Why Is Superman Snapping Necks?

“It’s a credible Superman for now. But I’m not sure about the killing thing. I don’t want to sound like some fuddy-duddy Silver Age apologist but I’ve noticed a lot of people recently saying Batman should kill the Joker and, yeah, Superman should kill, he should make the tough moral decisions we all have to make every day. Why would we want our super­heroes to do that?”

Grant Morrison,  comic book writer on  All Star Superman series.

!!!Contains Spoilers for Man Of Steel (2012)!!!
Looking back to 2005 when ‘Batman Begins’ first thrilled audiences, you can see that the superhero genre was starting to get a little tired and stale. At the time Fox was leading the charge with their interpretation - I'm being kind - of 'Fantastic Four', a movie with in your face 'comicbookness' and colourful over the top heroes. Fox had previously given us the first truly successful superhero team up in 'X-Men', only to later undo all their good work with a plethora of abysmal adaptations, such as the infamously terrible 'Daredevil'. A movie that continues to scar everyone involved, including newly christened Batman, Ben Affleck. So in this time of uncertain hero's, Christopher Nolan's dark and gritty realist take on The Batman was just what the genre needed. You see in 'Nolanverse' everything had to have a purpose and plausibility, from the costume, to his array of high tech gadgets and vehicles, the caped crusader was now firmly rooted in reality, well within the context of a billionaire who dresses like a bat to fight crime.
While I freely admit to loving the entire 'Dark Knight' trilogy, the question remains: Did Nolan ever truly make a 'Batman' movie? There is an interesting forum that shows the overall percentage of Batman screen time through all the movies, with the highest ranking being 'Batman' 89 at 22%. If you look at Nolan's movies, the screen time for The Dark knight begins to wane from 17% in 'Begins' to only 13% in 'Rises'. You see Nolan freely admits to never being that interested in The Batman, it was the man inside the cowl that mattered to him. In his movies Bruce Wayne was always placed front and center, whether that was a good thing or not is debatable. This is as much down to the after effects of the outlandish, toy commercial nonsense of the Joel Schumacher 'Bat' flicks as anything. Movies that favoured cheap gags and outrageously hammy villains over character development or story telling. So admittedly it did seem logical that if you were to reboot Batman, you needed to go darker, much darker in fact.

Looking at the opposite end of the comic book movie scale, away from the drained colour of DC adaptations, to the light, bright adherence and respect to costume and character we have Marvel. Whatever story and concept problems can be slung at them and their MCU, you can’t take away their dedication to presenting the hero as close to comic source as possible. Had 'The Avengers' been like the 'X-Men' dressed In combat styled leather or like bats in thick rubber it would have taken greatly form the spectacle of seeing these characters on the big screen together for the first time. Supposedly the next film, the as yet untitled 'Batman/Superman', Bat's costume will adhere more to the original design. Thanks to Marvel we can now enter a new age of super hero films that are finally starting to move away from gritty and more towards the true representation of these costumed heroes.
To me 'Man Of Steel' belongs more to the "Ashamed Superhero" as I call it genre, rather than the reviling characters in the MCU, such as the showboating 'Iron Man'. If Nolan is to continue to godfather the next series of DC movies, will we forever be stuck with depressed hero's who scream and suffer their way through saving the world. As bold and refreshing as the 'Dark Knight' trilogy was, I really don’t know if I can sit through a scarred broken Batman for three more films or a Superman with blood on his hands. Now I’m not a massive superman fan, he's far too bland and clean for me, and his cast of villains are far too limited and samey, but making the decision to darken him up with murder might just be a step too far. As far as Nolan went with his 'Bat' flicks, he never resorted to murder, he may have let people die through choice, but still he never psychically flat out killed someone on camera. So the next movie will supposedly have the darkness of Batman against the clean cut lightness of Superman, as it has always been in the comics. Except now Superman is a goddamn murder, whether it was justified or not is irrelevant. So how can they make this movie a clash of personalities between the morals of Superman and the extremes of Batman when Superman has gone further than The Dark Knight? Unless the next movie presents Batman as a stone cold pistol carrying vigilante. I hope not!

Of the details that have been released so far none of them signal smart or well informed choices that fit with their comic counterparts. Ben Affleck as Batman, "Sheesh Okay we’ll see", Mark Zuckerberg as Lex Luther - "Cocaine is a hell of a drug" - and Gal Gadot as the statuesque Amazon Wonder Woman, riiighhht!! It’s like they are deliberately trying to distance themselves from any preconceived notion of character or context. I suppose they figure, "People have read the comics version let’s give them something new". This is akin to the farce that is the New 52 DC reboot, which looks frankly horrible. So you have DC who wants to reboot, redesign constantly, and a studio trying to cash in on the combined connected universe of Marvel, as fast as they can. I had hoped with Snyder's love for the genre and his faithfulness with 'Watchmen' that we might have gotten something more in line with the books, but save for the wild opening on Kryptonian the rest of 'Man Of Steel' plays it very safe, and very serious. This could be down to writer Goyer as much as Snyder, but it's confirmed that Snyder strongly agreed in the murder of Zod. Don’t get me wrong, I did like the movie for what it was, it just clearly wasn’t a Superman movie. Like Nolan’s crime heavy Michael Mann influenced trilogy, Snyder's Superman has more in common with Michael Bay's 'Transformers' - mass destruction - or the 'Star Trek' reboot - hello lens flares - than it does with the look and tone of a Superman comic.
Just look at the mass destruction of Smallville and Metropolis in 'Man Of Steel', this Superman doesn’t seem too concerned as pretty much the whole city crumbles around him. Sure his brawls with Zod and his minions looks cool, but would Superman really let so much destruction happen around him, the comic Superman would consider the battle already lost with the amount of deaths his fisticuffs have ensured. This level of destruction feels very much tacked on, like studio inference, you can almost hear the suits saying, "We need it bigger, more destruction, haven't you seen 'Transformers' 3", "More explosions, MORE!!". Don’t get me wrong I like big loud ball shaking explosions as much as the next guy, but this isn’t 'Independence' 2 it’s fucking 'Superman', could he not have say lured Zod and the villains away, somewhere remote outside the heavily populated areas. Well what you can expect from a Kal-El that was raised by the coldest Pa Kent to ever grace the screen. Kevin Costner's performance as Jonathon Kent is that of  menacing, foreboding, heavy furrowed parental figure, that condones death as a means to hide Clark's true powers. Take the moment after the bus crash and his icy words to a young Clark, whose just asked his father "What was I supposed to do? Just let them die?", to which he coldly replies "Maybe". What "Maybe", your raising the most powerful kid on the planet and you’re already asking him to watch others die, to not intervene, to just let death happen, no wonder he didn’t hesitate to finish Zod off with that infamous snap.

'Man of Steel' certainly isn’t the train wreck or mishandled disaster it’s being made out to be, its greatest sin is that it doesn’t understand the characters it’s trying to portray. The question remains should live action movies adhere to their source material, or is it okay to forge new paths and differ from accepted preconceptions? All I know is that for me Superman is meant to be symbol, a beacon of hope, the ideal in a crazy world. I could live with a murdering 'Batman', but it’s pretty hard to swallow a rage filled neck snapping Kal-El. With the next instalment nearing it remains to be seen, if Snyder and Goyer can atone for this misstep and finally give us a truer representation of Superman, I for one can’t wait to see how it turns out.

"I was so happy that they made another Superman movie!" Seinfeld writes. "I'm really reluctant to be critical of it in any way. But I thought the glossing over of the figuring out a secret identity and why he felt he needed one was a huge missed opportunity for that character, and one of the most interesting things about Superman is the whole secret identity. So to me it was too much action / violence and not enough character study."

Jerry Seinfeld, comedian