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.

Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ hits audiences with big ideas, soars over small-minded critics

Man of Steel Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ aims for epic, and on almost every level it delivers. That is probably why it set a new best-ever opening weekend record for June. It has grossed $125.1 million by its first Sunday in theaters. Audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, and yet the “professional” critics have been less kind. That is because ‘Man of Steel’ is about big ideas, and many critics have small minds.

A snapshot of some of the worse reviews indicate critics wanted something “fun,” which is probably a euphemism for “This isn’t anything like Christopher Reeves’ Superman.”

  • “Skimps on fun and romance.” (Newsday)
  • “There’s very little humor or joy in this Superman story.” Richard Roeper
  • “Man of Steel (has) a cold heart that no amount of spectacle can compensate for.” (Art House Film Guide)
  • “Where’s the fun?” (Movieline)

Could Zack Snyder have made a plucky Superman film? Sure. But that’s not what he wanted to do. He wanted to explore what it would really be like if someone like Superman walked among us. How would it affect him? How would the world react? Would it be a blessing or a curse?

Here’s what I said upon the release of the first trailer:

The truth is, the world would reject Superman. And in his love for humanity he would offer himself up to them. No matter how strong and powerful he was and no matter how much he tried to convince humanity that he loved it they would fear and, ultimately, seek to destroy him. A world in which Superman exists would thrust a moral weight upon the shoulders of its citizens that would be too uncomfortable to bear for millions (possibly billions) of people, and they would seek to find ways to cast off such a burden by banishing him from earth, discrediting or destroying him all together.

If Zack Synder plays his cards right he will have a hit movie on his hands that millions of its critics will hate for reasons they won’t be able to comprehend until years after the fact, if at all.

That is exactly the movie Zack Synder has made. It’s a movie about finding out why were put on this earth and what our purpose is. It’s about first knowing the difference between right and wrong — and then choosing the hard right instead of the easy wrong. It’s about having faith and hope and trust in our fellow man, but acknowledging that we are all fallible. It’s about a hero who we call Superman, but it’s also about the hero inside each and every one of us. ‘Man of Steel’ honors the individual, but stresses the importance of selfless service and the commitment we have to our family and our community.

The critics who say this movie has no “joy” are the ones who sound like they’re from another planet. ‘Man of Steel’ is one of the most uplifting superhero movies I’ve seen in ages, and it’s made better by a cast of actors who all basically knock it out of the ballpark.

Diane Lane is fantastic as Martha Kent, and the scene it which she soothes a young Clark as he struggles to understand his powers is pitch perfect. The tenderness she shows reminds us all of our own mother’s best moments — all heroes in their own right.

Kevin Costner’s role as Jonathan Kent is equally as impressive. He understands that work is a virtue. He has strong hands and a dirty shirt from his labor, but his heart is pure. He does his best to instill honesty and integrity in his boy in an imperfect world. And, even as he wrestles with moral conundrums, he gives his son a road map that will help him navigate life’s most difficult terrain.

Henry Cavill is Clark Kent. He is not Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent — nor should he have been. Director Zack Snyder knows that when you start asking questions like “Who is Superman?” that you are also asking “Who is Clark Kent?” and “Who is Kal-El?” And the answer is that at his core he is pure, he is strong and he is kind. He embodies courage and selfless service. He represents our highest ideals — the ones we know we can never fully attain, but die honorably trying to pursue. How Clark’s essence manifests itself on screen will very from actor to actor, but Henry Cavill’s Superman does the character proud.

‘Man of Steel’ has its flaws, but one of them is certainly not the absence of joy. Zack Snyder knew exactly what he wanted, and everyone from the actors on screen to the special effects guys gave it to him. Love it or hate it, ‘Man of Steel’ is the finished product born out of a very clear vision of what a modern Superman movie needed to be in order to succeed.

At a pivotal point in the film, Clark realizes that as impressive as his powers are, he has not even begun to tap the well of potential inside of him. It’s a powerful scene — one in which millions of viewers will likely reflect on their own efforts to harness the greatness within them. That is a joyous thing. That gives us reason to smile, and hope for the future of all mankind.

Don’t worry about the critics, Mr. Snyder. People around the world have now listened to the words of Jor-El and know that while he was speaking to the character Clark, he was also speaking to them: they too can “accomplish wonders.” And for that, we are thankful.

Man of Steel Henry Cavill

Geoff Johns’ Simon Baz: Politically correct Green Lantern joke

Two tattoos — but only one of these characters is a car thief. Hint: He’s near and dear to liberal writer Geoff Johns.

Geoff Johns’ new Green Lantern, Simon Baz, has something in common with me — we both have “courage” tattoos. The major difference between us? He’s a car thief, and I’m a law abiding citizen. I got mine while I was on leave with my Army buddies in Greece and everyone from my platoon decided it was time to get some ink. I hated all the options available, but I wasn’t about to deal with the jokes that would follow if I punked out. Simon Baz? His ink seems to stem from all the hardship he had to endure as a Muslim American, post 9/11. Sadness. The kind of sadness that propels a man to a life of crime.

The Four Color Media Monitor and Carl’s Comics beat me to covering Green Lantern 0 — the politically correct nightmare of a comic that couldn’t have come out at a worse time for Johns — but this one is too good to pass up. Johns, taking a cue from the Obama administration, was probably hoping to hit the “reset” button on September 11 with the introduction of a prominent Arab American superhero. He was hoping his portrayal of the racist, Islam-fearing Middle America and the water-boarding U.S. government would tell Muslim comic fans everywhere, “Hey, we’re the bad guys, but there are liberal creative types like me who are exposing it to change the world.”

Unfortunately for Johns, the Libyan militias who murdered Ambassador Christopher Stevens, two former Navy SEALs and another American on September 11, 2012 had other plans. It turns out that the world is more complex than a Geoff Johns comic book after all. Who knew.

Here’s the abridged version for how Simon Baz came to be:

  • 9/11 happens. Simon Baz, from Dearborn Mich., is subsequently harassed for his heritage after the attacks.
  • Somewhere along the way, Baz becomes an automotive engineer. He loses his job, and becomes a car thief.
  • Baz steals a car that ends up having a huge bomb in it. He drives it to his old, abandoned factory during a police chase, and it explodes.
  • Baz is interrogated. He becomes frustrated that in a post 9/11 world, in Dearborn Mich., that a Muslim engineer directly linked to a blast that took down an entire factory is suspected of having terrorist ties, and yells: “I’m a car thief, not a terrorist!”
  • The government doesn’t believe him. Let the water boarding commence! (Oddly enough, this happens under the current administration. Sadly, “President-indefinite-detention-for-Americans-Obama” is not mentioned by name. That sort of thing, name-dropping a sitting president in a negative light, stopped in comics when Bush left office, I guess.)
  • The famous ring chooses Simon Baz to become a Green Lantern, telling him “You have the … error … ability to overcome great fear.”
  • Cliffhanger.

Personally, I don’t care that Simon Baz is Muslim. I really don’t. What I care about is that once again we have a liberal writer who feels the need to jam his politically-correct vision of the world down the reader’s throat.

Note: Images below are not in the order they appear in the book. If it’s not obvious why, feel free to ask in the comments section.

Look out! It’s post 9/11, and gangs of predominantly white anti-Islam bigots are roaming the streets looking to pick on a random girl wearing a hijab. Yawn.
Cop #1: “Hey Chief, we chased this guy down. He drove a car filled with enough explosives to take down an entire automobile plant. It’s rubble. Lit up the night sky. Background check says he’s an engineer. Muslim American. Yes, he’s from Dearborn, Mich., but I think we can rule out terrorism, dontcha think?”
“I told you, I’m a Muslim-American carjacker and NOT a terrorist! Why does everyone go to the terrorism thing every time there’s a lone Muslim dude at the scene of a megaton explosion? Yeesh. My parents should have stayed in the Middle East, where Christians like you guys are second class citizens and you don’t have the power to pull this kind of crap.”

While I’m sure the “error” message Simon got from the ring will explain why a thief was chosen as a Green Lantern, it is rather interesting that out of all the good Muslims in the world … Geoff Johns chose a guy whose instinct is to resort to crime when he’s in a jam. PS: His costume also looks like something that he pulled from a Hamas bargain bin. Might want to change that one, Mr. Johns.

Hamas called. They want credit for the new Green Lantern costume or they’re taking you to court, Geoff Johns. Well, that or they might kill someone.

Ah yes, no American comic featuring a Muslim would be complete if the creators didn’t make sure to let everyone know how dark and twisted America is at its soul. I heard that if you’re Muslim and you get caught jaywalking, you might wind up with a black bag over your head at an undisclosed location. Geoff Johns told me, so it’s probably true.

Again, I really don’t give a rip that Simon Baz is Muslim. I don’t even care if he puts a force field around himself during battle to take time to pray to Mecca. Knock yourself out, Mr. Johns. But what I do care about is the lopsided debate that you’re injecting into the material. Sure, you’ll go to the Arab-American National Museum to do research, but I doubt anyone like Ayaan Hirsi Ali will ever be reached out to. Ever. So instead of getting a thought-provoking read about culture clashes and religion, we get yet another lecture from the sensitivity police. No thanks. I think I’ll save the disposable income.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll read Guy Delisle’s Pyongyang for the tenth time.

Note: The Pyongyang review is here.

The Dark Knight Rises: A conservative review

Christopher Nolan has set the bar mighty high for whomever follows him on the Batman franchise. The Dark Knight Rises might not be the perfect movie, but it’s a superhero film that transcends almost all other superhero films. It succeeds much more often than it fails, and for that Nolan should be proud of what he’s accomplished.

Where was Christopher Nolan supposed to go after the success of The Dark Knight? How could he have possibly topped the second installment of his Batman trilogy? There really weren’t many options, except to make a superhero movie that was more than a superhero movie — and for that Nolan apparently turned to Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. The director went for something truly epic — he shot for the moon — and while we can debate whether or not he actually hit his target, it seems pretty obvious that he made it to the stars.

After the second trailer for The Dark Knight Rises came out on May Day, I hoped that years from now political junkies would hear Bane say, “When Gotham burns, you have my permission to die,” and immediately associate him with Keynesian economics and the totalitarian tendencies that spring forth from it. The movie didn’t disappoint, as Bane displays classical training in the rhetoric of leftist dictator-goons throughout history. And if Bane comes across as a Marxist revolutionary, then Selena Kyle is the useless idiot who buys into his snake oil.

Take note of Catwoman, as she displays jealousy, greed, envy and a sense of entitlement all in one minute conversation with Bruce.

Selena Kyle: You don’t get to judge me just because you were born in the master bedroom of Wayne Manor. … I started out doing what I had to. When you’ve done what you’ve had to they’ll never let you do what you want to.

Bruce Wayne: Start fresh.

Selena Kyle: There is no fresh start in today’s world. Any 12 year old with a cell phone can find out what you did. … Everything sticks.

Bruce: Is that how you justify stealing?

Selena Kyle: I take what I need from those who have more than enough. I don’t stand on the shoulders of people with less. … I think I do more to help someone than most of the people in this room — than you.

Bruce Wayne: Do you think maybe you’re assuming a little too much? …

Selena Kyle: You think all of this can last? There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it does you and your friends are going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.

Ms. Kyle wants to live in a world where she doesn’t have to suffer the consequences of her actions. She made mistakes, and instead of owning up to them she doubles down on a path of deceit. It is only when Ms. Kyle moves in the ideological direction of Mr. Wayne that her fortunes begin to change. Revolutionaries like Bane only bring misery and terror, while men like Wayne offer order, true hope, redemption and selflessness.

Perhaps no better part sums up the difference between Bruce Wayne and his leftist adversaries than the rising climax. The cynical, class-warfare spewing Catwoman intellectually aligned with Bane throughout most of the movie, a man who sought to destroy an entire city to realize his goals. Bruce, on the other hand, proves that he is willing to sacrifice himself for an entire city.

Selena Kyle: Sorry to keep letting you down. Come with me. Save yourself. You don’t owe these people any more. You’ve given them everything.

Bruce: Not everything. Not yet.

Within minutes, Kyle knows that Bruce is the better man, and she falls for him. By the end of The Dark Knight Rises, the man she accused of “living so large” and leaving “so little for the rest of us” has proven himself her superior mentally, physically and spiritually, and she shows her epiphany in dramatic fashion.

As I said before, The Dark Knight trilogy will be, on many levels, the Bane of liberal moviegoers’ existence. No matter what Christopher Nolan does—no matter what he says from this day forward—he can never take back these films (thank God). It’s a gold mine of conservative values waiting to be explored. And, while Nolan’s personal politics might not be conservative, he at least gave the worldview a fair shake. In Hollywood, that’s all conservatism needs to starts winning hearts and minds. Besides, when The Village Voice hates a movie, I know I have something to work with.

If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, check it out while it’s in theaters. Love it or hate it, it’s a movie that’s going to be talked about for a long time.

Batman is not gay, but Grant Morrison is liberal

When liberal writer Grant Morrison links sexual deviance to gay men it’s no big deal. If a conservative comic book writer did that he’d never get to work in the industry ever again. But hey, have fun writing The Caped Sandusky, Mr. Morrison.

Seemingly out of nowhere, writer Grant Morrison decided he was going to issue a decree: Batman is gay. Morrison is a powerhouse of a comic book writer, so I assume that he thinks he could start the editorial ball rolling in that direction. And that very well could happen, even if he was eventually given some sort of “alternate universe” gay-Batman story to write. As he told Playboy:

“[Bruce Wayne is] very plutonian in the sense that he’s wealthy and also in the sense that he’s sexually deviant,” Morrison told the magazine. “Gayness is built into Batman. I’m not using gay in the pejorative sense, but Batman is very, very gay. There’s just no denying it.” … Morrison adds, Batman’s “gayness” is actually part of the character’s near-universal appeal: “I think that’s why All these women fancy him and they all wear fetish clothes and jump around rooftops to get to him. He doesn’t care — he’s more interested in hanging out with the old guy and the kid.”

If Grant Morrison was named John Boehner or Kurt Cameron this story would be plastered on cable news shows for the next 48 hours. Since Grant Morrison has sturdily planted his feet in liberalism’s camp the generally-bigoted explanation he gives will go largely unnoticed.

If a conservative comic book creator coupled sexual deviance and “gayness” there would be hell to pay. When Grant Morrison does it, complete with allusions to what Bruce would do with “The Boy Wonder” … nothing. According to Grant Morrison, Batman really should be called The Caped Sandusky. Where is GLAAD when you need them? Probably monitoring conservative websites, I guess.

Let it be known that Grant Morrison is a guy who pumped himself up with so many drugs in Katmandu that he claims to have had a discussion with hyper-intelligent silver blobs from the fifth-dimension. Perhaps the fifth dimension exists, or…perhaps the trip melted parts of Grant’s brain.

With that said, the universal appeal of Batman doesn’t stem from his sexuality, but from his constant struggles with his inner demons, and his obsessive drive to root out evil. Or, as I said in regards to The Dark Knight Rises:

“Bruce Wayne, like all of us, is fallible. Like many Americans, he doesn’t want to believe that The Batman has to exist, but “he must.” He must because there are evil men.”

Bruce is wealthy, and most people would like to be wealthy. He’s fallible, and all of us are fallible. He’s conflicted, and all of us are conflicted. And he strikes fear into the hearts of of very bad men. What’s not to like?

If you’re still wondering why someone would decide that it would be okay to switch a character’s sexuality out of nowhere, look no further than the writers of Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man, who created a half-black, half-hispanic version of the ol’ web head:

Italian artist Sara Pichelli, who was integral in designing the new Spider-Man’s look, says, “Maybe sooner or later a black or gay — or both — hero will be considered something absolutely normal.”

As I said before, it is normal! It’s only not normal when it’s shoved in our faces. It’s only not normal when political points are shoe-horned into a story for no other reason than to make readers adopt a Progressive worldview. Instead of creating a likable gay character with mass appeal, guys like Morrison wish they could just say, “Batman is gay” and have one. It doesn’t work that way, and all it does is annoy people.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to watch The Dark Knight Rises trailer for the 100th time.