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.
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?