MAN OF STEEL: Superman Did The Right Thing

I heard again this past weekend how Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL “ruined” Superman because of its ending. “Superman doesn’t kill,” this person said. “EVER!” I agreed, with the caveat that for every rule there is an inevitable exception. A fanboy might complain that he prefers his Superman painted in lighter tones—and I don’t just mean the color palette used for the movie—and this is a legitimate opinion. Some fans enjoy goofy and silly instead of dark and gritty where certain characters are concerned. However, within the context of this particular movie, Snyder put the Man of Steel in a situation where there WAS no other choice. Either Superman killed Zod, or Zod killed innocent people. Under those circumstances, what else could he do? Had he placed his ethical stance against killing above those people’s lives, would he not then have been complicit, to some extent, in their deaths?

It’s a much larger debate than superhero morality. Does perfect pacifism work? Had the world followed Gandhi’s suggestions NOT to violently oppose the Nazis in WW2, would the Nazis not have conquered the world, murdering hundreds of millions of innocents? There are some gripes where MOS is concerned that carry weight. (I for one thought that fight scene with the other two aliens went on too long—and this coming from a guy who loves fight scenes.) But Superman killing Zod isn’t one of them. Superman did the moral, conscientious thing. Ugly as it was, it was necessary.