“If Superman doesn’t kill, why would Zac k Snyder allow him to snap the neck of General Zod at the end of his film Man of Steel?” I asked myself at the end of the movie. What does it mean for Superman now that he will forever have the stain of death on his heart? He’s supposed to be a hero, not a murderer. However, this isn’t the first time Superman has gotten his hands dirty. Angry at Snyder’s ending, I went on a quest to find evidence supporting my argument that Superman doesn’t kill and that Snyder’s departure from the true Superman was detrimental to his development. But what I found was ComicBookMovie.com’s list of instances when Superman either indirectly or directly killed another. And it’s not a short list.
Internal conflict replaced my confusion. If Superman has killed in the past, why is his deadly act at the end of Man of Steel so shocking? He did it to protect innocent people from a villain after all.
As much as I wish I could ask Zack Snyder what his reasoning was, I’m left with my warring thoughts, trying to sort out if Superman really has a no-killing policy. The thought of our superhero killing others in the name of justice like military soldiers is slightly unfathomable. It would make him too…human.
The superhero that has dominated the DC Universe throughout the 21st century has been Batman, an ordinary human being who becomes a vigilante without powers. He’s got some really awesome toys, insane fighting abilities, and super smarts that make him a triple threat, but many admire him most for his relatability. Figuratively speaking, with an insane amount of money, intelligence, and intense combat skills, anyone can be Batman. Is anyone here able to become a Kryptonian with super speed, super strength, super flight, and other super abilities? No one? Didn’t think so.
For the longest time, Superman has been seen as too perfect. The Man of Steel was at a level of perfection unattainable for regular people. Audiences were hungry for a hero they could relate with, and Batman became that hero. Superman didn’t understand the pain of humans because he always made the perfect, clean choice. Regular people hardly ever make a perfect, clean choice. He was a god , and we were subjects scrambling to match his impossible standard. Not many people look up to someone they see as looking down on them all the time.
So maybe Snyder’s fresh take on Superman was a marketing strategy to make him as popular as his darker contemporary. Many people thought he would turn into a Batman-esque figure with Christopher Nolan producing the film. However, Snyder explained in multiple interviews that he wanted his Superman to be relatable. He wanted this unattainable, god-like figure to become a man with extraordinary abilities. Killing Zod at the end of the movie was one way to accomplish this.
To fit into the world today, to be the relatable character Snyder wanted him to be, Superman needed to be lowered from his spotless godly throne. So, he violently killed Zod with his bare hands. Though it had to be done to save innocent lives, it most definitely wasn’t the perfect, clean choice we’ve grown so accustomed to with Superman. To be perfect is to be boring. To be broken because of a choice made for the common good of others is inspiring.
I’m not saying in any way that Superman is going to become like Batman, throwing people out of windows and yelling at criminals in a raspy voice. He still needs to be the hope that the “S” on his chest stands for, and he does that better without a dark costume and without a black mask. However, what Snyder has done is put Superman in a situation he couldn’t super speed, super strength or super whatever his way out of, making him a man who must kill to save others. He had to make a choice that took him off his throne and put him in the grey area, a color America is quite familiar with when it comes to ideas of national security and government protection.
The American way isn’t what it used to be, and as a reflection of America and her ideals, Superman must change. Zack Snyder has removed Superman’s god-like status and created a man-who-happens-to-be-made-out-of-steel (or Kryptonian DNA). However, Snyder’s Superman isn’t relatable to every individual citizen because not every individual citizen is murdering villains who attack innocent lives. Instead, Snyder made the man of Steel relatable to the nation he grew up in as a whole. Superman is the ultimate superhero, and America wants to be the ultimate super nation ready to come to the aid of oppressed countries and to fight the forces of evil from others. To do so, America and her heroic symbol have stepped into the grey, and accepted their duty to carry out the unthinkable to fight for Truth, Justice, and the American way.
God Bless America.
-contributed by Camila Quinones