"Why Has Destruction Become the Default?"

Summary

A Marvel screenwriter warns of the danger posed by ever-more-disastrous blockbuster action sequences: "The more destruction you see, the more hollow it feels." Back to Article

Comments

Matt Ritchey

Matt Ritchey

Yup. One of the many reasons I dislike MOS.

Jun 26 - 02:52 PM

Boss Loss

Merle Stanford

And the exact reason why I love it!

Jun 27 - 08:04 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I love all the comedy that's come from it. Have you guys seen the "HEY! Wanna go to the football game with me Lois!" "How, The statdium and the entire team is dead!" Ha ha ha...good stuff.

Jun 27 - 11:38 AM

Jeff Edburg

Jeff Edburg

If used correctly, mass destruction can be a lot of fun to watch. It's when it's mixed with genocide that it bothers me.

Jun 26 - 05:54 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Huh?

Jun 26 - 08:12 PM

Esteban Martinez

Esteban Martinez

You must hate the original Star Wars, then.

Jun 27 - 10:55 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I still remember that poor little Ewok unable to awaken its fried corpse of a friend. I'm Glad Man of steel was heavy on the destruction and extremely light on the violence.

Jun 27 - 11:40 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

The problem isn't just the amount of the destruction, or even the repetitiveness per se, but the total invisibility and anonymity of the human victims of the destruction that alienates audiences, and results in this emotionally hollow feeling. After all of this shocking "terror" (and it is very much a post-9/11 itch that's being scratched), there is no humane catharisis, or acknowledgement of the tragedy of human loss. It's one thing for a Transformers movie to destroy Chicago with no regard for the lives of civilians. But in "MOS", given the traditional themes of Superman's responsibility, and the burden of this, of being the world's savior, it's emotionally a misfire to see him breakdown over the death of a genocidal psychopath like Zod, while we don't see his reaction to those he has sworn to protect. These thousands of dead are not treated like living beings at all, but just fodder, toys, for Snyder's elaborate sandbox. Without weighing the human element, these films devalue life, and that's where this "hollow"ness comes from.

Jun 26 - 06:46 PM

Sputnik99

sputnik 99

Well said.

Jun 26 - 07:15 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

But a more HUMAN superman as the film was portraying Had no F*$#s to give, you know like a regular human being.

Jun 27 - 11:41 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

This "hollowness" is a self-reinforcing loop. I think regular human beings do still give a fuck, but there's a lot of media encouragement not to. Apathy has become fashionable, but I think, and hope ("S", right?), there's a backlash brewing.

Jun 27 - 12:49 PM

Rated NCC-1701

Rated NCC-1701

I'm still waiting for the release of a "Human Victim #2834" action figure. Lawd know they'll never make a "Lois Lane" one.

Jun 27 - 12:18 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

We used burnt Grunts (GI Joe 1st gen) for our 'human victims'.

Jun 27 - 12:50 PM

AccursedArachnid

Accursed Arachnid

Kal-El wasn't mourning Zod. He was mourning the death of his people and that was multiplied exponentially by the fact that he himself was the one who had to end the last of them. He accepted humanity as his people, but much like an immigrant who accepts Americans as their people, you don't just forget where you came from. Plus he had just went against his own moral code and was forced to kill. Pretty sure he could cry out in that situation and it not be for a "genocidal psychopath".

I guess people see what they want to.

Jun 28 - 03:33 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

What I saw was that the Codex (the genetic record of Kryptonians) was still embedded in Superman's bloodcells, which means that Zod was NOT the "last of them", as Superman can still revive and recreate Kryptonians with the Codex whenever he chooses to extract it.

And being forced to kill a single psychopath in order to save the world's billions isn't really much of a choice, morally speaking.

Jun 28 - 04:27 AM

AccursedArachnid

Accursed Arachnid

Do you even know who Superman is? He doesn't kill, ever. To him there must always be a solution that doesn't involve taking a life. And he knows he will never extract the codex. He said so when he told Zod that Krypton had its chance. But he's obviously conflicted about it, wouldn't you be?

Jun 28 - 04:35 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

I know he killed Zod in "Superman II" without any tears.

The point is that he has the Codex in his blood, and has the option of resurrecting his people whenever he chooses to do so. The thousands of lives killed by Zod makes him a poor candidate for sympathy.

Jun 28 - 04:44 AM

Matanuki

Matanuki .

I've been having a problem with the hypocrisy surrounding the issue of Superman killing Zod since the beginning. Too fine a point can't be put on the fact that Superman has killed not only in the Donnor/Reeve's films (so far the most beloved of the Superman films), but (more importantly) in the comic itself. The same comic, mind you, that folks are using as their reference point for the argument that Snyder has somehow betrayed the spirit of the source material. I also think it is off the mark to come down on Man of Steel, an origin story and set up for the franchise, for the destruction apparent. One Superman comic writer made the very good point that, look, this guy's been a superhero for less than 48 hours when the conflict of this film is going down, and this is his very first fight. And against a team of super beings that are superior to him in tactics and experience who, by the way, are the ones who brought the fight to the city in the first place. And we're angry (surprised? Appalled?) that there was massive destruction in a few cities as opposed to the entire planet(Zod's plan, if it had worked)?

I think it is very likely that in the sequel we will see Superman grow as a hero, and (considering the grounded approach the series is taking) see him have to directly deal with the destruction and loss of life, that he will obviously feel responsible for and count as a result of his inexperience and inability to have contained the Kryptonian threat more cleanly.

Jun 28 - 07:43 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I don't mind the killing, it seemed like he should have killed Zod hours before the Metropolis Genocide started to me...the film never even pretends to attempt at epxplaining supermans moral code. His dad pretty much told him that letting people die is no big deal, not when your a God. How this means he would never kill anyone is kind of silly. No my problem is more or less the same as Janson's and thats "whats with all this crappy writing?"

Jun 28 - 10:22 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

@Matanuki - All I'm suggesting, in keeping with the Superman ethos, is that the film should have had a scene at the end where he acknowledges the death tol and human cost of what went down, and registered the burden that he faces as being Earth's protector, and the tragic realization that he simply CANNOT save everybody. That sounds like a lot, but this scene could have been expressed in just a minute or so. These themes run through the Donner films and the comics (that I'm familiar with). I don't think it would have been too much to ask.

Jun 28 - 11:02 AM

Merlin235

Merlin Ambrosius

@Matanuki - you make a good defense for a crappy movie. There are a lot of people who have defended Superman killing Zod, and you're correct to point out this isn't the first time Supes has off'd someone, either in the movies or in the comics. But the reality is most people perceived it to be his first foray into manslaughter, and they weren't expecting it. Most people perceive Superman to have been cut from different cloth, so when he does kill Zod it hits them like a ton of hypocritical bricks. To me the greatness of Superman is he is exactly opposite of me, or you, or anyone defending his right to kill Zod. Because Superman might have what we see as the right to kill Zod, but he is different from us because he isn't supposed to exercise that right. Heck, even the Dark Knight doesn't kill, and he wasn't supposed to be a light for all mankind, or supposed to lead mankind into the light.

Jun 28 - 02:26 PM

Matanuki

Matanuki .

I don't know, Merlin. I see what you're saying, but I don't think it's a question of rights. Its a matter of choice. He is the only one who could stop Zod under the circumstances, and whatever arguments might coast the landing strip of hindsight 20/20, it still was and is readily apparent that the only way to stop Zod was to kill him. Had he not exercised this right or responsibility or burden, however we classify it, it would have resulted in a far worse outcome. And most importantly, the loss of much more innocent life. That's my beef.
@Janson, I agree that a scene like that would have driven the point home. But aren't we a little tired of being bludgeoned over the head with point or theme rather than allowing it to flow organically from the implications of the story? I need to see it a couple more times, but so far, for me, it works. I prefer that being one of the things left open to debate on (like we're doing here) and then be rewarded on when the sequel comes out and addresses all these questions.

Jun 29 - 10:06 AM

Matanuki

Matanuki .

Bradly, I want Accursed, Merlin, and Janson to be witnesses here, that I bet you will feel a lot better about this first installment once the sequel comes out.

Jun 29 - 10:10 AM

Sputnik99

sputnik 99

Well said.

Jun 26 - 07:15 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Entire cities get destroyed and yet in most of these Pg-13 films not a single person is actually shown dying horribly. You just presume they do. What's missing to me is more civilians getting crushed by huge blocks of concrete.

Jun 26 - 08:11 PM

scifimark

scifi mark

They dont even show bodies. Its not that they show graphic death scenes is that they dont show death at all.

Jun 26 - 10:59 PM

Rated NCC-1701

Rated NCC-1701

Makes me wonder how pussified the PG-13 rating really is. Would Man of Steel still retain that rating if Superman grieved Zod's death with a "FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU..!"?

Jun 27 - 12:23 PM

Valmordas

Val Mordas

Huh?

Jun 26 - 08:12 PM

scifimark

scifi mark

They dont even show bodies. Its not that they show graphic death scenes is that they dont show death at all.

Jun 26 - 10:59 PM

Boss Loss

Merle Stanford

And the exact reason why I love it!

Jun 27 - 08:04 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I love all the comedy that's come from it. Have you guys seen the "HEY! Wanna go to the football game with me Lois!" "How, The statdium and the entire team is dead!" Ha ha ha...good stuff.

Jun 27 - 11:38 AM

Esteban Martinez

Esteban Martinez

You must hate the original Star Wars, then.

Jun 27 - 10:55 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I still remember that poor little Ewok unable to awaken its fried corpse of a friend. I'm Glad Man of steel was heavy on the destruction and extremely light on the violence.

Jun 27 - 11:40 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I love all the comedy that's come from it. Have you guys seen the "HEY! Wanna go to the football game with me Lois!" "How, The statdium and the entire team is dead!" Ha ha ha...good stuff.

Jun 27 - 11:38 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

I still remember that poor little Ewok unable to awaken its fried corpse of a friend. I'm Glad Man of steel was heavy on the destruction and extremely light on the violence.

Jun 27 - 11:40 AM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

But a more HUMAN superman as the film was portraying Had no F*$#s to give, you know like a regular human being.

Jun 27 - 11:41 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

This "hollowness" is a self-reinforcing loop. I think regular human beings do still give a fuck, but there's a lot of media encouragement not to. Apathy has become fashionable, but I think, and hope ("S", right?), there's a backlash brewing.

Jun 27 - 12:49 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

As a parent I do admit it is kind of unsettling to be staring at a 9-11 rendition feeling a bit squeamish then turning to your son who shouts AWESOME HUH DAD!

So as a parent whats the best way to talk about this. NO Son, Violence isn't awesome! however...in context of the film yes..yes it is awesome...Thousands upon thousands of dead is in fact the perfect time to kiss the cute tv reporter and quip a joke! I mean yeah it was louder bigger and technically more and more had to die but Arnold has been making quips about killing back when I was a kid. Like I said it's all just very confusing.

Man of Steel was set to overkill with the destruction and yes it bothered me and it didn't bother my kids at all. We watched Chronicle and for some reason my son was terrified of Andrew who's destruction pales in comparison to what happened to Metropolis. It's all about the context and if a cool guy can walk away from an explosion with out even looking at it why would a kid be bothered when superman and Zod obliterate Metropolis?

Jun 27 - 11:48 AM

Rated NCC-1701

Rated NCC-1701

Funny that you would bring up Ahnuld. When it comes to death in films, I always trustfall back on his elegant philosophy from True Lies:

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Do you kill people?
AHNULD: Yeah, bud dey were all bad.

Jun 27 - 12:30 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

It's also probably worth noting that all of Arnold's ultra-violent 80s films were rated "R".

Jun 27 - 12:55 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

HA, holy crap the ratings of films did not even cross my mind during this rant! Wow. Also everyone Arnold killed was a bad guy. I suppose you could argue the the "YOUR FIRED!" Line could have possibly killed some innocents on the ground after that chopper full of terrorists fell...

Jun 27 - 02:26 PM

King  S.

King Simba

I don't know, there were still a few times where he really pushed it. Like in Total Recall where he hid behind a innocent civillian to protect himself from gunfire. Also, while the guys he killed in Predator were bad guys, he still killed them for a crime they did not commit, a point that the film conviently forgot about even after they found out who was really cutting and skinning people.

On the other hand, I don't think any big budget blockbuster stressed out the value of human life as much as Terminator 2 did.

Jun 27 - 11:20 PM

Brad and Netflix

Bradly Martin

STICK AROUND! What a sociopath!

Jun 28 - 10:22 AM

Dave J

Dave J

Actually, he was already shot and killed by the bad guys who were shooting at Quaid while he was trying to escape, all Quaid did was used him as a shield! And I'd probably do the exact same thing if the person was already dead! That was one of my all time favorite scenes!

Jun 28 - 03:42 PM

seanmprd78

Sean Guyon

@King Simba...Those guys they killed just blew an American's brains out just before Arnold's team wasted them.

Jun 29 - 05:32 AM

Rated NCC-1701

Rated NCC-1701

I'm still waiting for the release of a "Human Victim #2834" action figure. Lawd know they'll never make a "Lois Lane" one.

Jun 27 - 12:18 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

We used burnt Grunts (GI Joe 1st gen) for our 'human victims'.

Jun 27 - 12:50 PM

Rated NCC-1701

Rated NCC-1701

Makes me wonder how pussified the PG-13 rating really is. Would Man of Steel still retain that rating if Superman grieved Zod's death with a "FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU..!"?

Jun 27 - 12:23 PM

Rated NCC-1701

Rated NCC-1701

The problem stems from the lack of character with explosions... THEY SHOULD NAME EXPLOSIONS! Script surgeon'd.

Jun 27 - 12:25 PM

Rated NCC-1701

Rated NCC-1701

Funny that you would bring up Ahnuld. When it comes to death in films, I always trustfall back on his elegant philosophy from True Lies:

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: Do you kill people?
AHNULD: Yeah, bud dey were all bad.

Jun 27 - 12:30 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

This "hollowness" is a self-reinforcing loop. I think regular human beings do still give a fuck, but there's a lot of media encouragement not to. Apathy has become fashionable, but I think, and hope ("S", right?), there's a backlash brewing.

Jun 27 - 12:49 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

We used burnt Grunts (GI Joe 1st gen) for our 'human victims'.

Jun 27 - 12:50 PM

What's Hot On RT

Total Recall
Total Recall

Ethan Hawke's 10 Best Movies

The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games

New Mockingjay teaser trailer

Emmys
Emmys

Full 2014 nominations list

Planet of the Apes
Planet of the Apes

Watch interviews with the cast

Find us on:                     
Help | About | Jobs | Critics Submission | Press | API | Licensing | Mobile