David Goyer is right: The ‘Superman doesn’t kill’ rule hurts the character

Man of Steel

Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ was one of the few films this summer that actually managed to live up to the hype, but it wasn’t without controversy. Whether it was on social media websites or just in the comments sections of many reviews, there seemed to be many fans who were upset with the ending because “Superman doesn’t kill.”

David Goyer has now weighed in on the subject, and he’s spot on in his analysis: The “Superman doesn’t kill” rule hurts the character.

Ditital Spy reports:

“We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial,” Goyer said. “It’s not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren’t just doing it to be cool. We felt, in the case of Zod, we wanted to put the character in an impossible situation and make an impossible choice.

“This is one area, and I’ve written comic books as well and this is where I disagree with some of my fellow comic book writers – ‘Superman doesn’t kill’. It’s a rule that exists outside of the narrative and I just don’t believe in rules like that. I believe when you’re writing film or television, you can’t rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film.

“So the situation was, Zod says ‘I’m not going to stop until you kill me or I kill you.’ The reality is no prison on the planet could hold him and in our film Superman can’t fly to the moon, and we didn’t want to come up with that crutch.

“Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he’s not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he’s Superman and because people idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard.” …

Boom. This is the exact argument I had with Dan Slott’s version of Peter Parker (before he killed the character and replaced Spider-Man with a guy who tried to exterminate six billion people).  In Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott’s Peter Parker had a “no one dies” rule, which came across as absurd and silly because sometimes heroes are placed in impossible situations. Sometimes they must make a decision that ends a life in order to save a life. Those are the sorts of stories that add new layers and depth to a character, and the response from advocates of “no one dies” or “Superman doesn’t kill” rules tends to be weak.

Dan Slott’s response to my critique of the “no one dies” mentality was to call me an idiot over and over again while abusing the caps-lock button, and then to distort what I said. The “Superman doesn’t kill” crowd often goes into a realm of thought occupied by anti-war protesters. “War is bad. Always. Nothing good ever comes from war. Nothing. … Superman doesn’t kill. Ever. Because taking a life is always bad. Always.”

Well, okay. On some level, yes. Sane people don’t thirst for war and don’t enjoy the thought of having to kill. But war did help end slavery in the United States and it also brought down Nazi Germany, for example. That’s why we honor the fallen. We know that in many ways the price for liberty is often paid for in blood.

Thomas Paine puts it more beautifully than I ever could:

“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated,” (Thomas Paine)

Years ago I worked with a Quaker, and she said there was nothing — nothing — that could convince her to take up arms against her fellow man. I said that I respected her decision, but that it would be nice if she acknowledged that her safety and security was then dependent on better men and women than she, who would stand up to those who would deny her of life and liberty. She was livid — and I was unapologetic.

If armed men burst into my Quaker-coworker’s house in the middle of the night and tried to harm her children, would she just stand there and watch? Or, would she find her inner Superman and attempt to extinguish the threat to her children? Would she, placed in that situation, be willing to possibly end lives to save lives? I would hope so.

If Superman fans want the best stories possible, in print or projected on the big screen, they should stop trying to get writers to adhere to random rules that limit the possibilities for character growth. It would be bizarre if creators tried to turn Superman into Batman, but at the same time he should not be spared the pain, sorrow, anguish and regret that can often come by making a life-or-death decision. If he truly is a hero, then he will exit the gauntlet a better person and teach us all something about ourselves in the process.

Superman Citizenship Controversy: Just The Tip of the Iceberg.

Did you ever imagine you'd read a Superman comic where U.S. servicemen were ordered to aim sniper rifles at The Man of Steel? Neither did I. But it's now a reality, thanks to the creative geniuses at DC.

The plan to have Superman renounce his U.S. citizenship appears to have been scuttled, thanks in part to comics fans who know character assassination when they see it. When I first reacted, I noted that a thorough review would have to wait until I read the story in its entirety. I can now safely say that I have done so, and zero retractions are necessary.

Upon reading The Incident (fitting title, indeed!), there aren’t too many new angles to cover. I suppose it’s interesting that David Goyer thought the Obama administration, upon its first disagreement with longtime-ally Superman, would react by ordering Kryptonite-armed U.S servicemen to put the big ‘S’ in their crosshairs. Instead of simply calling in Supes for a frank discussion (you would have thought he earned at least that much), the current administration flanks him with snipers. Superman says to the president’s national security advisor:

“Those Marine snipers you’ve got stationed up on that ridge about 200 yards to the North…their winter camo doesn’t do much to hide them, since I can see into the U.V. and infrared spectrums. That high velocity round in your primary sniper’s rifle is Kryptonite, right? You expect me to give you trouble?”

With friends like that (just as paranoid as your run-of-the-mill Iranian mullah nut), who needs enemies? How inept can this fictionalized U.S. government be if they think they can touch a guy who’s faster than a speeding bullet (much, much faster) with a high tech sniper rifle? And what kind of sick world would it be if a U.S. Marine ever had to be given a direct (lawful) order to kill Superman?

Regardless, there’s a moment in The Incident that sums up exactly why liberal writers often have such a hard time crafting stories for characters whose essence is America:

“I’m an alien, Mr. Wright. Born on another world. I can’t help but see the bigger picture. I’ve been thinking too small. I realize that now,” (Superman).

What Superman doesn’t get (and by that I mean “David Goyer”), is that America is one of the few countries that is about big ideas. Universal ideas. God-given rights instead of rights doled out by men with guns and power and money. In this instance, Superman is right—he is thinking incredibly small. The only problem? It’s caused by a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of The United States and its place in the world.

Within The Incident, Superman acknowledges that he’s fought dictators and despots from across the universe (some of them time-travelers). And yet, even then the superhero doesn’t make the connection that America is a unique and special place. The thugs in Iran who control people by fear and intimidation are no different than the galactic debris Superman encounters. America, because of the nature of its founding, is wholly different. A writer who understands the importance of natural rights would have recognized this, and adjusted Superman’s dialogue accordingly.

As I’ve said before, I don’t expect (or want) artists and writers to give me a Hannitized history of the United States. However, writers with an American icon in their care should at least have a basic understanding of American history. If they’re going to force-feed their worldview on others, they can at least do so with finesse. I haven’t seen that happen with Marvel Comics or the DC Universe. Superman may not end up renouncing his U.S. citizenship to the United Nations in Action Comics #901, but The Incident is just further evidence that the industry is out of touch with conservative fans. My disposable income will continue to trickle until changes are made.

Hint to David Goyer: A good start would be nixing the idea to have U.S. Marines aiming at Superman with Kryptonite rounds.

Superman Falls To Liberalism. Hunger Strike Protesting Kim Jong Il Next?

Next Up: The Man of Steel goes on a hunger strike to show Kim Jong Il who's boss. Meanwhile, a few more gulag victims die. Congrats, Supes!

Who would have thought there would come a day when Superman would renounce his U.S.citizenship? Well, the answer is simple—us conservative comic nerds have known something like this was within the realm of possibility for quite awhile. The last Superman movie did away with “Truth, Justice, and The American way,” and Wonder Woman is on the verge of dropping the Lasso of Truth for the Lasso of Unbinding International Agreements. Marvel is run by a buffoon like Joe Quesada, and Captain America fears the Tea Party. You don’t have to be Mr. Fantastic to realize it’s only a matter a time before your favorite character is manhandled by a liberal moral relativist.

But the headlines are misleading. It isn’t “Superman” or “Wonder Woman” or “CaptainAmerica” we should be concerned about—it’s the liberal writers with zero respect for a character’s history. A good writer can shake things up on a title without ever damaging the integrity of the character. A bad writer mistakes messing with a hero’s core with avant-garde creativity.

 Like my review of Superman: Earth One, an extensive post of the issue must wait until I’ve actually read it in its entirety (something most bloggers will probably not do…) However, the Superman citizenship hubbub is the perfect opportunity to once again shed light on the industry’s artists and writers destroying icons with impunity. Most business models punish abject failure, but radioactive liberalism has warped the minds of the men at the top. Instead of learning from their past mistakes, the comic industry lauds men who turn our heroes into postmodern, spandex-clad, empty vessel beta-males.

Who knows more about Superman: You, the reader who still holds to “antiquated” ideas about honor, integrity, freedom, and liberty—or the narcissistic liberal artist who doesn’t know the difference between a deconstruction and vaporization? 

With that said, conservatives share some of the blame. For the most part, conservative comic fans simply protest with their wallet. (Again, this would be understandable and sufficient if regular market forces weren’t impeded by an invisible field of arrogance.) Instead of taking to Twitter and Facebook and any number of other social media platforms, fans have abdicated their responsibility to do what they do best—make noise.

Worse yet, those who have a larger megaphone sometimes misuse it. Remember when Allahpundit took a big dump on Green Lantern and Thor based solely on their absence from the A-list? It’s tough to change an industry when the “grass roots” sit silent and the “grass tops” are taking pot shots from the right (note: his Superman post is fairly good, though).

Do you want to know why most comics that suck, suck? It’s because you can’t fake it. And when you have a liberal moral relativist at the helm of a title that’s about good vs. evil, you get “the suck.” If you don’t believe it, you can’t be passionate about it. You can’t inspire if you’re not inspired. And the notion that most modern-day liberals weave memorable tales of moral clarity is a joke worthy of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Don’t agree with me? Then you’re probably the type of person who thinks Superman should go on a hunger strike to protest the gulags in North Korea. Why not? He’s already joining in non-violent protests in Iran…

Goyer’s installment, with tense art from Miguel Sepulveda, steals the spotlight in Action Comics No. 900. When Superman drops in on an Iranian protest to stand with demonstrators in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, the U.S. government takes him to task for acting as an instrument of national policy. Superman responds by renouncing his American citizenship and proclaiming himself a citizen of the universe…

The reason why America doesn’t intercede on behalf of oppressed nations all over the world is partly because, with limited resources (i.e., blood and treasure),  it would be impossible to do so. A non-violent protest by Motherfreakin’ Superman—with people who are only going to get thrown in a deep dark cell for decades (or worse) when he leaves—is an embarrassment to the character. It’s self-imposed impotence, and it makes Superman look like a big dupe.

You get it. I get it.  But Marvel and DC Comics obviously don’t.      

Call me when you’re ready for a conservative writer, guys. There are a lot of readers you’ve alienated or neglected over the years, and I’d like to help you get them back.

Until then, I’m happy calling you to the carpet.

Best,

Doug