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I guess I just like liking things

manofsteelThis weekend I watched Man of Steel with some friends. I’d seen it twice before, but it had been a long time (11 months) since I’d last seen it. I’ve read a bunch of reactions to it (previously on zwolanerd: Daniel’s thoughts on it) and we’re already gearing up the hype train for 2016’s Batman/Superman movie. I liked the movie quite a bit, even though I understand people’s gripes about it.

As near as I can tell, people’s main gripes with the movie are these (spoilers for a year-and-a-half-old movie):

  1. Major property destruction, both in Smallville and Metropolis
  2. Superman kills a dude on purpose

It occurred to me during this weekend’s rewatch that this is all new for the guy. Sure, he’s been aware of his powers for some time and has worked to use them here and there, but he is being thoroughly tested in ways he never expected. In a short span of time he learns not only where he’s from but also that there are jerks from there who are hunting him down right this minute. It’s kind of a lot to deal with. So, yeah, he knows how to focus so that his super hearing and laser eyes don’t interfere with his day-to-day life, but he’s never had to fight someone as strong as him, so he’s focusing on defeating this person.  He’s not used to it so he’s not thinking about trying to protect property and other people, his main goal is to stop this madman from terraforming Earth and killing everyone on it. At one point he tells a Smallville citizen to “go inside, it’s not safe” which is really nice and all, but inside isn’t really all that safe, either, when super-powered beings are throwing trains at each other.

Earlier in the movie we see a flashback to Clark saving a bus-full of his classmates. It’s the beginning of the hero, right? He knows he can save them, so he does. But in the process, people see him do it and it’s trouble and leads to his dad saying “I dunno if maybe you shouldn’t save everybody.” His dad’s point is “the greater, longer good is you working in as secret as possible” not “hey, let a bunch of people die,” but my point is that Clark could’ve saved that bus-full in a slightly different way and none of that would have been an issue. If he’d moved to either side of the back of the bus, for instance. No one would’ve seen him pushing the bus. Or if he’d gone under the bus and lifted it that way. But he was new to it, see? He was moving by instinct, so he was giving thought to saving people without thinking about saving people while remaining secret.

All that applies to him killing, too. He’s new to this, he doesn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t want to do it (witness his anguished cry), but he doesn’t know what else to do. It doesn’t absolve him from blame (though, honestly, that dude was a jerk and had it coming), but it becomes more understandable, at least to me.

I don’t know how they’ll handle it in the next movie, but pictures have surfaced of people with signs protesting the damage Superman caused. I suspect that after the battle was won, Superman considered what had happened and in the future becomes the Superman we know, the Superman that protects others even as he’s fighting for his life. Even the tag scene where he destroys the military drone shows that he’s become more mindful already. They could do some interesting things with it, especially with Batman and Wonder Woman as contrasts, so I really hope they get it right.


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