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Up, up, and oh shit: The curious “logic” of “Man of Steel”

June 17, 2013
"Well, that's just nitpicking."

“Well, that’s just nitpicking.”

In the Richard Donner Superman (1978), Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane declares her interest in writing a series of articles to be titled “Making Sense of Senseless Violence.” She could earn a Pulitzer making sense of Man of Steel, which, despite having several enjoyable elements, exhibits about as much capacity for logic and reasoning as the Zimmerman jury pool. Team Snyder/Goyer/Nolan should have spent less time slathering on the Christ symbolism and CGI mayhem, and more spackling over the copious holes in their plot. To wit (NOTHIN’ BUT SPOILERS FROM HERE ON IN):

  1. Kryptonian society so disdains individuality and privacy that natural, biological childbirth has been outlawed for centuries. But instructions for conceiving and delivering a baby the old-fashioned way are apparently still so readily available that a married couple can complete the process all by their lonesome, on a whim, without detection. (As my own spouse pointed out, nobody seems to have noticed that the wife of a high-profile Kryptonian was pregnant. And she gets her figure back immediately!)
  2. Pa Kent delivers an alien artifact to a metallurgist, who confirms that it is indeed made of material not found on this Earth. Yet nobody reports this or deems it worthy of further of investigation. Because it’s not like it could make somebody famous or anything.
  3. Another one courtesy of my wife: Lois Lane is told that venturing out of her barracks into the Arctic night would mean certain death. Mere hours later, she does exactly this, to no ill effects whatsoever. She even removes her gloves when they become inconvenient, suffering no apparent loss of motion in her digits. (By way of a real-world contrast, Mrs. Schneider once nearly caught frostbite by leaving her own gloves behind when she went out to walk our dog on a winter morning – in Florida.)
  4. The battle between Superman and the Kryptonian villains appears to lay waste to much of Metropolis, leaving it looking like a burned-out ghost town. Seemingly overnight, the staff of The Daily Planet is happily back at work, without so much as an “Out of Order” sign on the coffee maker. Meanwhile, over in Gotham City, it took a billionaire several years and two movies to rebuild one house after a simple fire. I know where I’d rather live!
  5. Also, nobody at the Planet appears particularly interested in the big story that the Earth is now uninhabitable thanks to General Zod’s terraforming project – which, as we’ve already seen, penetrated the planet’s surface, ran right through its core and came out the other side, like a toothpick spearing an olive.
  6. Finally, when Clark Kent shows up for work at the Planet, Lois recognizes him immediately as Kal-El with glasses on. But all of the other crack journalists working at this great metropolitan newspaper – who have likewise just witnessed Superman up close and in action – are completely fooled. By implication, so will the rest of the world be – even though Superman was seen (and doubtlessly photographed) at multiple locations during the most significant event in the recorded history of mankind. We were actually better off back in the George Reeves/Christopher Reeve days, when the glasses simply fooled everybody. If you’re going to be silly, at least be consistent about it. Or, as Linus van Pelt once so sagely admitted, “I’m never so stupid as when I’m being smart.”

Read our reviewer Jeff Meyers’ full review of Man of Steel here.

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  • Ryan

    Man of Steel was entertaining and followed a logic that was internally consistent – for the most part. I noted the holes you mentioned but they weren’t that significant to stall the storyline. The only point worth referencing is point #4. That did seem very odd. Point #6 was awkward as it played out, admittedly, but it didn’t take away from the movie.

    Overall, the movie was fun. General Zod as portrayed in this film some additional depth than simply playing the typical evil archtype from Superman II. Sure, it could have been tightened up in parts, but I’d recommend seeing it…. If this new series follows the trend of the Batman trilogy, with the first movie setting the stage for the second and third films, I’d suspect that the next Superman film will be even better.

  • I’m Super how are you?

    but had many faults. 1. Supes killing Zod 2. Supes just letting Zod fly
    away in his ship in Smallville 3. Lois Lane knowing who Supes is 4.
    Fortress of Solitude a spaceship??? 5. The ‘S’ means hope….6. Too much
    Jor-El 7. Too much Diane Lane. 8. Steve Lombard? Really? more but im
    tired of typing…

  • Otowner5

    The massive logic holes bothered me as well. Superman spends 33 years mastering earth’s atmosphere and environment, yet Zod adapts to it within seconds. Superman coughs when he gets close to the smoky terraforming machine, yet inhaling shards of glass from a dozen or so destroyed skyscrapers bothers him not. And speaking of which; couldn’t they have taken that fight out to the salt flats? Like there wasn’t massive collateral damage from repeatedly throwing each other through one building after another, ENDLESSLY. I thought Superman hated killing innocent bystanders?. Oh, and the Kryptonians need “breathers” on earth, yet they don’t need air when underwater. Plus, the tornado sequence was just plain absurd.

    Worst of all, I didn’t care about a single character because they were all so one dimensional, and the film was downright BORING. It took itself entirely too seriously with not a shred of humor making it’s way into any of it’s ponderous 143 minutes. It’s popularity convinces me of one thing; that TV producers should now seriously considering airing a show called “Ow, my balls!” because American audiences are more than ready for it.

  • Patrycja

    Also, the umm… freezing of the villains – what kind of a punishment is that? People pay bazillions of dollars to get their as*es frozen, in order to become ‘resurrected’ in future. But on Krypton villains get it for free? Great. Just great.

  • Amdazzler

    Well, you’re entitled to your opinion, I guess, but some of this sounds like nothing but whining to me.

  • kanna

    #1 is seriously nitpicking. We don’t exactly know all the customs of kryptonian people. And as u can see from the movie his house is quite isolated.
    #2 Pa kent simply may have told him its some asteroid scrap and lied about it. Or the metallurgist may actually be someone Pa kent can trust with this kinda information??
    Again not a point to make such a big deal about.
    #3 Well i honestly dont remember that scene in that much detail as u have described but her coming out of the trailer is just like lois lane or any reporter. She just likes to snoop around.
    #4 I dont remember a building with “Daily Planet” sign being destroyed??? Do you ? Not all buildings are destroyed in metropolis.. And where in the movie said that the daily planet scene was next day itself???
    #5 This is plain wrong. I agree that there should have been some side effects of Terraforming project felt in metropolis but the movie didn’t have time to dwell into that as it ended after that final fight. If u remember the fight sequence, the area in which gravity changes was gradually increasing. Its not like one shot of this pulse to the core of the earth and the whole planet transformed into krypton like environment.
    #6 This I have no explanation for. This always puzzled me even in comics and animated adaptations that a simple coat and glasses are sufficient to disguise superman. I learned to live with it and so must all superman fans :P

    A film doesn’t have to explain each and every tiny detail of the plot on the screen. Some things are left to the imagination of the audience. As a matter of fact I dont like movies which tend to explain everything. Its not fun watching those type of movies, I liked Man of Steel. It has few points on which it could have improved but I’m satisfied with the overall output. My rating 8.5/10.

    One last thing to people who whine about destruction caused to metropolis, it was unavoidable. Zod made it very clear(in his own words btw) after the destruction of the ship that he’s going to kill all the humans infront of clark. Do you people really think that the last fight in metropolis could have been avoided somehow? Do you think zod would have followed superman to some other location or he would have simply started killing others?

    Grow up or use your brains a little.

  • Sean

    Yes there are a lot of whole but the one where @127:00 in where Zod and a group of Zods troops are about to kill his mother,and instead of flying in and taking her away ,he just hits Zod and travels miles away with him,leaving the rest to do what they want to her..
    then when he returns they are all gone LOL.

  • MeanJohnDean

    I agree with every word!