Don’t read this unless you already saw Man of Steel. This is a commentary on the long-lasting ramifications of the end battle in Man of Steel.
I said it after I saw The Avengers and I’ll say it again- destruction climax scenes are a crutch to replace real storytelling. The fight sequence at the end of Man of Steel was equivalent to a half-dozen 9/11’s, and yet in the last scene Kent walked into a seemingly undamaged Daily Planet. Uh, no. that’s bad storytelling. Unless he flew around the world backward or something… wait, wrong Superman.
According to Watson Technical Consulting, “The impact would be similar to a nuclear explosion without the lingering radiation.” (The study was done for Buzzfeed. Follow this link http://www.buzzfeed.com/jordanzakarin/man-of-steel-destruction-death-analysis to see the original article and http://hurricane.methaz.org/tracking/mos_oped.pdf to see the Watson report, which was cleverly written in the form of a Perry White Daily Planet editorial).
Watson estimated if the climactic fight destruction happened in the real world 129,000 people would have been confirmed dead, nearly a million would have been injured and 250,000 would be missing. There would have been 700 billion dollars worth of physical damage which would be close to a couple of trillion dollars figuring in clean-up and economic impact. Look at those numbers again. 129,000 dead, a quarter of a million people missing and a million injured people in need of medical care. How many moviegoers considered the consequences of the destruction as the scene unfolded before them?
As with The Avengers, the final battle was the only part of the movie which I truly disliked because I thought it was completely excessive and unnecessarily over the top. I’m embarrassed to say I loved both movies in spite of this aspect, but I’m sick of filmmakers seeming to use 9/11 as inspiration for scenes of catastrophic destruction. Besides, they already destroyed an entire planet and every living creature on it (which was completely necessary to the plot and beautifully done). Did they have to destroy Metropolis as well?
If you’ll remember, on 9/11 we were wishing Superman was real because maybe he could have done something to PREVENT the buildings from collapsing and saved the lives of thousands of people. Never in a million years would we have thought this mild-mannered person (the same one who walks away from a bar fight with a trucker earlier in the film so he could passive-aggressively destroy the trucker’s rig in a spectacular way) would be the cause of such death and destruction. The man from earlier in the film would have stepped back and figured some other way to defeat Zod, or he would have led him away from the city.
I know I’m not the only person who’s disturbed by excessive destruction in films, because Buzzfeed’s article on the Watson study has gone viral and spawned dozens of blog posts and news features. Other people think the way I do, yet I’m sure there were more viewers who blindly enjoyed the spectacle and pushed the element of human suffering out of their minds as they watched. People are numbed to the real-world consequences of such destruction.
Yes, General Zod was trying to annihilate the human race. There had to be some loss of life, I understand. All they needed were a couple of major explosions and a couple of high-rise building collapses. (Thankfully, one of the buildings they destroyed in Man of Steel was a construction site, which set-up one of the funniest comedic bits I ever saw in any action film). Have that, then have Colonel Hardy crash into the World Engine and that would be enough to make a big splashy ending. Oh, and SHOW MORE PEOPLE EVACUATING THE BUILDINGS AND THROW IN A LINE OR TWO ABOUT HOW THE CITY IS BEING EVACUATED. You want to break lots of stuff? Fine. Just get the people out. They didn’t have to make the city look like Nagasaki with a death toll to match.
A great deal of my dismay over this film vs The Avengers is the character of Superman. Yes, this Clark Kent was a welcome departure from the emotionally-stable Boy Scout Supermans of Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh. I loved the idea of his superpowers creating a learning disability and I was glad to see they did away with the seemingly idyllic Smallville upbringing to show Clark suffering as a result of the difficulty of being different. I liked Clark’s character, but he is still Superman and in the end he destroyed Zod before he could incinerate innocent bystanders.
So use that. Let Clark see people die when the gas pump explodes; let him know he caused their deaths. Let him catch two people falling from a burning 50 story building while a third slips from his grasp. Make his confrontation with Zod the worst day of his life (I think they tried to do that, but I believe they fell short). The conflict would have made his battle with Zod more interesting; instead it was a boring 15 minute smashfest. Flashy 15-minute battle sequences are meaningless. Tell the story.