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Man Of Steel: Why Superman Is The Worst Superhero Ever

Just a quick note to start with: this is NOT a review of Man Of Steel, because every other bugger has reviewed it already. This is a discussion of a couple of the main themes of the movie – namely, blowing shit up – and as such contains some spoilers. Don’t read this if you’re one of the three people alive who hasn’t seen Man Of Steel yet!


So, on the next edition of The Highlight Reel (which airs on Monday over on, as ever), I review what is arguably the most anticipated movie of the summer so far, Man Of Steel. I won’t be doing that here, because literally every other blogger on this site has also done it (probably), so instead, I thought I’d take different approach. While I didn’t come out of the film hating it like many have done (in fact I actually thought it was decent, but not much more than that), there was one overriding thought that kept surfacing in my brains whenever I thought about this movie, like a series of farts in a bathtub: Superman fucking sucks.I don’t mean as a character (although he does, and trying to make the archetypal superhero interesting is one of many areas where this movie fails). I mean as a hero. As a good guy. As the kind of guy who, say, doesn’t haphazardly lay waste to a city while fighting the bad guy. I mean, what the hell, Supes? Isn’t the whole point of Superman that he is the best of us – an alien force moulded by the best and kindest of humanity into a perfect being who values every single human life? And here he is, wiping out AN ENTIRE GODDAMN CITY in a brutal bout of fisticuffs with Zod. It looks spectacular when Superman smacks Zod through an entire city block, to be sure (something which happens several hundred times throughout this films’ 2-hour-and-change running time), but surely that’s a level of collateral that Superman just wouldn’t be willing to take. Now, I know in a fight with Zod, when the fate of the entire planet is at stake, you might expect some chaos to ensue. You gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette, and all that. Or, more accurately, you gotta break a few eggs to save a few billion other eggs currently cacking themselves in fear of Zod’s giant gravity drill doodad. But come on. In the original films, Superman would fly about catching debris as it fell to protect a handful of people, often putting himself in harms’ way to do so. I know the chaotic action is increased a bajillionfold in this movie, but that’s still no excuse for turning Superman into the spandex-clad Tazmanian Devil. He simply does not give a shit in this movie, jackhammering through buildings in his pursuit of Zod, hurling trains, piledriving him into gas stations. It makes for a spectacular fight, but it’s not very heroic. Even Frank Millers’ geriatric psychopath Batman didn’t go this far, and that was Frank “Mr. Sensitive” Miller! The man who made Batman call Robin retarded wouldn’t go as far as you did! Rethink your movie!

Even Zod is appalled at Supes’ disregard for human life.

What confuses matters even more is the screwy character arc that Supes goes through in this movie. At first, I felt like he didn’t even have one, like he was the same character at the end of the movie that he is at the beginning. Literally every other character in the movie is, apart from Zod, and I don’t think being dead qualifies as character development. Although if it does, then Paolo and Nikki from Lost are actually far more complex characters than I ever gave them credit for. But no, Supes actually does have a character arc. He just has it backwards. At the start of the movie, he actually does travel the world, using his powers for good, saving people from impossible situations that were unforseeable and otherwise unpreventable. Then we flash back to his dad telling him not to use his powers for good because it scares people, and he inexplicably decides to sacrifice his own life to make his point (is it good parenting to leave your wife a widow just to teach your adult son a lesson?), which is fine, I mean, I kinda see his point even though it’s moronic, but it seems like Superman goes entirely the other way with it. I’m sure this was unintentional, and in the chronology of the movie it’s not quite true because of the random nature of the flashbacks, but narratively speaking, after this scene, Superman saves precisely no one. Yeah, a lesson well learned there, guys. Is being a good listener a superpower?

Actually, that’s not quite true. He does go out of his way to save one person. It’s Lois Lane, of course! Yaaay! You know how Meatloaf would do anything for love, but he won’t do that? Superman does ‘that’ several times in this movie. Apparently he cares enough about his fathers’ opinions right up until the point where it stops him from getting sex, so there is at least some basis in reality on display here. Anyway, the chemistry between the pair is entirely non-existant, but apparently if you just follow your man around for a bit he’ll soon fall for you. The pair even share a passionate kiss in the ruins of Metropolis, and crack a little joke about it. The kiss that is, not the ruin of Metropolis, although they might as well be doing that with this display of callous affection. Guys, literally thousands of people have died. Is this really the time? This ends with the big fight between Supes and Zod, in which even more of the city is destroyed, up until Superman snaps Zod’s neck. Hey, that was really badass, until you remember that SUPERMAN DOESN’T KILL PEOPLE. EVER. That he was forced into doing so might have been an interesting plot point, and a sign that they were to do something different with the character, but after a brief scream (he opts for the teary-eyed scream rather than the tried-and-true “NOOOOOOOOO” to the heavens), he seems pretty much over it. Come on, man. You just brutally murdered the last of your kind. If I dropped a sandwich I’d mourn it for longer than that. Granted, you were forced into it (if you can call trying to save a family who could easily run away from Zod’s eye beams, but who inexplicably refuse to do so, much like that security guard who gets crushed by the steamroller in Austin Powers being ‘forced’), but you still had to kill a guy. I guess after you indirectly kill thousands of innocents by not really caring which skyscrapers you flatten, you just become desensitised to the whole thing. He probably doesn’t even need a tub of ice cream to get over it. The bastard.

“Hey there beautiful, destroyed any good skyscrapers lately?”

So, to sum up: Superman levels a city, cares nothing for its inhabitants, doesn’t even try to save them after he smashes up their office/apartment/restaurant/whatever, because he’s ether too busy single-mindedly beating up Zod who he has no compunction about killing anyway so why didn’t he just do it in the first place, or because he’s trying to get Lois Lane horizontal. Whattaguy. They should call it Dick Of Steel. In fact, scratch that, because I think I already saw a film on the internet with that title. That film was quite different.


It had more character development, for one thing.

2 responses to “Man Of Steel: Why Superman Is The Worst Superhero Ever

  1. This…………is an epic post.
    As much as I liked the new film I couldn’t help but agree with everything you’re saying here.

    • Thanks! I know it probably comes across like I hated it, but I really didn’t. I was however disappointed that it was merely OK, when I was hyped for it to be so much more. I was entertained while watching it, but I couldn’t help thinking of all the problems that I typed above. I guess my brain goes to weird places sometimes.

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