Open Forum Friday: Should Superman Be Able to Kill?


Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel doesn’t hit DVD and Blu-ray until November, but it is already sparking renewed discussion after screenwriter David Goyer gave a talk this week at the BAFTA and British Film Institute Screenwriters’ Lecture Series, where he addressed one of the more controversial elements of the movie. In order to avoid direct spoilers, I won’t go into detail other than to say that it involves Superman’s moral code and the fact that in the comics he has never purposely taken another being’s life (with a few exceptions). Goyer says that writers “can’t rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film,” but clearly plenty of comic book fans would beg to differ.

One of the main problems that Zack Snyder set out to fix with Man of Steel is the fact Superman has insane powers but always avoids using them at all costs. He is often referred to as a “big blue boy scout” and this limitation can make him come across as a boring character to mainstream audiences. When it comes to movies based on existing source material, fans often expect the movies to strictly adhere to canon, but unfortunately, this does not always result in the best story. The risk is that by diverging, the very essence of the character can sometimes gets lost in the process. What do you think? Should Superman always stick to his established moral code or is it more interesting to challenge that? How did you feel about the widespread destruction and the end of Man of Steel? Do you trust Zack Snyder and David Goyer to be true to the character moving forward? Give us your thoughts here on Open Forum Friday.

Warning: Further discussion in the comments may contain spoilers for Man of Steel.

  • Theo

    I’m referring to “The Death of Superman” story… the one where Superman and Doomsday literally beat each other to death, in the middle of Metropolis….Not that SUPERMAN/DOOMSDAY sequel. That whole story was a huge brawl, with collateral damage similar to MoS. In that particular story, there’s not much of a difference when it comes to how Superman had to do what he had to do. In The Death of Superman, Kal-El didn’t have a whole lot of options as to how to stop Doomsday…. same as with Zod…. Mind you, this was his first day trying to save the world. Gotta cut the S Man so slack.
    Hell I don’t remember fans givin Batman a hard for killing as many thugs and clowns, as he did in Tim Burton’s Batman films. Batman was straight up settin a bad example of heroism in those…. showing that it’s ok to kill bad guys…. just as long as you can wear a cape and get away with it. …..And in those killer scenes with Batman, there were other choices that could have been made besides murder.
    So it was Supe’s first mistake, on his first day on the job… but guess what…. he still saved the world

  • Theo

    LOL…. I’m sure there were times when I wanted to, especially after watching Poltergeist, during my childhood. But I always thought that clown torching scene was pretty brutal for Batman to pull… almost reminded me of something the Punisher would have done. But he wasn’t the Punisher…. He was Tim Burton’s Batman. If you think Zack Snyder’s take on Superman is flawed, then just imagine how Tim Burton’s take on Superman would have been; had he gone through with his Death of Superman movie (Starring Nick Cage as the Man of Steel)

  • Theo

    Batman Killed criminals in the Tim Burton films. He torched a clown with the Batmobile’s booster and stuffed a full pack of dynamite in the pants of one of the Penguin’s thugs, before tossing him down a dark flight of stairs. Batman was damn near like Rorschach in those films.

    He didn’t let anyone die…. those people were “casualties of war”… and don’t forget… he’s not Superman yet…. not in this film…. which is probably why the film was just called, Man of Steel.

  • Theo

    I agree that Sucker Punch was Snyder’s baby… a story he just had to put on the big screen. But it just backfired. I’ll be honest and say that I’m one of the few who actually enjoyed Sucker Punch. I always saw it as a sorta steam punk fantasy with the nostalgia of Disney’s Return To Oz, Moulin Rouge, and the Never Ending Story. I totally got what Snyder was doing… I’m just sad that it bombed. I could definitely see it as a cult classic, years down the road. 1939’s The wizard of Oz bombed in theaters as well. It didn’t become a well known classic until it was on the tele.

    But anyway…. I’m glad MoS turned out the way it did. Seeing how much controversy there is about this film (good & bad), is more than enough proof that Snyder did something right. If that weren’t true people wouldn’t still be talking about there thoughts on this film. It would have been forgotten, like the movie Total Recall (2012) or Battlefield Earth.

    I just don’t think a lot of film goers give Snyder enough credit for the majority of his films… I mean who would have thought, the guy who directed Dawn of the Dead would have been making a Superman movie? I think he’s a great visual artist…. and he’s gonna do great working with another great film artist/ seasoned actor.

  • Captain Fram

    My issue: After destroying a sizable chunk of the city during his Dragonball Z fight with Zod, killing hundreds, maybe thousands of people in the process, Superman is so fearful for this ONE family to finally snap Zod’s neck. It’s meant to make us feel like he’s taking on the burden of murder to save these humans, but the fact that he’d just been knocking down buildings filled with people for the past 15 minutes takes away any of the drama that scene could have had.

    Let me propose a slightly different take on the city fight. Imagine instead of fighting Supes, Zod flies around the city, smashing through buildings, throwing cars around, targeting PEOPLE. Supes, rather than punching him around and causing crazy damage, spends the entire scene CHASING Zod and saving as many people as he can – catching buildings, shielding people from debris, etc.

    He finally catches up to Zod, then the scene plays out exactly as in Man of Steel from there. Suddenly, there is real drama that this one family is in direct danger that Superman can prevent, but he must take a life to do so.

  • “Krypton had it’s chance!” Clark put an entire SPECIES to its end close to the end of the film. Zod would just be the last nail in the coffin. And he was obviously crushed by the acts as well. We will have to see how he recovers from this trauma in the next film.

  • Until Braniac shows up. ;)

  • Jr

    He should be ALLOWED to but he shouldn’t. Just like Batman. It’s the choice they make with the power they have that is the important part of their characters in this case.

  • Darth_Siskel

    Watch the Donner movies again.
    He crushed Zod’s hand
    Picked him up & threw him into a seamingly bottomless chasm
    Superman does kill, in the movie and comics. Don’t have time to point to links right now but,he does.

  • ECONOMYpolitica

    This Last Son of Krypton is basically Darkseid, killing the only other surviving Kryptonians to assume dominance over earth. He displays his control by taking out the US government’s drone soon after. Could this be another evil Superman storyline? Will he have a split identity in 2? is that why the Clark identity was leftist of MOS? Will we see a re-envisioned Clark v Supes junkyard brawl in SUPERMANBATMAN? Will this be a new take on SUPERMAN III? How does Batman fit into that? Will he be protecting Clark Kent from a Superman identity that is really the same person with an objective of exerting control and carrying on the legacy of Krypton. Will they play up the MAN OF STEEL mythology and adapt elements from SUPERMAN REX where Superman ruled the world with an army of Superman Robots? That would make a great visual. Superman is after all a super genius and this would be a great way to show that in his battle with a Dark Knight who would be forced into stealth mode. Superman can rebuild the city all by himself. He’s done it before in Adventures #520 and other places. He’s a farmboy. He lays bricks and all that stuff in about two seconds. But he gets overworked and builds his robot army and red kryptonite and a being with cosmic powers known as Dominus influences him with visions of nuclear meltdowns. He must always be there to avert any disaster. No time for sleep. No time for Lois. Then he really has to go back to his Kryptonian cult to master the ancient technique of Torquasm Vo to take down Dominus on the astral plane.

  • Theo

    There’s no proof that hundreds or thousands of people were killed because of “Superman”. I didn’t see civilians getting killed in that last fight. For all we know the majority of buildings still standing could have already been evacuated, during the terraforming process; before Kal-El took it out. It’s not like there were people still in the buildings, working at there job, while 2 alien gods are brawling each other, all over the city. I wonder how many civilians got killed during the invasion in Avengers? I mean there were literally hundreds of those alien soldiers, each carrying a gun, and riding hover crafts with guns, and shooting randomly at innocent people. Don’t tell me that all of those aliens were bad aimers, and missed every civilian they shot at or tried to detonate. We truly won’t know what all the collateral damage is until Batman V.S. Superman comes out. All we do know is that The Man of Steel saved an entire planet and civilization in this film, but is still being unappreciated for not “helping a cat out of a tree.” Mind you, he’s not yet the “Superman” we all know yet. It was only his first day trying to be a hero. Gotta cut the dude some slack and be patient.


    Watch superman2 and tell me you had a problem zod dying then at the hands of a smiling superman
    people are hypocritical
    and have no basis for their argument
    they fear a DC universe
    kinda pathetic really

  • PlanBFromOuterSpace

    I attribute this confusion to the geography of the whole sequence being sloppy as shit, as that whole final act has people just appearing or disappearing as the script seems fit as it cuts between the various battles and shenanigans. Maybe a re-watch would straighten some things out or prove me wrong, but when Supes and Zod go into their final fight after being outside the city or on a beach or something (I forget which, but it looked like they were clear of things), they go flying off again to somewhere else, right? And then they come down to the train station, wherever that was, and Lois is pretty much right there. Wherever they took off to, it was within 2 minutes walking distance, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, because even if they DID land nearby, Lois seemed to already have an idea of where they’d end up. Weird.

  • Jason.

    I have written a movie. They could have made this a lot easier to swallow with an additional 3 lines of dialogue. It was a huge stretch, and it didn’t work

  • horse saves

    ..cuz the movie is for everybody. the general idea about this guy is that killing is not his game, if choice allowed.

    in this film, the murdering of zod was gratuitous and totally forced.

    so this superman.. what’s he exactly about, can ya tell me? cuz i sure can’t figure him out. he’s weird. and stupid. and uncool.

  • Bullwinkel

    I loved it. I always thought that Zod needed to die he was a crazy bastard