend. Much of this talk revolves around what he did, but I want to take a higher level view. The point isnt to debate his behaviour the writers are the creators. What they will is so. The point is to debate the meaning of his behaviour. Superman stories are a reflection of the times, and certainly, important issues of each era have been mirrored throughout the history of the Superman legend. The role the story tellers play is to be a kind of barometer of societal attitudes. This gives us a chance to look at where we are taking ourselves - the path we are on. A reality check, if such a thing were possible in fantasy and sci-fi.
Ive enjoyed the Superman legend my whole life. One of the main reasons is because of what Superman stands for. Unconditional respect for all life. "The Ending Battle" with Black Manchester is the quintessential "Superman Does Not Kill" story. But that's just so boring and simplistic to today's morally sophisticated consumer. Yeah... So we are now in a time that is reflected by the prescient genius of Darrow and Miller's Hard Boiled.
We are in a time where writers tell stories that successfully entice people to cheer each week for a serial killer (Dexter). Video games that let us play a psycho killer as a valid story line. Some people think this just goes to show how weve grown up and want our entertainment and inspiration to come from the gritty real world. But these stories arent the real world. Beyond entertainment, stories are meant to put us in a world that inspires and teaches us. Instead, todays culture shows what a nihilistic, self absorbed, unrestrained society we've become.
Goyer and Nolan wrote the script for Superman to kill; for unrestrained, almost pornographic, violent destruction. They did this as a reflection of the times we live in. This movie is a mirror that shows us as a violent, amorally nihilist society. What does all this mean in real terms? As an example, a sizable chunk of our society thinks its OK to kill Americans without trial using drone strikes. The writers had Superman omnipotently chose a final solution to his problem because it reflects our experience in real life. Additionally, people who dont like a Superman who *doesnt* kill betray their attitudes by cynically using words like Dudley do right or boy scout. Its so much easier to drag Superman down to their level, rather than leave Superman where he belongs as an ideal of goodness for us all to strive for.
Like many other super hero he never needs to use a restroom.
Superman killed to save innocents. He had no other choice. None. This is a huge endorsement of the concept of defense of others. See “Just War” by Saint Thomas Acquinas for a deeper look. BTW this is also an almost uniquely American part of our law: even civilians can use deadly force to not only defend themselves but also others.
I had no problem with it. None. Quite the opposite in fact.
Oh and as for the destruction, when powerful good battles powerful evil, things like cities get broken. Cf WWII.
Excellent post. As a ‘by the way’; Superman killed Zod (and two others) by kryptonite poisoning in the comics circa 1987.
2. Show PDA with Lois in “uniform”
3. Wash his suit, ever.
Probably just as well.
BICYCLE REPAIR MAN!
I agree, the only problem I had was the cussing. Was it necessary? No!
This is a pointless exercise. He had no choice, it was either him or Zod, Zod said basically the same thing. Zod would have not stopped until Superman and the Earth were destroyed, or Zod was dead.
It was obvious he didn’t want to kill him, and gave him MANY MANY MANY opportunities to stop.
“Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.”
I just wonder how many people got killed in all those buildings in the fight at the end.
Superman shouldn’t have even kept Zod in the city, he should have flown off, Zod would have followed. Then he could have incapacitated him and Earth could have locked him up.
So what if superheroes kill bad guys? I cannot stand fantasy or science-fiction stories where the really really bad guy is spared because the main character think, “Enough people die for today.” Even knowing that the bad guy might kill again in the future.
To me it’s a very elitist and hierarchical position: bad important guy lives to reach enlightenment, other not-so important guys can die with no consequence.
I am always disappointed when a hero does not get the kill on a true, evil villain so the villain knows he/she was defeated. The villain always seems to die anonymously by something falling on them or an explosion of their own making etc...
Also makes for a crappy sequel.
Why would Zod have followed him? He can hang back and kill humans all day until Superman comes back to the battleground Zod chose in the first place. The only difference between what Superman does in the movie and what you propose is the number of dead people.
I haven’t seen the latest Superman or maybe a few others.
Does Zod ever actually say, “Kneel Before Zod”?
In the original Superman being a mild manor newspaper reported was a respected and noble occupation. I have not seen the movie but does he still have a job?
I think read that in the first season it aired, there was tons of violence and killings on ‘Superman’ starring George Reeves. They toned it down after that 1st year.
He also killed plenty of innocents smashing Zod into skyscraper after skyscraper. You may have missed my point. He had exactly as much choice as the writers gave him. There are dozens of ways he could have been been spared a killing story. What if the phantom zone projector had still been operational (as just one example)?
What I’m saying is, Superman was written into a situation where he killed - and you liked it. I didn’t and I explained why I didn’t like it.
You’re explanation as to why it’s OK - civilians do it - also speaks to the point I was making. Superman isn’t a civilian. He’s Superman. He’s *supposed* to be better than us. He’s supposed to be an inspiration - not a vehicle to vicariously enjoy God-like “justified” powers of destruction.
Again - my point exactly. WWII actually happened. We draw historical lessons from what happened. Superman is a legend of unconditional respect for life. We can draw lessons from that too. Read “The Ending Battle” and “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, & the American Way?” if you can. Both amazing stories! Both stories understand the key element of Superman’s mythos.
What you call cities getting broken is what I “disaster porn”.
True dat. The first season was the BEST season.
He did at the end of the silver age, but he gold krypto’ed his powers away as penance. And Byrne had him do it (your reference) but that story kind of dissolved in canon and even then he banished himself into space. “The Ending Battle” with Black Manchester is the quintessential *modern age* “Superman Does Not Kill” story. But that’s just so boring to today’s hipster morally sophisticated consumer.
No one expects.... Bicycle Repair Man!
Please reread what I wrote. It’s pointless to debate what he could or couldn’t have done. He did exactly what the writers wrote him to do. We could “what if” back and forth forever (and of course some people enjoy doing just that for the fun of it [who would win - Capt. Marvel vs. Supes etc. etc.]).
The point is: The writers wrote Superman as a killer. I’m discussing what a sorry state our culture and society is in that the writers knew that most *UN-Superman* act would resonate with so many people.
Read Darrow and Miller’s “Hard Boiled” if you want to see where we’re headed. We’ve strayed too far from “The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot”.
The graphic novel “Kingdom Come” dealt with that in an interesting way. Superman has an almost sidekick/partner named Magog. So the Joker gets loose again and kills over 100 people, and it is heavily implied that one of those people was Lois Lane. Superman takes Joker into custody. Magog just goes up to Joker, who was, at that time, not a threat, and just murders him on the spot. Superman arrests Magog and is devastated when Magog is hailed as a hero and is acquitted at trial.
Even if you aren’t a comic book fan, its a wonderful read.
I read a funny short story about why Batman doesn’t kill. As it turns out, he has a penchant for sodomy, but refuses to admit this to himself. So he rationalizes his use of sodomy as punishment to the villains he captures. And then he lets them go, instead of turning them over to the police, because they have been punished. This is why they are never sent to prison for years.
Unfortunately, his arch-nemesis The Joker enjoys being sodomized, which makes Batman very conflicted.
Yes. It’s perfectly normal to think the way you describe. If the average person (read: Joe Everyman) had god-like powers I bet he might just pop a few pedophile murderer’s heads like zits. Who could stop him?
He might just crash into Clifford Olsen’s cell and twist his head off. Why not? Who could hold it against him? And then let’s go for the serial killers. Why stop there? Surely they have it coming. You see where I’m going with this.
The legend of Superman is a being who always makes the best possible choice without killing anyone. It’s a story. It’s a legend. One I think worth preserving.
You have Dexters and Punishers aplenty hemorrhaging out of the TV and silver screen. At least leave me my Superman. Must we corrupt even him? Who’s agenda does that serve, anyway?
Um, what? Zat?
The situations you describe are WAY different from having to make a split second decision or see a family of three die horribly. Sheesh.
Superman killing Zod was a direct rejection of the idea that killing is always avoidable.
In most cases for Superman, killing is avoidable. He wouldn’t be much of a hero if he went around punching bank robbers to death. Yeah, robbing banks is a crime, but you’re bulletproof, so just bend their guns into pretzels, haul the bad guys to the police station and call it a day. It’s a good moral context where restraint is appropriate.
Zod, in his case, was no bank robber. He was a superpowered genocidal maniac, bred to a specific purpose, and either unable or unwilling to change from that purpose. He was perfectly clear that his intention was to kill every human being on Earth, and rebuild Krypton on our ashes. Period. Full stop.
He was also a trained, expert combatant from an ancient starfaring civilization, with technical and tactical knowledge far in excess of a Kansas farm boy. Meaning, once Zod adjusted fully to his new powers, he’d be more than a match for Superman. He was clearly disoriented and confused by his new powers, but before long he’d be as strong as Superman, and infinitely more dangerous.
Superman (and his father) had tried to reason with him, and Zod was perfectly clear that he wasn’t interested in any solution that didn’t involve killing all humans. At the point when Superman kills Zod, Zod is trying to murder people, literally at random, specifically to make the point to Superman that he won’t ever stop until he’s killed us all. There was no ‘Kneel before Zod’ scene because Zod didn’t want our submission. He wanted our extermination.
That doesn’t leave a lot of options. Zod isn’t something that can be contained. Even Krypton failed at that. What chance would Earth have?
If your argument is ‘well, the writers should have set it up that Superman could have saved the day without getting his hands dirty’, then that’s fine. Given the scenario presented, however, that wasn’t an option, and Superman was entirely justified in his actions. Further restraint at that point would have seen that family incinerated, and likely doom the world to extinction. If that doesn’t justify killing, then nothing does.
Exactly. When you have your foot on your enemy's throat, you crush him. Period. I never could abide all the mercy shown to the villain when the good guy wins.
You’ll pretty much have to wait for part 2 (where Luthor will no doubt remake the Metropolis Zod and Superman destroy in their orgy of disaster porn). Clark is pretty much an afterthought in this one.
Superman doesn’t need a teleprompter.
Perhaps. But I don’t think Superman killed anyone in the Golden Age (sometimes he was indifferent to the fate of an evil doer) - plus his legend was being formed at the time. His legend was in the process of making. Now that his legend is part of our culture these new “sophisticated” and gritty writers are trying to remake the legend. As I said, it’s only a reflection of what our culture has become.
You know, the culture that wants us to cheer for serial killers like Dexter and Hannibal?
Save innocents? At least a half a million people would had to have died during his battle with Zod. Apparantly collateral damage doesn't bother him so much.
That’s true (although I don’t think Superman himself was ever the instigator in the carnage). But it definately had more violence and killings. More in line with the old movie-serials that preceded it.
For a real lark, take a look at the 1941 “Captain Marvel” serial, in which our invulnerable hero picks up a villain and tosses him off the top of a skyscraper, along with machine-gunning some baddies in the back as they flee! Even more outlandish is the 1938 “Spider” serial, which the hero blows people away left and right.
I do agree with you that Superman is noble specifically because he avoids killing at all costs. It is part of the mystique, and an important one.
As far as him being different than Dexter or the Punisher, or any stray anti-hero you can name, is that there’s a strong element of faith and patriotism that makes Superman trustworthy. He’s the biggest powerhouse in the world, and yet he still believes in power greater than himself. End of the day, that’s why we trust and love the guy. He could be a philosopher king or a monster, but instead, he’s just a good citizen who tries his best to keep people safe in a humble and genuine way.
If he went down the path of “killing people who need killin’”, yes, I agree with you. Where does that end? When there’s no consequences for killing bad guys, other than maybe people getting mad at you, then why not kill all the bad guys?And the people who get in the way of you killing all the bad guys. And the people who don’t convict bad guys, or let bad guys out of prison.
Once you take on that role, there’s really no logical stopping point for it. Just your own personal whim. The path to hell is paved with well meaning incinerations of street criminals.
All that said, there’s a tiny percentage of time when Supes can snap a neck in the middle of Grand Central and people won’t hold it against him, and Zod is one of those times.
Ha! Sounds like it was written in the same vein as Larry Niven’s “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex”
If I had those ‘god-like’ powers then when I’m at a restaurant and the waiter comes up and talks to me right as I get a bite into my mouth....ZOT!!!!
‘Captain Marvel’ was an awesome serial...’Spider’ pulps made ‘Man of Steel’ pale by comparison when it came to destruction. Used to wonder who the hell rebuilt New York so fast between all those monthly issues. The carnage was unbelievable.
I have the first season with George Reeves and yeah it’s pretty violent; lot of shooting and nasty threats. I was especially jolted when a hood calmly hauls off and punches Lois Lane in the face. Kids show indeed!
Totally agree. KC is one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read. I’m quoting imperfectly, but it’s been said if you were given superpowers, Marvel is the kind of hero you’d be but DC is the kind of hero you’d aspire to be.
I agree there’s a place for this kind of “debate Superman killing Zod” and you do a good job. And as you suggest at the end, all the writers had to do was make the phantom zone projector available and the legend as we know it would live on. Superman has faced *much* worse situations than the one presented in this movie and kept his obligation to respect all life.
But this is exactly my point - all the interesting what-if’ing aside: Goyer and Nolan don’t like that legend. They like their Superman to be a killer if he needs to be. Why? What purpose does it serve? Other than to reflect the nihilistic “amoral when we ‘have’ to be” society we’re becoming.
I said it before in this thread, the small and silver screens positively hemorrhage characters that fit that bill. Superman is Superman because he can always make the right choice and maintain his aforementioned obligation. leave me my Superman. Must we corrupt even him? Whos agenda does that serve, anyway?
“Exactly. When you have your foot on your enemy’s throat, you crush him. Period. I never could abide all the mercy shown to the villain when the good guy wins.”
When *you* have your foot on your enemy’s throat. You want Black Adam, have your Black Adam. I’ll keep my Superman.
I read the perfect comment someone made. What kind of Superman movie was this where the world was better off without Superman. This movie was an anti-Superman movie. This is our culture as it stands. You shouldn’t like it.
“If I had those god-like powers then when Im at a restaurant and the waiter comes up and talks to me right as I get a bite into my mouth....ZOT!!!!”
Womder Woman isn't the violence abjuring lezzo dom Soapbox Sadie "Who will not kill the criminals, but convert their hearts from evil to good" created by William Moulton Marston anymore either