‘Man of Steel’ Controversy: Does Superman Go Too Far?
Superman, handcuffed in 'Man of Steel' (Photo: Warner Bros.)
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the new Superman flick "Man of Steel," but plan to, you may want to leave this Burning Q page right now. It’s spoiler-tastic!
Still here? OK, consider yourself warned.
Superman violently kills General Zod in Man of Steel?!?!?! WTF??? I thought that Superman was a non-killer. Is the older, gentler Superman dead forever??? — Y.K.
Superman fans certainly are fearing as much. For what it's worth, Kal-El does feel pretty bad about having to snap that bad guy's neck, and the filmmakers do make an effort to sell us on the idea that superhero feels, at least, at one point, like he has no choice.
But still, you're right. The Superman brand isn't generally associated with the breaking of necks, even evil ones. Heck, even some enemies taunt him about his non-lethal ways (see the animated film "Superman vs. The Elite" or read "Action Comics" No. 775, on which it was based).
(Photo: DC Comics)
"During the 'Death of Superman' series in the 1990s, he technically killed [supervillain] Doomsday," notes Siike Donnelly of the iconic Golden Apple Comics store in Los Angeles. "They fought to a standstill, and we were lead to assume they were both dead."
Supes also kills a supervillain in the video game "Injustice," but only after essentially being backed into a corner. The earliest significant killing by Superman dates back to the 1980s, during a storyline when Kal-El used green kryptonite to finish off a particularly nasty version of General Zod in a so-called "Pocket Universe" (translation: the regular General Zod was still alive in the normal DC Universe).
Still: Watching Henry Cavill's deadlier iteration of the classic hero isn’t sitting well with many fans.
(Photo: DC Comics)
"As the credits rolled, I told myself I was upset because Superman doesn't kill. Full-stop, Superman doesn't kill," he writes.