Beard: A Man of Steel for all seasons?Written by Jim Beard | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The ending of the new “Man of Steel” film has provided the comics industry with its latest controversy, provoking commentary from seasoned veterans and casual fans alike. Central to the discussion is what exactly can be tolerated in the evolution of the 75-year-old Superman character and if a footnote in that long history is proper fodder for a major plot twist in the newly released film.
SPOILERS: Superman’s execution of his film opponent, the Kryptonian General Zod, is not the first time the Man of Steel’s opted for the final solution in his neverending battle for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Early on, after his 1938 debut, the superhero sometimes resorted to extreme means in dealing with criminals, including allowing them to come to bitter ends, i.e., die. A 1988 issue of Superman even told of a time when he executed Zod and his cronies in an alternate universe by exposing them to a lethal dose of kryptonite.
Though that seems to have been an inspiration for Warner Bros.’ “Man of Steel,” the comic book Superman embarked on a yearlong odyssey of grief and penance after the act, unlike his movie counterpart whose angst over the dirty deed was brief and soon forgotten.
Here at home, some comic fans have had strong negative reactions to what they see as indelible blood on the hands of the beloved, iconic figure.
Ed Katschke, manager of Monarch Cards & Comics, does not see actor Henry Cavill’s Superman as an evolution, but rather a devolution. “Superman is about saving lives, not taking them.”
“In Alan Moore’s seminal 1986 tale, ‘Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow,’ Superman says that, ‘Nobody has the right to kill … not Superman … especially not Superman.’ At the end of this film, Superman not only murders Zod, but essentially commits genocide against his own race,” Katschke said. “Naysayers may point out his grief over the action or the necessity of it, but the fact remains that there should have been a dozen different ways for Superman to resolve that stalemate without twisting Zod’s head off. Superman is the most powerful hero of the DC Universe and, as a result, shouldn’t have to stoop to killing his opponents. He’s powerful and smart enough to always find a better solution and the Superman that I grew up with would have.”