By Nick Saunders
If you are reading this post I will make an educated assumption that you have seen the film in question. If not, go see it first so I don’t have to receive death threats for spoiling your experience.
I want to throw my humble opinion out there regarding this most recent addition to the Superman mythology.
At the end of Superman’s climactic battle with Zod in Man of Steel, he over-torques the villain’s spinal cord and reluctantly ends his life. A family of humans is spared a country-fried death.
Many would have you believe that this is a travesty and that Zack Snyder ran our beloved hero into the dirt by having him break a cardinal rule.
This is not Batman. Superman’s psyche was not molded by the murder of his parents and does not possess the dark, damaged nature of his Gotham City contemporary. Superman has killed when absolutely necessary. Heck, in the comics he killed Doomsday at least two times that I can recall, Hank Henshaw a couple of times, would have killed Darkseid in Final Crisis had his own temporally-displaced bullet not done it first, and the list goes on. Even in that miserable film Superman IV, he threw the golden mullet-adorned Nuclear Man in a nuclear reactor and destroyed him. That’s right, even Christopher Reeve did not believe in the rehabilitation of super-powered homicidal maniacs.
This leads to my next point- this is not 1978 and Christopher Reeve has passed on. If the idealized, “aw shucks Lois that blouse really looks swell on you” characterization still resonated, why did everyone crap all over 2006’s Superman Returns? Brandon Routh should be a household name if that held true, yet instead of making more films as Superman he became Dylan Dog.
Snyder took a risk and presented a conflicted, yet relatable Kal-El to the audience. One who will do what is horrifyingly necessary to protect the people and planet he loves from virtually omnipotent would-be decimators. He did not do so lightly or sans remorse.
Killing is sometimes needed to defeat unspeakable, unrelenting evil. Some 70 years ago, staunch pacifism would have turned our country into a happy little place called the United States of Germany.
Superman has grown up, perhaps we all should follow suit.