"Protect," My Ass: The Man of Steel Destroys More Than He Saves, According to Damage Consultants
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"Protect," My Ass: The Man of Steel Destroys More Than He Saves, According to Damage Consultants

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | June 18, 2013 | Comments ()


In Steven Lloyd Wilson's piece on Overthinking Superman this morning, he blockquoted a crucial and related issue that comic-book writer Mark Waid had with Man of Steel:

The essential part of Superman that got lost in MAN OF STEEL, the fundamental break in trust between the movie and the audience, is that we don't just want Superman to save us; we want him to protect us. He was okay at the former, but really, really lousy at the latter. Once he puts on that suit, everyone he bothers to help along the way is pretty much an afterthought, a fly ball he might as well shag since he's flying past anyway, so what the hell.

That concern is probably as much a movie studio's need to destroy a city for box-office glory as it was Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan's vision, but the point is well taken, especially once you consider just how much damage was done in Man of Steel. Buzzfeed worked with Watson Technical Consulting to work out a damage assessment based on the havoc wreaked in Man of Steel, and it's staggering.

From Vulture:

After running simulations on Manhattan and Chicago, they got a sense of what the damage would've been. WTC estimates 129,000 people would've been killed, over 250,000 left missing, and almost a million injured. In total, WTC estimates the physical damage to be about $700 billion (compared to, for example, the $55 billion 9/11 caused).

On the one hand, from a purely cinematic perspective, Waid's quibble seems kind of petty -- it was a wildly entertaining sequence, after all --, but when you consider that Superman's duty is, indeed, "to protect" and you read about these simulated damage assessments, I get exactly what he means. In order to one-up The Avengers and destroy a city to an even bigger way, Snyder apparently has messed with one of the fundamental principles of Superman.

But then again, what's $700 billion compared the all of humanity?

(Source: Buzzfeed via Vulture)

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • ferryman

    Superman -vs- The Law of Unintended Consequences.

  • BlackRabbit

    I would have loved, just to make Zod even evil-er and to kill the "he should have taken the fight out of the city" argument:

    Superman: "Zod, this is between the two of us. Leave the people alone!" He starts flying away.

    Zod: "Naaah." Heat-zaps a crowd.

  • Palaeologos

    Superman and his villains leveling Metropolis on the regular has been a staple of the comic and its adaptations for as long as it's been around, which has always been a major beef of mine with the series.

  • Captain D

    Wasn't this the plot of The Incredibles? Nothing to see here...

  • Some Guy

    After the movie I wondered why Superman, after destroying the device intended to destroy Earth, didn't take his fight with Zod out of the populated city and towards somewhere a little more remote. Like Kansas. Or the moon. Or Antarctica. Somewhere. Anywhere.

  • richkime

    Zod was literally in the process of destroying THE ENTIRE EARTH, which Superman stopped. Good grief. What was he supposed to do? Challenge Zod to a duel? Stupid critique.

  • jon29

    First of all, the fight destroys most of one city and saves the entire world. So the argument in the headline is nonsense.

    Putting that aside, what choice was there for Superman? The Kryptonians attacked Metropolis, not the Sahara.

  • Green_Eggs_and_Hamster

    Lure them away from the city and the civilians ala Christopher Reeds Superman.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Wouldn't have worked. They were there to end as many lives as possible (including his, eventually). How would he have lured them away? With what, snacks? Superman would have flown away and they'd have just gone on wrecking the city until he came back.

  • BlackRabbit

    Hostess Fruit Pies!

  • I've always figured any city with a super hero has the absolute worst insurance rates.

  • luthien26

    I felt especially bad for Smallville. You just know 75% of that town is going to be unemployed for months!

  • Except everyone in the funeral industry, apparently.
    And construction.

  • Or you have to pay extra for 'act of hero' insurance, kind of like flood insurance.

  • JJ

    I'm assuming that "acts of Aquaman" would be covered under flood insurance already.

  • $6950553

    In fairness, Snyder decided on this final set-piece after trying to estimate how much damage a Jesus vs Zod battle would have done and used that as a rough guide.

  • LexieW

    I noticed this when watching the superman cartoon from the 90's. My justification? It's good for GDP. Supes is out there helping create jobs in every sector.

  • Boo_Radley

    In the world of comics, cities exist to be destroyed by super hero fistfights.

  • luthien26

    I will preface this by saying I liked "Man of Steel" and I thought Henry Cavill did an amazing job as Superman/Clark/Kal-El. That being said, the destruction at the end of the movie was gratuitous, and Superman himself is a big part of it. The alien machines over Metropolis and the Indian Ocean - not his fault. But his decision to engage Zod and crew right in the middle of two towns is just wrong-headed, especially when he's throwing his opponents through buildings with people inside them.

    At least in The Avengers we see Captain America actively trying to get civilians to safety (telling the cops the best way to evacuate people, even huddling with the civilians for a point, trying to protect them). In Thor we see the Asgardians trying to get people away, and Thor directly approaches The Destroyer/Loki and tries to plead that the quarrel isn't with the townspeople, it's with him. The only effort we see in Man of Steel is Superman telling people in Smallville to get inside... then slamming his enemies through buildings. I'm not saying it's possible for Superman to avoid all collateral damage, but watching him punch Zod through buildings with thousands of people inside them cheapens the impact of him saving the family by killing Zod at the end. Why are they so important, when thousands of other people have already died?

  • Blake

    What about the Avengers? They pretty much destroyed whatever city that movie took place in. But I guess they get a free pass because it's Marvel and not DC.

  • Fredo

    The only city that the Avengers "destroy" is NYC since that's where the portal is. Oh and I guess you can add the underground S.H.I.E.L.D. base that gets buried at the start.

    To the greater point, Marvel's heroes have been shown leveling towns and cities before. The Hulk and the Abomination level Harlem. Thor and the Destroyer nearly level a small New Mexico town. Those are the Marvel heroes nearest in power level to Superman.

    But even those destructions pale in comparison to what Man of Steel brings. Dustin is right: they tried to one-up The Avengers and ended up with something that fundamentally shifts this character. Because while the Avengers are superheroes, they don't carry the gravitas that Superman does.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    But I guess they get a free pass because it's Marvel and not DC.

    What the hell?

  • Blake

    Various Marvel Superheros have been destroying cities for the last 2 decades yet only because its DC's Superman does this come up.

    How much damage did Iron Man do earlier this summer? No one bothered to point that out.

  • calliope1975

    There were several articles about the damage The Avengers would have caused. A quick Google search shows it to be $160 billion. http://www.hollywoodreporter.c...

    I haven't seen anything about IM3 though.

  • God Of Bal-Sagoth

    Give the guy some credit - at least he's doing it in the interest of saving the planet. Batman pretty much demolishes Gotham City and trashes most of the GPD's squad cars in Batman Begins just so he can save Katie fucking Holmes.

  • DMA

    Agreed. He does the same in the Dark Knight--he shoots at a glass door to drive his Batpod through it, and I kept thinking about those bullets hitting bystanders. Bothered me to no end.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    That was the most annoying thing about that movie to me. I had no problem thinking that the law would be after the Batman.

  • NateMan

    Yeah, there's no way a cop or two didn't get killed in that chase. Or a citizen who slammed into the back of a pile-up.

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