The real reason for Warner/DC’s “no jokes” policy

First, I might as well get this out of the way, since I still get confused comments about this: Yes, I like Man of Steel significantly less than I did when I wrote my initial review last year. Honestly, I don’t think I ever truly liked it. I just so very badly wanted to. I clung to the elements that worked and told myself those niggling doubts in the back of my head didn’t matter. I wanted so much to like Man of Steel, had myself so on edge, torn between excitement and dread, and so turned around that in my zeal to be a “professional” critic and judge whether or not the film was “objectively” good, I managed to overlook the most important factor of all while watching it:

I wasn’t having fun.

After all, if you’re not having fun watching a damn superhero movie, what’s the point? Sure, comics can have different goals than pulp entertainment. They can be dramatic, or dark and depressing, or spiritual, or psychedelic, or whatever the imagination can conceive, just like any art form. But this isn’t Watchmen. This isn’t The Invisibles or Maus. This is Superman. Ground zero for the comic book superhero. And if you’re not having fun watching Superman, why are you watching to begin with?

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And that was ultimately what killed Man of Steel for me. Not it being a bad movie (though it was very much that, failing to do a good job of being what it wanted to be, much less what I wanted it to be), but rather utterly joyless and morose. Even more so than the Dark Knight trilogy, Man of Steel was completely devoid of levity. And after so much anticipation, and so much promise, this was completely soul-crushing for me. Superman means something to me, and always has. This is a character I draw hope and inspiration from, a character who’s helped get me through my darkest days. And to see him drained of all that optimism and joy… I honestly think it broke something in me.

Ever since, I’ve been a more cynical person when it comes to movies. I find it much harder to get excited for anything movie-related anymore. Every time a new movie is announced that sounds like something I might like, I react with suspicion or apathy. The world of cinema post-Man of Steel just seems like a far bleaker place to me.

That may sound melodramatic, and it probably is. But as if to assure me I’m justified in feeling this way, along comes rumors that Warner Brothers has instituted an already infamous “no jokes policy” for all future DC movies.

Everybody together now…

The real reason for Warner/DC's "no jokes" policy
The real reason for Warner/DC's "no jokes" policy
The real reason for Warner/DC's "no jokes" policy

I honestly can barely find the words right now. I feel crushed by the very idea of what lies ahead. I’m still feeling drained from Man of Steel, and the thought that there are more movies coming just like it, each just as depressing as the last… I just want it to stop. I don’t want to live in a world where this is what Superman is now. Where this is what Wonder Woman, what the whole Justice League is. I’d rather never see them onscreen again than have to sit through another movie like Man of Steel.

But I’ll try to compose myself long enough to say something of substance about this. Which is difficult, because as it is, it actually doesn’t seem to tell us all that much. For instance, exactly how literal a mandate is this? Are they actually saying that no kind of humor at all will be permitted in their films? Is any line of dialogue that resembles a joke to be purged from the scripts? Are actors to be forbidden from smiling during their performances? Likely not. After all, even Man of Steel had one or two jokes… I think. Let’s see, there was the bit where he smashes that guy’s truck, I guess. That was sort of a joke. Then there was the bit where that girl said Superman was hot. I think that was meant to be funny… for some reason. And I think Superman smiled once while flying… or maybe that was just a grimace. Ooh, that bit about his “S” we all remember from the trailer! That was a joke, right? Or was that just awkward setup? I really can’t remember; I was busy having my inner child stomped into submission at the time.

But regardless, surely they don’t mean literally no jokes at all. That would be ludicrous. Almost no movie in the history of cinema can claim to be completely devoid of any kind of humor. Hell, even The Act of Killing had humor in it, and that was the most depressing movie of last year (which I’ll remind you is a year that also gave us 12 Years a Slave and Fruitvale Station).

But even if Warners isn’t being completely literal, what do they think actively discouraging humor will accomplish? Who is this meant to appeal to, exactly? Robots? Vulcans? Oscar the Grouch? Is there a single demographic anywhere in the world that does not like humor at all in their movies? Are there actually people who walk into a film saying, “This movie better not make me laugh, not once”?

It’s weird, because from an outsider’s perspective, it feels like Warner Brothers, a company that’s been making films since 1923, has somehow forgotten how movies work. Humor is one of the basic tools of not just movies, but all forms of storytelling. It provides levity, which in turn provides relief from conflict and tension. Without it, the narrative becomes oppressively dull. Drama and tragedy don’t work when there’s no lighter counterpoint to balance them out. Sadness and anger have no meaning when they’re your character’s default state of being. And absolute stone-faced seriousness at all times makes characters cold and impenetrable, which in turn makes it very difficult for audiences to feel engaged.

The real reason for Warner/DC's "no jokes" policy

Why? Why do this? What is to be gained, exactly? Is there some sort of fear that allowing Batman to ever again crack a smile is to risk another Batman & Robin, from which they must forever run in the opposite direction? Why mandate such dour and joyless tones for superhero movies? Why craft a Superman who spreads mass destruction instead of hope? Who sulks and broods instead of comforts and inspires? Who lives in a world of the worst possible tragedies that somehow have no consequences at all? Why does WB want to ban fun?

And then it hit me: Because Superman is Donald Rumsfeld now.

It came to me while reading about some of the plot details of Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, specifically in regards to how Superman’s mass-murdering punch up will be viewed by the general public. What do we know? Apparently, they’ve built a statue of Superman. So it would seem the people of Metropolis aren’t terribly upset that he leveled their city and killed most of them. We even know that a crippled Jimmy Olsen may enter the story as a victim of Superman’s rampage, whose role is apparently to be totally cool with his horrific injuries. We’re told he still loves Superman, despite the fact that he, you know, maimed him for life. Because he saved the world, it’s all good.

And suddenly it all becomes clear. This is Christopher Nolan’s right-wing politics working their way into Superman the way they worked their way into Batman. This is turning Superman into a metaphor for U.S. actions in Iraq, by having him destroy an entire city full of innocents to kill one guy, and trying to make us feel like it was completely justified. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt along the way, as long as we get the bad guy. This is basically the misguided U.S. fantasy of the rest of the world loving us for what we’ve done in the Middle East. The filmmakers even give Superman a whole arc about rejecting and then violently destroying the remnants of his alien heritage, and then they throw in that “I’m as American as it gets” scene just to solidify him as America personified.

Regardless of your personal politics, we should all be able to agree on one thing: Superman should never say “It was for the greater good.” The whole point of Superman is he never has to say “It was for the greater good.” He’s so powerful that he always finds a way to save everyone. That’s the fantasy of Superman: The idea of someone who can fix everything, someone who’s incorruptible and can make everything okay.

Superman is not a character for a “post-9/11 world”, where everything has to be dark and morally ambiguous, with of lots of political undertones. That’s why Man of Steel didn’t work, why Dawn of Justice won’t work, and why this “no jokes” policy is a bad idea. They’re trying to force Superman into a mold that wasn’t made for him. And in order for him to fit into it, he has to be stripped of everything that makes him Superman: Hope, optimism… and fun.

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  • Jonathan Campbell

    I’m pretty sure they don’t have a “no jokes” policy.

    Exhibit A):

    http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/09/03/shazam-movie-rock-fun/

    “But when asked where the movie would fall on the superhero-movie spectrum (from dark and gritty to light and peppy), [WB subsidiary New Line Cinema President] Emmerich does allow that the movie “will have a sense of fun and a sense of humor. But the stakes have to be real.”

    “Black Adam is a complex character,” says Emmerich. “The villain in superhero movies is often, I think, what makes the movie. And I thought Dwayne’s take on the character, and the way that he saw Black Adam, was really compelling and fun.”

    I don’t think this rumour is something to take seriously.

    • If anything, this reinforces the article’s argument, because the Shazam film will be released under the New Line umbrella, and exist outside the DC Cinematic Universe (Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, etc.)

      • Jonathan Campbell

        No, because the alleged policy was that ALL DC movies would have “no jokes” in them.
        But if that’s splitting hairs, the main thing against this policy is….its just a rumour.
        No evidence has been presented that it actually exists.

        As for Shazam not being part of the DCCU, that’s still technically not confirmed either.

        New Line Cinema is producing it, but New Line is a subsidiary of WB so its not impossible for these two verses to co-exist; at least, its more likely than Sony’s Spiderman of Fox’s FF showing up in Avengers any time soon.

        I’ll grant its looking doubtful, but…I’d rather wait for definitive confirmation.

        • emanon

          Its an unconfirmed rumor that people are bitching about because there’s some delusional mistrust of all things WB. Even though WB has only recently gotten a new CEO, new management, a new gameplan, and highly talented actors and scriptwriters on board like Chris Terrio.

          I hate that the agony booth, once a fun movie sporking site, has now become the “let’s whine like a bunch of idiotic fanboys” site.

          • Wizkamridr

            I would rather see critics on this site riff movies, instead of being cynical.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            And yet you whine like a fanperson. ^^

          • emanon

            Nice retort, with all the playground sophistication of “oh yeah? well, you too!” Here’s the point, since you missed it: the agony booth had a quality of writing and reviewing that has since all but disappeared, save for a for a few exceptions (Good Bad Flicks, the Fear Fan). Instead of having enjoyable and fun-loving sporks of films, this site has degenerated into angsty rants about (for example) sexism in movies. Yeah, I agree its a problem. No, I don’t want to watch a ten minute youtube preach-to-the-choir rant about it. I come here to be entertained by interesting and clever film analyses and sporks, not to endure someone’s poorly worded soapbox. “Oh dear, this isn’t the Wonder Woman I like!” “Oh dear, Star Wars is going to be a sausage fest!” (No its not, that reviewer seriously jumped the gun given how the female cast has grown on that film, and that the lead herself is a female). “Oh dear, the DC cinematic universe won’t have humor due to an unconfirmed rumor I heard! Let’s complain!” When did the agony booth forget how to have fun?

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Oh, I’m sorry I might not be as sophisticated as you, but I know irony, when I see it. And a person is moaning and bitching about a website “whinig like a bunch of idiot fanboys” has – at least to me – the same “sophistication” as Superboy Prime, voiced by Linkara. “Everything was SOOOO much better on my earth”. Oh the irony.
            You’re complaining, how much this place was SOOOOOO much better, when they “sporking” movies – and then you turn around and say “Yeah, what a bunch of fanboys”.

          • emanon

            Well, I can’t teach you the difference between an unfounded complaint and a valid criticism. Hopefully you’ll discover it for yourself someday.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            When you read the articles of Joshua and Nycea, you see them as “unfounded” complaints and your ” I hate that the agony booth, once a fun movie sporking site, has now become the “let’s whine like a bunch of idiotic fanboys” site.” is “valid criticism”?

            Okay…. well, to each their own. ^^

  • T. Morrissey

    Clearly this is satire. The whole Iraq-Rumsfeld thing is so clumsy and preposterous, that the writer simply can’t believe it. Unless this is a thesis statement for a terrible film essay.

    On another note, it generally bugs me how there’s this assumption that comics = fun. Batman and Superman comics actually weren’t “fun” when I was reading them. They were generally serious and had few light moments.

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      Well, to be honest – I see those comic book movies as something, I want to enjoy, to have FUN.
      On the other hand – “fun” in and on itself is a difficult thing, because fun is taste and taste something that is individual.

      For me a “fun” movie is somethign, that has a bit of humour in it, a bit of levity, something that can make me giggle, where I can see, that those characters (or even the actors) had fun. Take Rumplestilzkin from “Once upon a time” for example. I don’t know why, but I have the feeling that even the actor (Robert Carlyle) had fun playing him, because he is SO gloriously over the top.
      I have nothing against “over the top”, I have nothing against mugging.

      I have something against a movie, that is taking itself SO super seriously, wanting to be “artsy”, wanting to be seen as a serious work of entertainment, that it nearly eliminates joy and fun out of its own concept. But again, that’s just me.

      Other people might get their joy and fun out of those superserious movies – and that’s okay, too.

      let me put it this way – if DC is now buried in its own seriousness, that’s fine. then I know, that I’m gonna be watching the Marvel Movies, that at least have witty banter and a bit of comedic moments.

      And I agree with @jokmank:disqus. There can be insightful, meaningful comics…. but even those writers should not forget, that you need to have one or two amusing moments every once in a while.

    • Sean Tadsen

      Just because a comic is serious doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. The Lord of the Rings movies are very serious, but I still have fun watching them. I had fun watching the Christopher Nolan Batman movies.

      • Wizkamridr

        I guess I’m emo. I enjoyed MOS.

    • Wizkamridr

      I thought he was talking about Boehner. Shows you how much I pay attention to politics.

  • jokmank

    Hear, hear!
    God, how long I have waited for the rest of the internet to emrace this sentiment!

    I use to appreciate the entire “comic books and superheros can be for adults too” movement, until it evolved into “comic books and superheroes MUST BE ONLY for adults”, because, I guess, fun, colors and optimism is for kids and naive dimwits?

    There’s got to be a way for these characters to be enjoyed by both kids and adults who grew up with them, without them being ruined by people who selfishly demand that their childhood entertainment grow up along with them, and therefore appeal only to them!

    Comic books can definitely be insightfull and deep, but enough with this pretension that stories featuring people in costumes and capes SHOULD and MUST hold up to some artistic and literary standards, instead of being first and foremost entertaining!

    • “Adults”, defined here as ’14-year-old boys who listen to Crawling In My Skin unironically’.

    • Wizkamridr

      Rest of the internet? The fan base was split in half. Some of embrace every version of superman, while other’s only stick with their favorite.

  • Muthsarah

    Hmmm…not convinced that a neocon apologia can’t go hand-in-hand with SOME levity. John Wayne movies almost always had lighter moments to them. You can tell a story about a group of people making sacrifices for a greater goal and still have the characters be likeable.

    As you said, it makes it all the easier to care for – perchance to have your heart ripped out later – certain characters if you first get to see them being happy and charming. To take an old WWII movie as example (ripe for interpretation from any political spectrum, and certainly the type of war Hollywood still wants to make movies for), what type of character would you mourn more for: A stone-faced drifter with a backstory steeped in blood, or Brooklyn, that lug from Flatbush with a sixth-grade education and a mug only a mother could love, but a guy you’d happily go to hell and back with, just to see him box the devil’s ears? You wanna make “the cause” look good? First make it look like something the audience would want to participate in in some way other than just dropping $14 at the multiplex. If Man of Steel is supposed to be in defense of “war at any cost” or whatever that way, why make it all feel so depressing and miserable for the ones at the center of it?

    I have to stick with my previous suspicion that these movies are made to be simple violence porn, and that if they have a parallel to modern issues, they’re just trying to sell the “dark, gritty, but AWESOME” images of high-tech war that have been ubiquitous since the First Gulf War to an audience that still thinks of it in a very detached way. Destroying cities is cool….because my city was never actually destroyed. Characters getting maimed is hardcore….because I’ve never known anyone who had that happen to them. Being intense and serious and “stoic” is the mark of the ultimate badass….because I’m only watching this film for maybe 150 minutes tops, I don’t actually know what it’s like to LIVE that way.

    Golden/Silver Age Superman does feel like a power fantasy, yes. But one that might actually be fun for more than a few minutes, feeding into thoughts like “if I only had the power, I would so change the world for the better”. I gotta wonder if the people who like these movies (EDIT: OK, that was an over-generalization, let’s replace that with “the target audience”) are always angry at the world, or if they just think being angry and frustrated and, above all, TORTURED, all the time sounds like it’d be fun.

    Unless they’re just there for the disaster porn, of course. There’s always that. A movie doesn’t have to be about anything other than what’s on the surface.

  • Toby Clark

    The TV Tropes Funny/Man Of Steel page has plenty more. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Funny/ManOfSteel My personal favourite is during the battle over Metropolis when Zod smashes Superman into an X Days Since Last Accident sign and knocks off every digit except a 0.

  • MichaelANovelli

    Well, former Agony Anarchists guest narrator Leon Thomas once said that he doesn’t like comedies, but other than him I can’t think of anyone.

    • Kanonite

      Conspiracy theorists also come close to “utterly humourless”.

    • Alexa

      Well he might not like comedies, but he’s not allergic to humor. He likes The Big Lebowski.

    • Snaps Provolone

      I’m surprised that he thinks that way, I thought he was pretty funny on Victorious.

      • MichaelANovelli

        Still waters run deep, I guess…

  • I don’t quite agree on the Rumsfeld bit; as fascistic as The Dark Knight could be Batman was fighting specifically to stop innocent people from getting killed at the climax. Personally I think the tone in MoS is a combination of attempting to ape Nolan’s success while desperately backing away from Green Lantern’s failure, a film which was deliberately modelled on Iron Man.

    I find it funny that Come and See, a Soviet WWII film which inspired the ghetto-clearing scene in Schindler’s List, still has more humour and levity than MoS. Here’s it’s box art, by the way:

    http://www.moviesteve.com/data/posters/tt0091251.jpg

    • T. Morrissey

      That movie is such an overblown turd. Even seeing that box art makes me angry.

  • Kanonite

    I agree. Stories need levity. I mean, even Stalin’s regime had beaches. http://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-1544302-stock-footage-huge-crowds-amass-at-the-beach-on-a-summer-day-in-the-former-soviet-union.html

    I have to mention I am not being snide, just to be sure.

  • RockyDmoney

    Man of Steel was a dark, depressing, boring, stupid, loud, utterly joyless, headache inducing, convoluted mess

    • Wizkamridr

      Go back and watch the never ending story. That was depressing. Still enjoyed it though. Did everyone forget this movie was directed by synder? That’s like bitching about Bay’s Transformers. You get what you pay for.

      • RockyDmoney

        I guess you are just so hardcore that you can enjoy a superman movie where he is unheroic, depressing, and emo instead of being fun, colorful, lighthearted cuz that shit will give you the gay yo

        • Wizkamridr

          Nope. Just open minded to different versions. Clark was emo in smallville. Unheroic? That is your view. Depressing? I did not feel it was.

  • Gallen Dugall

    I thought the no humor rule was because of Green Lantern.

  • drumstick00m

    And here I thought the “no jokes” rule is because these assholes wanted to make the same KIND of money (but in larger quantity) they made off comic book manchildren via “Death of Superman” off of everyone else. I thought the jarring violent mopey Man of Steel and keep-Batman-Nolan, and shove Wonder Woman in; was done solely to sell tickets on shock value (and in Wonder Woman’s case, because “Frozen/Catching Fire”).

    My new theory is that we are both right, and that this also has something to do with why there are three Hobbit movies and more Harry Potter…

  • Wizkamridr

    This movie was still better than 3, 4 or Routh pretending to be Reeve.
    I find heroes killing bad guys inspiring.
    Superman did not kill the remnants of krypton. The dna was inside him.
    The bystanders were idiots.
    I’m glad this movie was nothing like the avengers. Keep the goofy jokes to yourself marvel.
    I’m not sure how you expected superman to stop zod.

    • Kanonite

      Yeah, I mean the guy wasnt gonna stop and no human prison could viably hold him. So death penalty it is.

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        Yeah…. erm… no.
        Knock him out, fly with him in space, an whirl him away. You can fly, Clark, you’ve shown it.

        And if this would be any other Superman-Film I would’ve known HOW to stop Zod without being Judge, Jury and Executioner myself. Use Kryptonite to make him weak. Then you can put him in Prison.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          “Yeah…. erm… no.
          Knock him out, fly with him in space, an whirl him away. You can fly, Clark, you’ve shown it.”

          So…death penalty.

          What, you think that WOUDLN’T kill Zod?

          Also prison, kryptonite or not, probably wasn’t an option. It would depend on the existence of a prison that could hold Zod to begin with. And you wouldn’t be able to use Kryptonite to weaken him indefinitely, because kryptonite would ALSO kill Zod.

          To beat Zod non-fatally, you have to either banish him back to the Phantom Zone, or remove his powers (as in Superman II, though in Superman II, Superman killed Zod ANYWAY, superpowers be damned).

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            @kanonite:disqus Which would give Clark more than enough time to prepare and meet Zod on equal ground – AND try to talk to him.

            @disqus_CiPwLIp6Po:disqus Yep, if we take the old Supes-Mythos in consideration he could’ve survived in space.

            Concerning Supes II – that was different. See, I have no problem with Supes killing Zod. I just pointed out, what could’ve been an alternative course of action. However I HAVE a problem with movies, that have no humour in it or so subtle humour, that you ask yourself “Was that a joke now?”
            Take the Pencil-Scene from Dark Knight – a friend of mine sat in cinema, watched the scene, around him people were aghast and he burst out into laughter.
            Was that meant funny or was that just meant to be cruel?
            The scene with the “X days since the last accident”. Meant to be funny or just “something happening”.

            Supes II – back in the days – had scenes, clearly meant for laughs. Even Superman III has those. And even Batman and Robin has scenes, that are geniunely funny.

            But a whole movie consisting of a hero, brooding how bad his live is…. “da hab ich einfach keinen Bock drauf” (I simply have no interest in that.)

          • Kanonite

            Fair enough. I personally am in the Kill Zod camp. The risk of him returning and the ensuing panic of the public is one I am not willing to take, even if Supes prepared.

            And like I said before. I do agree stories need levity.Even the Soviet Union had beaches. And I dont think it needs to be humour so much as anything on the bright side, even as faint as a smile to add levity to a story.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Well, if Supes would be prepared, we could evacuate those parts, in which he is most likely to fight, not stand around like dolts and maybe in this time some scientists had the idea of creating some technological thingamathingy, that would take the power of Zod away.

            I think it needs at least to have a little humour in there – just some bits and pieces, that make us not go “is this dour and boring.”

          • Jonathan Campbell

            “Yep, if we take the old Supes-Mythos in consideration he could’ve survived in space.”

            Well then you have two problems

            a) This isn’t the old Superman mythos, so whether he could survive in space (or, survive for a prolonged length of time) is still up in the air

            b) If Zod DID survive, then…

            i) Zod has not been stopped; he’ll come back and start the fight all over again, If he’s only been knocked out, he’ll probably be back in minutes if not seconds.

            Or

            ii) Zod has been knocked out so thoroughly that he is unconscious for a very long time and Clark has thrown him so far that he can no longer find Earth. Either the blow that knocked-out Zod HAS killed him, or Zod wakes up groggy, alone and drifting in space…forever, or until the slow passing of time kills him off anyone. Snapping his neck would be more merciful.

            Yes, MoS could have used more lightness and humour; that’s irrelevant to this particular conversation. In the scenario presented in the movie, regardless of how many jokes and good-hearted things they put in there, Superman more or less HAD to kill Zod.

            If killing Zod wasn’t your problem, then you didn’t have to bring up alternatives, but my point is that the ones you did simply would not work. Goyer and Snyder deliberately contrived to present a situation where Superman was FORCED to kill Zod.

            And I’m not sure how I feel about that, because in many other superhero stories, the contrivance is to have such a villain dispose of HIMSELF, or be killed by accident.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Well, killing Zod might’ve not been my problem, but I think there might’ve been other alternatives. If B 2 would’ve been correct in that capacity, that Zod flowed through space long enough, that he would need to travel a long time to come to earth again, that would’ve been a solution, I would approve. Because that’d give Supes time to train, to be an even match AND would’ve had chance, that Supes could’ve talked some sense into Zod, after he reappeared.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Yeah…that’s assuming Zod could find his way back to Earth. More likely, he couldn’t and would die slowly in the vast nothingness.

            If he’s close enough to travel back to Earth, to be able to find it and return, then he’s close enough that nobody really has time to prepare anything; and when he DOES come back, he should be stronger and his Kryptonian powers might be fully awakened, which combined with his military training means he should have zero problem killing Superman this time around.

            Space is VAST; the time you are talking about to adequately prepare for Zod’s return, for Superman to train and be his match, is months or years, and in THAT case, Zod is probably going to die in space, because he doesn’t have time.

            Your scenario also suggests that Superman is in fact going to have to fight Zod again, and that he is aware of that enough that he is actually training himself for Round 2. In that case, that brings up all the “should Batman kill the Joker” problems, because expects Zod to return and probably start killing people again, in which case he is arguably as responsible for those deaths as Zod is (well, not AS, but its still Superdickery). The main difference is, unlike the Joker, Zod was never locked up. All so Superman can become stronger than Zod and therefore not have to kill him because Zod is no threat to HIM (or no UNBEATABLE threat to him).

            But lets put that aside.

            So, basically, in your version, Zod is thrown into space, survives and returns after a lengthy period of time (not dying or going even crazier in the intern from being lost in space), returns and he and Superman have their big, destructive epic battle once again. Only this time, Superman wins and forces Zod to talk.

            Problem 1) Zod’s problem in the movie is that he is genetically engineered to be the way he is; he was the product of both cultural AND biological conditioning, and he is essentially a living robot who is refusing to accept that his programming is flawed as well as a dangerous fantasist bent on recreating a dead world so that he can play out Kryptons’ last days on his own terms and lead it to safety because that is literally what he was born and raised to do. He has twice declared and demonstrated his willingness to commit xenocide- against humanity and every other species on the planet- the first time in pursuit of this fantasy, the second simply to spite Superman and Jor-El.

            In other words he’s a proven genocidal maniac, with superpowers- reasoning with him is going to be difficult.

            Problem 2) He’s a genocidal maniac. With superpowers. Clark reasons with him, and Zod apparently calms down. How can Clark TRUST him?

            Zod: “Fine, I’ll stop trying to kill humanity.”
            Superman: “Good; that’s what I wanted to hear”.
            Zod: “Now what?”
            Superman: “Ughh….you might have to go to prison.
            Zod: “….”
            Superman: “And the government will probably want to execute you”.
            Zod: “….”
            Superman: “Don’t worry; your as powerful as I am. They can’t KEEP you in jail OR kill you; we’re invincible, man.”
            Zod: “…”
            Superman: “By the way, sorry about destroying the remnants of Krypton. We’re cool though, right?”
            Zod: “You know I snapped your neck five minutes ago, right?”
            Superman: “Oh, come on! I thought we were passed this!”

            Problem 3) GENOCIDIAL MANIAC. WITH SUPERPOWERS.

            Lets say that Zod actually does calm down and really is willing to let bygones be bygones.

            What about the human race?

            What do you think THEY will want to happen to Zod?

            THEY won’t trust him; THEY can’t hold him (unless they built a prison that can hold him while he was in space; in which case, yes he must have been up there for years). THEY might want Superman to kill him on the spot regardless; and if he refuses, they are never going to trust Zod.

            I’m not sure what passes for “reasoning with Zod” here. He can’t rebuild Krypton, and it would be dangerously naïve to allow him to remain on Earth as an ally, yet you can’t kill him or throw him in jail.

            Once again, the whole point of that fight was that Snyder and Goyer WANTED Superman to kill Zod.

            I’m sure there are plenty of good ways beat Zod non-fatally, but…damn, throwing him into space and hoping for the best isn’t one of them.

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Your 3 problems just boil down to one – that he’s a genocidal maniac with superpowers… so – what do you do to someone like that?

            Well, this would’ve been the perfect opportunity to introduce another party into the movie – the Green Lantern Corps, a.k.a. the Space Cops. Hand the genocidal maniac with superpowers out to them, let him stand trial and then put him behind lock and key.

            If that does not work – hey, Supes is supposed to be smart. Let him and Prof Hamilton concoct a way to undo the cultural and biological conditioning, that is turning him into this “robot”…

            Wow – it is so much easier to agree, that the way Supes killed Zod in Superman 2 was okay, because in this movie he was just an asshole, who had it coming. The more you try to convince me, that there was no other alternative than killing Zod in this movie (he’s basically brainwashed etc.) the more I think “There could’ve been a way to prevent that. Undo his conditioning, shove him into space, exile him on a barren planet, give him to the green lantern corps, and what not.

            And I think, if they really wanted Supes to have no other alternative, besides killing Zod, then giving Zod a backstory … yeah, was not that great of an idea. If he’d be just a mustache twirling villain, we don’t care what happens to him. But once you made him sympathetic, we at least think “Could there have been another way”?

          • Jonathan Campbell

            It WAS that great an idea, because the whole point of that that scene was that you would feel as bad about killing Zod as Clark did, and for that to work, an engaging and sympathetic villain is pretty helpful.

            And I’m personally not a big fan of making a villain unsympathetic just to make it okay to kill them. For a start, as much of an arrogant dick as Stamp-Zod was, his actual evil plan was much, much nicer than the plan of Shannon-Zod: “take over the world, because I can” is a mite bit better than “destroy all life on Earth, because DAMMIT I WAS RIGHT!” Not to mention, Clark is actually MORE of a dick in Superman II since in that he DEPOWERED Zod and THEN murdered him, rather than sending the three of them to prison as powerless criminals (which is what happens in the Directors Cut).

            Killing Zod is SUPPOSED to be tragic, but its also supposed to be the only thing Clark could have done- and since none of your solutions are plausible in the context of that world and story (there are no Green Lanterns around, or if there are nobody seems to know about them; de-programming Zod like that would be a Deus Ex Machina and would have its own ethical implications) yes they did a good job of establishing that.

            If they wanted Zod to live, they would have found a way to let him live. It was only a question of “there is no other way” because the writers decided there was no other way.

            EDIT: I let my pasta get burned because I was busy writing this reply to you. I HOPE YOU ARE HAPPY!

          • CaptainCalvinCat

            Oh yes, nothing gives me more pleasure than see other peoples pasta burning. (No, of course I’m not happy, I’m sorry.)

            Well, to me this boils down to “He had to kill Zod, BECAUSE THE PLOT SAID SO!”
            Zods “death” in Supes II is something, people can debate, people can call Supes a dick etc. but here, when push comes to shove and every point of discussion is nixed with “yeah, the authors wanted it” … then it comes to “well, they did it because…. erm… because…. because the plot said so, godsdamnit.”

          • Jonathan Campbell

            (my friggin pot is burnt too- yes, I’m blaming you. Sorry won’t cut it)

            Yes, he killed Zod because the plot said so. Had he found a way to save Zod, that would ALSO be because the plot said so.

            Usually in superhero movies, this sort of situation ends with the villain dying accidently or somehow killing himself, and it is often brought up by fans how contrived that was. Here, the contrivance was how to get Superman to kill Zod, so if for no reason other than variety, I can accept it. You’re making it sound as if you think killing Zod made no sense whatsoever outside of the writers forcing it.

            Although really, and with all due respect…your solutions were just silly.
            That’s what I was objecting to. Not the “saving Zod” part, but the “saving Zod by punching him into space and eventually he’ll learn his lesson” part.
            I mean come on, you can do better than that. There are better ways to end the fight non-fatally.

            Though, you’re not just trying to save Zod’s life, you are trying to redeem him because you like him. And that, again, is really just a sign that the writers did a good job.

          • Writrzblok

            Why not have Superman shove the ship Zod took from the Arctic into the wormhole that Hardy, Lois and Hamilton created? Why was that never an option?

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Because they WANTED Superman to kill Zod, so there is that as well. Nolan was reluctant, but Goyer and Snyder wanted it and devised that scene so that it gave Clark no choice but to do so- Nolan agreed that yes, Superman would kill in that scenario, and they went ahead with it.

            Basically, it seems like they wanted to give Superman a specific reason for having a no-kill rule in the first place, so the idea is that killing Zod was traumatic for him and he never wants to do that again. Presumably, it will be explored in the sequel.

            In this respect, it might basically be a re-tread of The Dark Knight Saga- Batman Begins / MoS is about Bruce / Clark vowing not to kill (Begins did it better, of course, even if Batman lets Ra’s Al Ghul die and yes that’s actually kind of killing him Bruce), and TDK / BvS:DoJ is / will be Bruce / Clark living with the consequences of that choice, pitting him against a villain who tests that private vow (Joker / Luthor).

            The idea of MoS- badly executed- was that this was the story of how Clark becomes Superman, and killing Zod was part of that as he decides never to kill again.

            But yeah, they could have used the Phantom Zone if they wanted (though, I think I read somewhere that Snyder, Goyer or one of the producers said, all those Kryptonians died when they were shoved back in like that, so Zod was dead either way).

          • Writrzblok

            You need a reason to have a no-kill policy other than “killing is bad and therefore you shouldn’t do it?” Besides, one could argue he already values life by saving the kids in the bus, saving the guys on the rig and such, so wouldn’t he know already that killing is something he shouldn’t do, rendering their reasoning of “Giving him a reason not to kill again” pointless?

          • Toby Clark

            “Besides, one could argue he already values life by saving the kids in
            the bus, saving the guys on the rig and such, so wouldn’t he know
            already that killing is something he shouldn’t do,”
            …What? You’re arguing that because he didn’t let people die in an accident, he shouldn’t kill a violent genocidal warlord who he has no other way of containing at that moment?

            At least one Superman comic, I think written by Mark Waid shortly after Tower of Babel, has presented his code against killing as having been formed after having being forced to execute genocidal Kryptonian criminals. So this isn’t new to the Man of Steel continuity.
            Edit: I’ve since determined it was by John Ostrander, but was printed in the same trade paperback as Tower of Babel, hence my Waid mixup.

        • Kanonite

          I imagine the killing of Zod was a heat-of-the-moment decision, those happen and are often regretted afterwards.

          And with your suggestion he would eventually wake up and try flying back to Earth, provided that he is still in Earth’s solar system.

        • Wizkamridr

          I believe Goyer said this Superman can’t fly to the moon.

    • Jonathan Campbell

      I think his issue is, he thinks that if Superman had to kill Zod in order to stop him, then the movie is fundamentally wrong in the first place.

      Basically he probably prefers the “self-disposing” villain, or Superman finding some other non-violent way and if that way did not exist in the movie, he feels, then the movie is flawed, because Superman should not be placed in such a situation. He should be so smart / powerful / lucky that a way is available.

      Of course, he’s also blaming Superman for all the destruction caused in that city, which ignores a) that it was Zod’s ship that did the bulk of the damage, and b) that Zod was in control of the final fight most of the time (there was in fact one moment when Superman DID try and take the fight out of the city, flying upwards, but Zod knocked him back down).

      • Kanonite

        Yeah. Josh pretty much wants the more traditional awesomest dude evar Superman, not a more grounded variant.

      • The_Stig

        I didn’t have a problem with Superman killing Zod. Zod was never going to stop until one of them was dead. What I had a problem with was Superman’s lack of guilt over it. This should have been the reason why Superman does not kill, and the mass destruction of Metropolis should have been what causes Superman to be more careful about causing collateral damage.

        Instead we got…nothing.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          “Instead we got…nothing.”

          I think the big “…….AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” is evidence that Superman feels guilty over killing Zod.

          As far as the destruction of Metropolis goes, Superman has nothing to feel guilty about. The vast majority of the destruction was caused by Zods ship, and Clark could do nothing about that as he had to stop the World Engine on the other side of the planet which was the thing that allowed Zod’s ship to terraform the planet in the first place. The fight with Zod did much less damage and, furthermore, Zod was in control of that fight. Clark DID try to leave at one point, take the fight up and away from the city, but Zod knocked him back down.

          He took the Smallville fight into town, I’ll grant that, but even then- Superman punching, throwing and smashing the bad guy into buildings and exploding things? Yeah…that’s not new for the character. That’s the kind of thing he does ALL THE TIME.

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      Great, I watch the Marvel-Movies and have fun at the “goofy jokes”, you can watch this movie and “be inspired”…
      by the way, what is inspiring concerning “heroes killing bad guys”?

      • Wizkamridr

        I was referring to japanese heroes like ultraman and kamen rider. I believe it has to do with the culture. I could be wrong though.

    • The_Stig

      Returns was an opportunity pissed down the toilet. It had a good cast, a good Superman (Of all the problems this movie had, Brandon Routh was not one of them). Spacey wouldn’t have been my first choice as Luthor but I had no problem with the casting, a proven genre director coming off the biggest critical and financial hit of his career at the time, Most of the pieces were in place, except that Bryan Singer seemed to have no interest in making his own Superman movie–which I’m convinced would have been awesome– and was more concerned with aping Richard Donner.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Saying Man of Steel was better than those other Superman movies is a lot like saying Chlamydia is a better STD to contract than Syphilis. It may be true, but I still don’t want it.

      • Wizkamridr

        Or the secret of the ooze is better than singing turtles.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Pardon me, I didn’t mean to multi-reply. In regards to how Superman stopped Zod, the objection I had was how it was framed. Superman killing Zod had no weight to it because we don’t get an idea of how Superman feels about the sanctity of life. Oh, well, we know he’s willing to let his father die to preserve a secret, but I mean what has Pa Kent taught his son regarding the welfare of innocents?

      Oh, right. Maybe he should let innocents die for selfish reasons.

      You know what would have given Zod’s death more of an impact? If from the very beginning of the film Pa Kent taught his super powered son there is nothing…Nothing!…more important than the preservation of life. That Clark saving that school bus full of kids was something Pa should have been proud of. That above all else life must be cherished and protected. And in killing Zod Superman violates his Father’s most important lesson.

      That is one of the many reasons why the film doesn’t work for me. If it had been me I would have ignored Pa Kent and saved his life. Because the life of my father is more important than any secret.

      • Jonathan Campbell

        I do find it interesting that one of the arguments against MoS is that it doesn’t properly set-up a “killing is wrong” rule while another is that Superman killing Zod makes him the Man of Murder.

        As for saving Pa Kent, the main problem with that scene for me is….I think he probably could have saved him WITHOUT exposing his secret. Looked to me like he had enough time to do it; especially if Pa Kent ran and met him half-way.

        Also it perpetuates the myth that hiding under a highway bridge protects you from a twister (it doesn’t), but I didn’t learn that until later.

        • Thomas Stockel

          I think illustrating Superman’s motivations and values should have been a priority. What does Superman stand for? Why does he do what he does? We never get that groundwork the way Bruce Wayne/Batman got in Batman Begins. There we see Bruce’s motivations and him determining what line he will not cross. He will not take the law into his own hands, he will not murder.

          Also, we got an idea of why Bruce was traveling the world; he was learning about criminals, getting an idea of what it meant to live a life of desperation. Why is Clark traveling? What does he hope to learn working on a fishing boat? Working as a server in a bar? How are these things going to teach him how to be a hero? He’s grown up in a small town in the American midwest; he already knows what it’s like to be an everyman. Shouldn’t he be going to school to learn sciences, philosophy, the law? Shouldn’t he be traveling across the world to learn about different cultures, absorb new languages? Maybe we’ll get more of that in B vs. S, but somehow I doubt it.

          And you’re right about him probably being able to save Pa. I would think by this point Clark should know enough about his abilities that he might have an idea or two…instead of just standing there, mouth agape as he watches the man who raised him get torn apart. Very heroic, way to go. Maybe he should have been trying to figure out a way to stop that tornado. The Superman I grew up with thought like that.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            The reason he’s travelling is that he is afraid of revealing his powers but keeps finding reasons to use them; hence, every time he does, he moves on. He wasn’t training to be a hero; he was wandering aimlessly because he had no idea who or what he was or why he had those powers.

            That’s the version they were going for; Goyer’s idea was that he didn’t understand why everyone is so happy and cheerful whenever Superman shows up, and why Superman himself is so at ease with his abilities and alien heritage, when he felt it was more likely that learning about Superman and BEING Superman would be very, very frightening. The reason for all the destruction in the third act is to emphasise just how terrifying a battle between Superman and opponents of his own level would really be- something that, to be fair, most adaptations gloss over, and by that I mean: Superman and his enemies smash up Metropolis all the time, but this is the first time the mayhem and horror of such fights was stressed.

            Basically, I guess the theme of the film was supposed to be overcoming your fears and accepting your destiny, no matter how scary it might be.

            Of course, as Goyer noted by that, that’s not really what most people think of when they think of Superman. But you could argue that even on its own terms, its a rather clunky movie. I wouldn’t say it FAILED in what it set out to do (whether or not you think it should have set out to do that in the first place), but it certainly could have done it better. That’s one part of the article I can mostly agree with.

          • Thomas Stockel

            Okay, thanks for explaining it. And yeah, I think that is a pretty poor interpretation of Superman.

          • writebrain

            I agree with you, but I do love the film and think they executed it perfectly. The only thing that kind of comes across as myopic(and what I think people get in arms over) is a very basic filmmaking mistake at the end, is the cut from Superman having killed Zod, then to Kal and Ma Kent, then to the Daily Planet and Clark/Lois. It does feel a little abrupt, although I don’t think they intended it to be. The ending scene when she tells him “welcome to the Planet” is actually pretty amazing, as is the memory of Pa Kent seeing his son pretending to be Superman, but I think this is where the seeds of protest for the more sensitive moviegoers started to grow. It is hard to get everything correct in any film, especially one this huge, and I think the filmmakers just missed it. I don’t believe they were trying to be insensitive about the destruction, but I do believe they were trying to be realistic about what would happen when these beings go to war.

            To the people who want more humor in these types of films, I ask, is it really necessary? Or do you have to have everything be funny?people take these characters very serious, and to have people demand that these movies be funny OR ELSE, just smacks of disrespect and hipsterism. I know that I’m in the minority here, but I’m glad MOS didn’t have too much humor in it; it’s a better film because of it. I hate seeing movies where characters are mugging for the camera and yucking it up just so the audience can have its “good time”. Those movies that do that type of thing will age badly imo.

            Also, MOS did have humor in it, they just didn’t have people winking at the camera or throwing asides to the audience. If that’s going to be the mantra for DC films then I say bravo. Try watching Batman ’89 without cringing at the tired jokes and constant antics of Jack’s Joker, or Charlie Day’s character in Pacific Rim. Enough already, every movie doesn’t have to make you laugh to be good.

          • Writrzblok

            But every film should have levity at some point. It’s basic storytelling. If you have everything be dour and get worse and worse and worse, you have something that is unpleasant to watch, and not in a way that makes for compelling story.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            There are plenty of films that have little to no levity and they work fine.

            Mostly horror movies or psychological thrillers, not Superman movies, but saying that “every film” should have levity is wrong. There are always stories to be told about things only getting worse and worse and worse.

            And MoS doesn’t not have levity; its just, most of that levity is before Zod starts attacking.

            Or falls flat for people for one reason or another. But it is there.

          • Writrzblok

            Even in horror movies and psychological thrillers there is a (however infinitesimal) bit of levity, may it be a throwaway line or something said in exposition. I’m not saying they have to be knee slappers, just something to break the tension.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Yes, and Man of Steel has that as well.

            To say is an absolutely joyless movie with no levity whatsoever is hyperbole. Hell one of the complaints about the final scenes is that Lois makes a joke about their first kiss and Superman has a crack about destroying a government satellite (then a girl soldier says he’s kind of cute); it was felt they should have been MORE angsty and upset about everything they went through. There are other jokes and lighter moments in the film as well.

            Whether you personally missed those jokes, or didn’t find them funny, or thought they were insufficient to balance out the darkness and intensity of the rest of the movie, they WERE in there.

          • writebrain

            Depends on the film; I do agree that some humor is acceptable, but humor for humors sake usually means that the filmmakers are pandering to the audience, which isn’t a good thing imo.

          • Writrzblok

            I agree, it should feel natural and well placed.

          • Wizkamridr

            Batman did not exactly follow the rules in his movies. He let his master die in begins.
            He killed dent in order to save gordon.
            His toys were armed to the teeth. I did not see any remorse when he watched catwoman kill bane.

          • Thomas Stockel

            You’ve got a valid point there. I think the difference is as Maroni pointed out, Batman was not a killing. Bruce saw killing as an absolute last resort rather than standard operating procedure. He saved Joker’s life because he could, but killed Dent because there were no other options. He let Ra’s die because the dude was unrepentantly evil and had his parents killed, his moral compass strayed. Bane being killed by Catwoman? There’s a nuke about to go off and Selina isn’t going to be able to take down Bane in hand to hand combat; I think Bruce is enough of a pragmatist to realize she made the right call.

            But Superman killing Zod? I don’t deny that was the only option; if he didn’t break Zod’s neck innocent people were going to die. What bothers me is that Superman screams with remorse afterwards. Why? It’s not like he had to kill his best friend or something. Zod was a sociopath who killed his father. Now if we had a subplot from Pa Kent touched upon throughout the film about the sanctity of human life…

  • Wizkamridr

    “This is turning Superman into a metaphor for U.S. actions in Iraq, by having him destroy an entire city full of innocents to kill one guy, and trying to make us feel like it was completely justified. It doesn’t matter who gets hurt along the way, as long as we get the bad guy. This is basically the misguided U.S. fantasy of the rest of the world loving us for what we’ve done in the Middle East. ”
    When I served in Afghanistan, we didn’t kill any innocent people to get the bad guy. You’re entitled to your opinion, but you don’t see the whole picture unless you’ve worn the boots. Even most of our politicians don’t have a freaking clue.

    • To be fair, in Afghanistan you didn’t get the bad guy.

      • Wizkamridr

        I have no idea what you mean. We were fighting the bad guy over there. I wasn’t because I’m a medic. The infantry guys I was with were.

    • Guest

      I’m really trying to understand the point of this comment. Are you saying that because you personally never killed any innocent people, that no innocent people died in Afghanistan? Because even the DoD admits to thousands of civilian casualties in the war in Afghanistan. That’s not “opinion” but a cold hard fact.

      • Roughly 5-6 times as many as in 9/11 according to Wikipedia.

      • Wizkamridr

        I never said innocent people don’t die. That is part of war. Not all soldiers are cold blooded killers that intentionally kill innocent bystanders.

        • Guest

          Can you point out where in the article, or in this comment thread, that someone said or implied that soldiers are cold blooded killers?

          Also if innocent people dying is always a part of war, maybe the solution is not going to war based on vague, constantly changing reasons?

    • Robert Hale

      Also, and I am sure you know this. Iraq and Afganistan are two completely different conflicts brought about my completely different reasons.

      I think what hes trying to get at is the Iraqi war caused a lot of death and violence (This is what Wars do after all) all to remove one man, Saddam Hussein, from power.

      The movie presents a similar situation, a lot of death and violence to stop one man, Zod. The movie portrays this as a heroic and good thing to do, which is applicable to Iraq, as whether or not that was heroic or good is still up for debate.

      • Wizkamridr

        I disagree that man of steel represented the war in Iraq. FYI: There was death and destruction in Afghanistan. I hope you are not trying to insult my intelligence. People are just bitching about the film because they feel their childhood was trampled on. You are entitled to your opinion and so am I. If you hate the film, then so be it. I did not feel the movie ruined superman’s image.

    • Dar

      “When I served in Afghanistan, we didn’t kill any innocent people to get the bad guy.”

      Sure you didn’t.

      All those dead innocent Afghan actually committed suicide because they couldn’t bear your pure awesomeness, yes?

  • Alexa

    Yep all of this, and I too REALLY wanted to like Man of Steel but I just couldn’t. Superman Returns has major problems, but it didn’t make me feel like an empty shell of person like this crap fest did. Sure that movie was kind of dull, but it got Superman mostly right, he at least saved people. But I guess saving people and cracking jokes is just sooooo lame nowadays :P

    • CaptainCalvinCat

      Apparently it is… and that’s sad. Like I said – if they want to go that route, that’s okay, at least I have the marvel-movie-universe, which deals with dark episodes, yes, but has people cracking jokes before and after.

    • Jonathan Campbell

      He saved the guys on that burning oil rig, you know.

      AND he saved those kids on the schoolbus (got chewed out for it, but he still saved them).

      And all that fighting he did…yes, he still save people by doing that.

      I thin MoS is a deeply flawed movie, but some of these arguments are hyperbolic. It was Zod and his people that caused the vast majority of destruction in Metropolis, and it was Superman who put a stop to that. Superman DID try to take the fight with Zod out of the city (albeit it was a “blink and you’ll miss it moment”) but Zod knocked him back down, and Zod had already stated his intentions to kill every human on Earth out of spite so a Superman II-style “lets fight somewhere else so nobody gets hurt” request would probably have just provoked Zod further.

      The overall tone of the movie is too dark and serious, and there are problems with structure and other things, but MoS DID get Superman “mostly right”. Even Superman smashing Zod and the other Kryptonians into buildings and explosive stuff isn’t something alien to Superman; its something Superman does ALL THE FRIGGIN’ TIME.

      • Alexa

        I argue against getting the character mostly right. The movie got him very lightly right, in little moments. And really it would have been nice to have more saving and less destruction, b/c those saving moments happened too few and far in between IMO. Plus the fact that the movie made Supes kind of dickish by destroying that truckers truck and just acting all indignant that the government would want to know who he is, even though he basically gave them a big hint rendering the scene absolutely pointless. I’m sorry but this just a movie that does not get the character at all, it was too busy with its crappy fight scenes and trying to be profound and failing miserably. Plus how are the people of Smallville safe in their homes when Supes just destroys the buildings their in anyway. Like Josh said I want to feel hopeful and had a good time when watching a Superman movie, this movie didn’t do that. At all….

        • Jonathan Campbell

          Well, the trucker scene was probably meant to be a (poorly done, I’ll grant you) call back to Superman II, when he comes back and gets even with the guy who was harassing him before (of course, totalling his truck was different from letting a guy humiliate himself punching Superman).

          Superman destroying buildings….that isn’t getting Superman wrong. Superman wrecks stuff in his fights, and he does it a lot.

          And he’s been indignant about the government trying to work against him- regardless of the reason- before as well. Totalling a satellite that was specifically assigned to spy on him is pretty low on the list of Superman’s historical anti-government activities.

          Most of the stuff you are talking about- the destruction, the fact that he “only” saved people a handful of times, the fight scenes- those are more about tone, plot and script than the character himself.

          They have him travel by a different road, and probably the wrong one, but I can buy that this guy is Superman.

          • Alexa

            Well I guess we’re going to have to agree to disagree. And yeah Superman does destroy buildings in instances, but really I think what bugged me is that I think the first film should have been a set up to how great Superman is, showing him saving more people and then maybe have the next films where he gets into a big fight. Really like Josh says this movie did not make me feel hopeful, I was more bored and depressed that the makers feel like we have to make a dark version of Superman, as opposed to having a dark moment in a Superman movie which I believe is possible, but you have to have proper set up for that. This movie just really failed in that regard, it was just things happening at a break neck pace (which is a big technical issues I had; the pace was really terrible). The structure and tone just really sucked. And I really hate Snyder’s attitude about the whole thing, like people like me who complained about the film, are lame that we were bothered by the dark tone and that we cling too hard to Donner’s version. And well yeah we hold the Donner version in high regard b/c it really got the character right, I know this b/c it made the Jerry Siegel the creator of Superman cry tears of joy, if that’s not getting the character right I don’t what is. Really all I wanted was a fun, bright, film that makes me love and believe in the character, not some pity party of a film where a guy is basically told that he shouldn’t save people by his own father, and said father dying in the dumbest way possible. Its just a bad film and representation of the character. If this is the best that they can do, then they need to do better, the character deserves that much.

            P.S. I should also note that I had no problems with the actors, Henry Cavill probably would have made for a good Superman, but he sadly was given very little to work with, most especially a director who kind of sucks at directing actors IMO.

  • Cristiona

    I… I think you’re overthinking it here.

    • Alexa

      What’s there to over think, this was a way too dark and depressing film to be considered a Superman movie. And the fact that WB is basically treating humor like a disease is kind of stupid…

      • Jonathan Campbell

        The overthinking is that all this is based on the RUMOUR that WB have this policy, when no evidence has been presented.

        And thusfar, MoS is the only DC movie to have very little humour.

        • Alexa

          Well I really wouldn’t be surprised if that rumour were true just going by how MoS’s tone was….

          • Jonathan Campbell

            Shazam is supposed to be a fun and upbeat movie.

          • Alexa

            Well I’ll give credit to that film. But still am weary about the general tone beyond that film.

      • Cristiona

        …the part where he claims Man of Steel is a metaphor for US policy in Iraq?

        • MichaelANovelli

          I know the Batman films have fit that bill, at least…

          • Jonathan Campbell

            How so?

            I mean, yeah- they’ve got a lot of post-9/11 stuff in them, but I can’t think of much about Iraq specifically.

          • MichaelANovelli
          • Jonathan Campbell

            (gee, don’t be ashamed to shill your own work)

            Anyway, most of that War on Terror stuff wasn’t really anything to do with US policy in Iraq; it was more the Patriot Act and torturing prisoners in general, and the Enhanced Interrogation scene is the aspect that owes the least to Bush-era politics- not saying they didn’t have that in mind, but “Batman beats up the villain in an attempt to get information” is not something this movie invented.

            As for your other points I’ll….(twitch) restrain myself.

            EDIT: Hey, 100th comment.

          • MichaelANovelli

            One should never be shy about putting themselves out there. ^_^

  • Cameron Vale

    I had concerns about MoS from day one. Batman is a successful businessman who anonymously aids a besieged police force trying to impose law and order, an explicitly right-wing fantasy, so Nolan and company are a logical match; meanwhile Superman is a mysterious alien visitor whose only wish is to work tirelessly for the benefit of humanity, an explicitly left-wing fantasy, so exactly the wrong hands for the subject matter to fall into. I know Batman and Superman have often interacted but I’ve never liked the idea, except maybe as a ‘Green Lantern/ Green Arrow’ political allegory which is not even remotely the case as far as I know.

    • Jonathan Campbell

      That’s a pretty one-sided view of both characters.

      For the record, to the best of my knowledge, Nolan is a Liberal.

      • friendly reader

        Also, his movies have humor. They’re not laugh-a-minute fun rides, but there’s plenty of wit, dry snark, and black humor. Every Nolan film I’ve been to has had the audience laughing at points.

        The “no joke” rule just confirms to me that they’re trying to imitate Christopher Nolan films without actually being or even understanding what people *like* in Christopher Nolan films. Which is why I’m looking forward to “Interstellar” a lot but “Superman vs Batman” not at all.

        • Jonathan Campbell

          There is no “no jokes” rule.

          If there is, no evidence has been presented of it. At this point, its just a rumour.

          • friendly reader

            Okay, let me rephrase: “If there *is* a “no joke” rule, this just confirms…” etc. etc. Thinking about it, though, I think “MoS” may just have been humorless because David Goyer just isn’t a good writer when he’s working on his own…

            I actually didn’t hate Man of Steel until the last 15 minutes, by the way, I actually liked parts of it a lot for Snyder’s visual style. But any film that makes Zod fighting Superman so dull that I fast-forwarded through it loses the few points it had earned with me up until then. Zod should have died with the rest of the Kryptonians, and Superman could’ve spent the remaining time, I dunno, actually saving lives and being heroic.

  • I am going to wait and see. I don’t want to criticize something before having a real sense of their oeuvre.

    If the WB does create a broader movie universe that has a distinct feel compared to Marvel that is not really a problem in my mind and if they want to take a more dower route that is fine, I will watch it and judge each as a standalone unit and as part of the whole, but there is no reason to pre judge this stuff based on a nebulous rumor about wanting to abolish jokes. I kind of want to see darker takes on things, and while I had my own issues with “Man of Steel” (mostly having to do with script structure and artistic design rather than any of the internal logic of the movie) it is still fine.

    Judging your feeling on a movie based on previous incarnations of a character is fine, but much like getting new Doctor it can lead people to be overly caustic about things that are just fine.

    It is clear that killing Zod was a core element of the new mythos, and the story they wanted to tell. I do not understand why people are so immediately dismissive of it. Honestly it isn’t even out of character, Zod has been killed in multiple iterations and that action is in no way the breaking point of the narrative.

    My blog review:

  • cr0wgrrl

    It takes a lot of honesty and bravery to publicly change one’s mind and recant a previously defended position. Kudos to you, sir, for being able to do so. For what it’s worth, I completely agree. The Winter Soldier proved that you could take Captain Marvel, a character who stands for the same sort of things as Superman, and drop him into a post 9-11 world without losing any of his integrity, character or ethics. And I mourned for Superman more than a little when I watched that movie, thinking of what Man of Steel could have been and wasn’t.

    • Wizkamridr

      There was destruction, and yet no one got hurt. The only reason cpt merica did not kill bucky, was because of their friendship. He killed bad guys in his 1st movie as well as the avengers movie.

      • Greg Price

        There were plenty of people dying in Winter Soldier. They just didn’t dwell on the “guts and gore” aspect of it.

  • Storyteller

    Thinking about it too hard. The whole political corollary you went for is seriously strained logic, in that it’s pretty poor propaganda if you had to work this hard and it took a year to figure it out. Can you honestly say this movie conditions anyone to accept past American military intervention? Because I’ve never met anyone who sais “I disagreed with the invasion of Iraq, but after watching Man of Steel I’m okay with it.”
    If you think they’re just being really subtle, I submit they’re too subtle. Propaganda wants people to make the connection and doesn’t hide its purpose, it ennobles it. E.G. = I support the troops. That’s a propaganda line because opposition to funding military incursions is by this tactic equated to NOT supporting the troops, which was political suicide and has genuinely awful connotations. We all feel that troops on the ground need support and proper equipment, but that doesn’t mean we should agree with every use to which the military is put. Man of Steel does none of that. If anything they go out of the way to make the army look like jerks/morons.
    The biggest problem with Man of Steel was Lois Lane. They tried so hard to buck the Silver Age comics styling of “something for Superman to save who just wants to be Mrs. Superman” they went the other way. The weird conversations and plot devices to make her look tough and important and intrepid were so forced and clunky (and her later involvement so contrived). But heaven forbid you make a Superman movie and not have Lois Lane so they have to shoehorn in her character development and find some way to give her purpose in a duel between gods without making her the shiny toy to fight over.

  • mofs

    I really enjoyed Man of Steel and The Dark Knight series. I think Warner Bros has a difficult task. Marvel has grabbed the ground aiming for comical [“alike the comics” – not “farcical”] so Warner Bros/ DC has to do something different. I disagree overt humour (such as Hulk bashing Loki or RDJ’s quips) is absolutely necessary to enjoy a comic film, and enjoy the above films (and more – see Inception, Fellowship of the Ring and The Departed) with nary a laugh out loud moment in sight whilst also enjoying the funnier movements of Guardians of the Galaxy. Now, if only DC and Marvel could thrash it out so we don’t see a giant ship crashing into the ground in the next comic book movie – THAT would brighten up any movie for me.

    • MarshallDog

      Mofs, yes. DC is in a tough spot because everyone likes the Marvel movies. They’re trying to do something different and everyone is saying, “This sucks! Why can’t your movies be more like Marvel’s?” If they did that, they’d probably be labeled as cheap knockoffs or soulless money grabs.

      I’m really hopeful that due to Batman not having world-crushing powers that any climactic fight in Dawn Of Justice will not involve giant buildings/ships/things crashing in huge clouds of dust. Then again that’s assuming the climax will be a fight between Superman and Batman, and not Superman and Batman setting aside their feud to deal with whatever Lex Luthor has created to destroy Metropolis/Gotham.

    • Mike Magnum

      As someone who actually read DC. The DC should not have the same tone. You can go with this dark depressing tone with Batman. But each character is different and should have a tone that fits them. That why i think Man of Steel was horrible and thank god the critics agreed. MCU hasn’t really dealt with there darkest characters yet.

  • MarshallDog

    Quick notes on Christopher Nolan’s right-wing politics… Have we so quickly forgotten the best scene in The Dark Knight where Batman is trying to torture information out of the Joker only to have the Joker laugh in his face and lie to him? Isn’t that the exact point liberals have been making about the ineffectiveness of torture?

    Add in that the machine Batman built to spy on everyone to find the Joker was immediately destroyed because he agreed that no one man should have that power. The message I took away from that scene were tracking down criminals is a tough job and you may need to go too far sometimes, but try not to abuse your power. If Batman were a right-wing hero, he would have kept the spying machine because he believed in his own incorruptible nature.

    Overall I thought the 3 movies were pretty well balanced in showing the corrupting nature of crime fighting. Neither the left wing or the right wing has all the answers and both require morals to be check in some instances.

    • Have we also so quickly forgotten that Batman renditioning a foreign citizen for the US Justice system is presented as entirely heroic? And that the entire theme stated during the ending is a neoconservative mantra (it’s okay for a self-appointed leader to lie to the common people for their own good).

      • MarshallDog

        No, I haven’t forgotten. I do think you’re over-analyzing the Hong Kong sequence, but movies are up for interpretation so fine, you have a point. Though to take that a bit further if Batman were the neoconservative hero he wouldn’t turn Lao over to the police, he’d keep him in the batcave and torture him.

        If the ending to The Dark Knight were the end of the story I guess you’d also have a point on Batman lying about killing people. But a huge turning point in the next movie is how the lie eventually backfires and tears the city apart.

        Look, maybe Christopher Nolan is a huge right-wing freak. I don’t really care if he is as long as his movies are good. I also just don’t see it. To me his movies are too complex to fall under ultra-conservative or hippie-liberal.

        • Robert Hale

          That’s not a movie made by a neocon, that’s a movie made by a necon caricature. On the left we may view neoconservatives as the toturing loving wackadoodles, but they do not see themselves that way. They view themselves as the hero willing to do what is necessary. willing to step over that line… but only when needed!

          So him building a device that spies on everyone then using it to capture the badguy then dismantling it is exactly a neoconservative dream! Because that is how they would make their movie.

          • Jonathan Campbell

            I would just like to point out to everyone involved here that Christopher Nolan is a registered donor to the Democrat Party, and is otherwise pretty private about his political opinions.

            Nolan is not a neoconservative, or a right-wing nutjob. He is a Liberal who is trying to present neo-con ideas in a sympathetic light even though he probably disagrees with them. I’d speculate is attitude is “I’m not sure about this stuff, but times are dangerous and I don’t have the answers”.

            I get the feeling that he and his brother (who co-created Person of Interest, which gives an interesting spin on this little debate) and Goyer just tried to be relevant but also balanced and ambiguous. Batman tortures the Joker for information (though, this isn’t anything new for Batman, is it?) but the Joker gives him up a lie; Batman renditions Lau, but Lau makes a deal for immunity; Batman hacks all the phones in Gotham, but Fox objects and Batman destroys it after using it to find the Joker (and I think Mendo pointed out that this uber-phone hack is presented as more morally wrong than Batman going out every night and beating the shit out of people and that’s kind of weird).

            So no, not right-wing nut job; Liberal willing to have an open debate.

            And it is open, because although these themes are deliberately inserted into these movies and are consciously post-9/11, first and foremost they are meant to be entertainment. In interviews he’s been pretty adamant about that- you can read what you want into these stories, but his own main priority is treating them AS stories.

          • MarshallDog

            Jonathan, this is the point I was trying to make. I don’t think the movie was being blatant or subtle with regards to a single political ideology. The movie is complex enough that we could probably do point/counter-point on this for several rounds. People can interpret films however they want of course. I do think the argument of Christopher Nolan as a neoconservative is a bit misguided as there’s pretty obvious evidence he’s not. But whatever, I don’t have to agree with his politics. I only want him to make good movies. And if his movies are supposed to be brainwashing people into following his politics, they’re clearly failing.

  • Avec

    I watched the Nolan Batman movies and assumed he was left-wing. The Tim Burton Batman was more right wing, at least he killed the Joker.

  • Dar

    Given the last 6 years, I think killing a whole bunch of innocent people for get one (maybe?) “bad guy” is a left-wing policy, as well.