Following up on my earlier post, SUPERMAN DOES NOT KILL. EVER. NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. NO MATTER WHAT “CONTEXT”.
As I’ve discussed this with many people, those who are like-minded and agree with me, and those who don’t, there’s a few more things I’d like to address.
For the record, I really am not the anal-retentive fanboy that I may seem to be. I am actually rather fine with changes to canon and continuity as it relates to comics. I also understand that changes are often necessary when adapting one medium to another. What works in a book, or a comic-book, may not work the same in a TV show, cartoon, or movie, so they may change some things. Specifically with Superman, just during my lifetime of reading comics, I’ve seen Superman’s background, origin, and status quo change multiple times. When I began reading comics as a wee lad, the then current status quo of adult Superman was that Clark Kent was a news anchor for WGBS television, with his co-anchor Lana Lang, whom he was dating, while Lois still worked at the Daily Planet as a reporter and pined over Superman.
Then the Crisis on Infinite Earths came along, and John Byrne’s MAN OF STEEL rewrote the origin, then that was rewritten by Mark Waid’s BIRTHRIGHT, which was then rewritten by Geoff Johns’ Secret Origin, only for the whole DCU to get rebooted again and we got Grant Morrison’s surprisingly bland new origin in Action Comics. And that doesn’t count separate tales like SECRET IDENTITY, ALL STAR SUPERMAN, EARTH ONE, and many others.
The Christopher Reeve Superman movies were also different than the Superman in the comics at the time. Then there was the Adventures of Superman TV show, which I used to watch in re-runs, the Superboy TV show, which aired after Superboy had been written out of continuity in the comics, Lois & Clark, Smallville, and the various cartoon series, all with their different takes on the origin, some I liked, some I didn’t, but who can say which is the “real” story of Superman? Ultimately, none of that really matters to me, as long as the stories are good, and they get the essence of the character right. And for me, there is that ONE aspect that I just can’t compromise on, when it comes to Superman. It’s where I personally draw the line.
So for Man of Steel, from what I’ve heard about it, most of the changes could work for me. Lois tracking him down, finding out who he is and what he can do, and ultimately being the one who comes up with his “Clark Kent” disguise with the glasses. Fine. Perry White is Black now (& Pete Ross is White again). Fine. Jenny Olson instead of Jimmy Olson. Fine. The changes to Krypton and the backstory of Jor-El, Lara, Zod, etc. All fine with me, none of those changes are deal-breakers by themselves, I’d just have to see how it was written. But I just don’t want to read about or watch a story where Superman deliberately kills someone. Ever. That’s just not MY Superman. So that’s why I didn’t go see this movie.
But in regards to my previous post on the subject, I got some interesting responses. I’d noticed that was getting a bunch of new hits from this forum, where someone linked to it, so I backtracked it and took a look and saw this first response from “Would Be Watcher”: His argumentation is basically, Allan Moore did a wonderful story therefore anything that goes any other direction is not Superman… Can I politely say BS?
I agree, that would be BS, if that’s what I was saying, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t saying that I feel this way because that’s how Alan Moore wrote it in his story, I was just using that as one example in which I think Superman deliberately killing someone could worked, because it was the “last” Superman story
I posted my blog myself on the Gail Simone Forum, and this genius, Kevin T. Brown immediately responded: Except in Superman II. Oh, and in Superman #22 (Byrne reboot). OH, and Doomsday. Other than that, yeah, he doesn’t kill.
When someone else pointed out that I talk about all that, Brown later acknowledges: Which I ignored. I never even bothered to click the link.
Didn’t read it, but gave a snarky response anyway. Welcome to the internet.
What’s interesting about that response is that I’ve noticed many similar ones by defenders of the film, across the net. When someone says they don’t like Superman killing Zod in Man of Steel, defenders point to other examples of Superman killing someone in other stories. Yeah, so? Just because other writers did it, doesn’t make it right. That argument only works if someone objects to Man Of Steel, but supports some other time it was done, which is why I made a point last time of breaking down the John Byrne story, because that’s exactly what many of John Byrne’s hardcore fans (the few he has left) try to do. That’s hypocrisy, which I don’t agree with.
And regarding Superman 2, there’s a LOT of things I don’t like about that movie. I liked it as a kid, but then I also thought Superman 3 was funny as kid. Looking back, as an adult, those films just don’t hold up anymore. First, at least in Superman 2, Superman beat Zod and the others by outsmarting them, not just beating them to death. He tricked them into getting depowered (although you have to wonder why their super-hearing didn’t work when Superman whispered his plan to Lex). Then he knocks them down the cliff, which many interpret as killing them, although the original cut of the film showed them being taken away in handcuffs. But if that theatrical cut was meant to show them being killed, that was wrong too.
But I also didn’t like Superman’s “amnesia kiss” to Lois, deliberately messing with her mind. And then Superman going back to that diner to beat the crap out of the man who beat him earlier when Superman didn’t have powers. That was also petty, and shows that Superman really is a wimp without his powers. That’s crap writing too.
As for Doomsday. I can kind of accept that one, too, under the same premise of the Alan Moore story. It was The Death of Superman, and although we never really thought that Superman would be killed for good, the concept was still that it was “the end”. That’s the last Superman story. And he didn’t just kill Doomsday, Doomsday also killed him, and Superman knew that was possible. So he sacrificed his own life to end the threat of Doomsday.
It’s like Holmes and Moriarty going over the cliff. The Hero and The Villain dying together. So it works for me, although that whole story in general is still pretty bogus. The Powers That Be wanted to come up with the story of Superman’s death. So instead of trying to craft some intricate thought-provoking tale with, perhaps, Superman facing the greatest challenge from one of his arch-enemies, like Lex Luthor or Brainiac (or both), they just have some big rampaging thoughtless monster burst out of the ground and spend 5 issues smashing things until finally he and Superman beat each other to death. YAWN.
Then there’s another defense that I’ve seen often, where people try to say that this is the beginning of Superman’s career, so he’s still new and learning things, and maybe this is how he develops his code against killing? They point to Superman’s anguished reaction after he killed Zod, and say perhaps we’ll see him dealing with the ramifications of his actions in the next film, and then he’ll resolve to never kill again.
Well, I don’t buy that argument for many reasons. First, if your defense of something that happens in a movie is that maybe it will be explained and dealt with in the next movie, then that means the movie is a failure. And second, he has to kill someone in order to learn that killing people is wrong?!? As someone on one board said in response, I didn’t know that rape was a bad thing until after I raped a woman, and now I swear I’ll never rape anyone again. Right.
That argument also doesn’t hold up when most of those same people have argued that Superman HAD to kill Zod. That he had “no other choice,” because there was “no other way” to stop Zod. If that’s the case, then how can Superman swear that he’ll never kill again, no matter what? What happens the next time that he’s in a situation where there is “no other way”? The next time some villain is threatening to kill an innocent family, and Superman “can’t” stop him unless him kills him, then what’s his excuse? What’s Superman going to say to the relatives of those civilians, when they ask why he didn’t just kill the bad guy, like he did last time? “Oh, well, last time I did it I felt really bad afterwards, so that’s why I had to let your loved ones get killed this time.” Yeah, that will go over real well.
See, that’s the problem with killing. Once you’ve crossed that line, there’s no turning back. It’s the same argument I have against John Byrne’s story, he tries to say that Superman was justified in executing the 3 Kryptonians because they killed 5 billion people, a crime without comparison. So, what, it’s a numbers thing now? What if they’d only killed 4 billion, nine hundred and ninety nine million, nine hundred and ninety nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety nine people? And if that’s okay, then keep counting down. What’s the magic number of victims where it suddenly becomes okay for Superman to be an executioner? Really, why can’t Superman execute someone who had murdered just one person? Again, that’s the problem, once you set the precedent that it’s okay to kill, there’s no turning back.
But, really, what bugs me the most about this topic, is the number of people I’ve seen who not only support the act, but are extremely dismissive of any objections. People are sounding downright bloodthirsty. I’ve seen people describe the idea that Superman shouldn’t kills as being “naïve” and even “childlike”. A Superman who has a solid moral base is passé. One person on Twitter, in response to my first post, said “Superman is not a fossil.” Because, of course, a superhero who doesn’t kill bad guys is so old fashioned. Even the producer of the movie has made multiple comments about how his Superman “ain’t no boy scout.” As I mentioned before, when I first brought this up on Facebook someone said “they could have made a movie where Superman rescues kittens from trees and kisses babies, but they didn’t.” It’s like there’s no inbetween for these people, Superman is either a ruthless badass or a worthless pussy.
And I’m no prude! I love violence in fiction, too, sometimes. My all-time favorite book is AMERICAN PYSCHO, I’m going to go see WORLD WAR Z tomorrow (I’m taking my mother, for her birthday). But that doesn’t mean that EVERYTHING has to be violent, that ALL heroes have to kill. Why is it so hard to see that SUPERMAN should be one of the paragons who finds some other way? Heck, just the fact that so many people are so easily accepting the violence in Man of Steel proves to me that now, more than ever, we NEED a true hero like Superman, to be an inspiration.
Anyway, I know nothing I write here will change anyone’s mind, just like no one is changing mine. So be it. Ultimately, it’s just a movie. Life goes on.
You and I don’t agree on whether or not Superman should kill, but your points are well made. I don’t have very firm ideas on what Superman would or wouldn’t (or should or shouldn’t) do, probably because I view him as more of a concept than a character. I look at Superman from the outside, and what I like about the character is the myriad of ways he can be interpreted and reinterpreted, and still feel like “Superman” (to me). I’ve recently read some of the early Action Comics stories, along with Grant Morrison’s take on the character in Supergods, and I really like the tougher, social crusader character – Superman as more of a threat than an ideal, essentially. I’m okay with his being a character that, under certain circumstances, is willing to kill. Not so much to do it coldly or gleefully, but still willing to do it when the situation merits the response. I find that a more interesting take on the concept than the “Boy Scout” take that’s been the standard for so many years.
Well, that right there is my biggest problem, that “Boy Scout” keeps getting used as a pejorative to describe Superman. Boy scouts are supposed to be good guys that you can count on when you need them.
But I’d say the tough “social crusader” version of Superman, the one who physically threatened slum lords, and bullied bank managers into loaning money to needy people, only worked for the earlier version of Superman because he was significantly less-powered than he is now. Back when he was closer to Doc Savage or Steve Austin (I mean the Bionic Man, not Stone Cold). Him being willing to mix it up and get his hands dirty, if necessary, was more acceptable then.
But now, with the current Superman, who can fly around the world in a split-second, survive a nuclear bomb, hear and see almost anything, etc. He’s a walking, thinking, potential Weapon of Mass Destruction. I’d say in that in those circumstances he HAS to be more restrained in what he does, and how he operates. If someone with that power levels starts trying to fix world problems, where does it end, how far does he go? If he can stop some random guy from beating his wife, why not fly overseas and overthrow brutal dictators? Then you’re getting into Miracleman/Mark Millar’s The Authority territory.
Definitely. And I can see where it’d be a problem for the monthly adventures of Superman. But for something like a movie, miniseries, or Elseworlds (something that is adapting the concept of Superman, basically) I find it more interesting.
And I didn’t really mean “Boy Scout” as a pejorative. It’s just not a version that appeals to me as much as either the more sci fi Superman in All-Star, the social crusader, or the Secret Identity version (which makes the character more human and less of a symbol).
I’d say All Star is my ideal take on the character. I guess that’s why I was disappointed in Morrison’s Action Comics, I was expecting more of the sci-fi high concepts, but he chose to bring Superman down to Earth. I wish he could have followed up All Star with some of those prequel miniseries and one-shots that he once said he had in mind. Or a sequel showing the “Superman 2” that Prof. Quintum would create.
I haven’t seen it, but a few bootleg clips have popped up on youtube. I’ll say the effects look good.
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