'Man of Steel' Unanswered Questions: 8 Things That Left Us Scratching Our Heads

'Man of Steel' Unanswered Questions: 8 Things That Left Us Scratching Our Heads

Jun 17, 2013

Man of Steel made $125+ million over the weekend, so chances are pretty strong that you saw it... and if you're like us, you probably have a question or two.

Although the latest Superman film is a generally excitng and extremely entertaining superhero movie, it has its fair share of unanswered questions, plot holes and just plain WTF the moments. So let's take a look back at Man of Steel and explore our various queries, nitpicks and complaints.


1. Who edited Zod's creepy broadcast?

About halfway through Man of Steel, General Zod commandeers every television, computer and smartphone on the planet to deliver a creepy message to the people of Earth. Through loud, piercing static, the monstrous Kryptonian military leader informs the human race that they are not alone and that they need to hand over Superman or else. There's no denying the effectiveness of the sequence -- it is legitimately scary -- but it brings up all kinds of questions about Zod's intent with the initial communication.

First of all, Zod is clearly not the kind of guy who cares what another species would think about him, so it's weird that he begins his message by repeatedly saying "You are not alone." It's almost as if Zod was completely aware of humanity's fascination with the possibility of life on other planets and is playing into our pop-culture idea of aliens. Which is weird. Secondly, the whole thing is cut together and presented like some kind of sci-fi anonymous video, edited for the best possible representation of doom and foreboding. Since Zod is otherwise treated as being a straightforward (if kinda' evil) guy, it's weird that his hello video is so dramatic... and so human.


2. Why are Kryptonian prison ships shaped like penises?

We'll go ahead and assume that director Zack Snyder and his army of designers and visual effects artists noticed that the ships that carry Zod and his compatriots into the Phantom Zone are shaped like a certain piece of the male anatomy. We'll just move forward with the understanding that the thousands of people who worked on Man of Steel noticed that this fleet of human-sized ships are shaped like penises. Because how could they not know?

So we have to ask: why are the Phantom Zone ships shaped like this? What horrible Kryptonian engineer sat down with a pen and paper and said "You know what'll be great? If the ships that take our prisoners to their horrible interdimensional prison were shaped like a male reproductive organ. Think of the humiliation!" Anyway, can we safely assume that Jor-El was behind this design? He does take credit for designing other ships later in the film. Nice one, Jor-El.


3. Why didn't Zod attempt to trick Superman rather than tell him his master plan in a nightmare/hallucination/psychic invasion?

Deep into the film, Superman hands himself over to Zod and his forces. Once on board the Kryptonian ship, he collapses in the unfamiliar atmosphere and finds himself in a psychic conversation with General Zod, who dumps a bunch of exposition on him. To Zod's credit, he does shoot pretty straight with the long-lost son of Jor-El, laying out his entire plan in fairly extensive detail (like any supervillain worth his salt, really). 

Of course, this forces us to think about exactly what Zod is attempting to accomplish here. If he's the kind of guy willing to wipe out an entire race, then why isn't he willing to lie to the powerless son of his former rival to achieve his goals? Telling Superman "Hey, I want to get the codex to save our race, why don't you help me?" is surely more effective than "Tell me where the codex is so I can wipe out your entire adopted homeworld! Muwhahaha!" If he had simply lied, he would have won. Simple as that.

4. How did the military not know where Superman flew his ship?

This is the nitpick to end all nitpicks, but screw it, we're going there! When the military discovers a 20,000 year old Kryptonian ship deep under Canadian soil, Superman sneaks onto the site and steals it right from under their noses. In the ensuring calamity, Lois Lane writes an article on the event, the military denies everything and Superman lands his ship elsewhere and learns about his home planet from a holographic projection of his father. 

The movie doesn't address it, so we will: Why the heck doesn't the military use its satellites and radar and other technological whatevers to find where he flew the thing? It's not like it's beyond the military's abilities. Thirty minutes later, they're picking up satellite images of Zod's similar Kryptonian ship hanging out near the moon. There's one simple answer to all of this: because the screenplay didn't want the military to find Superman. And that's fine. Sort of.


5. Why doesn't Superman go after the giant ship in Metropolis?

When Zod releases the World Engine (heh) and begins forcibly terraforming the planet, our heroes split into two teams. Superman heads across the world to deal with the Engine itself while the military and Lois Lane head to Metropolis to shut down Zod's ship, which is working in tandem with the Engine. This is a very, very stupid plan.

The movie makes it clear that the World Engine and the Zod's ship are working together, so shutting down one will neutralize the other. So why does Superman fly to the machine that's doing its damage out in the middle of nowhere while all of the very mortal soldiers go to Metropolis, where thousands of people are dying by the minute? Wouldn't it have made more sense for Superman and the military to head to the massive urban center so they can save lives and avert a world-ending catastrophe at the same time? After all, with Superman's help, all of those pilots wouldn't have crashed, thousands of civilians wouldn't have died and the World Engine would have been shut down from across the world. Superman really needs to be a better strategist.


6. How many people would have lived if Superman simply never existed?

One of the more troubling aspects of Man of Steel is that everything bad that happens in it is Superman's fault. Think about it. If he had never existed, or if his father had never sent him off Krypton in the first place, Zod would have never come to Earth and threatened millions of lives. Earth would continue its blissful and ignorant existence. No harm, no foul. But wait, there's more! Let's say Superman did arrive on Earth as a baby and did grow into an adult with all kinds of superpowers. If he had simply not touched that crashed Kryptonian spaceship, he wouldn't have sent off a distress signal and wouldn't have pulled Zod straight to Earth.

Is Man of Steel the only superhero film where every single threat would have been resolved peacefully if the hero simply wasn't there at all? It sure feels like it.


7. How many people did Superman kill in the final fight scene?!

With the World Engine destroyed and most of the evil Kryptonians sent back to the Phantom Zone, Superman finally confronts General Zod in the middle of a wrecked Metropolis. Words are exchanged and the punches begin to fly, buildings begin to fall and you start to wonder about all of the collateral damage involved in this final, epic fight scene. There's no denying that the whole sequence is impressive, handsomely put-together stuff, but when Superman throws Zod through yet another building and civilians look on while the skyline crumbles around them, you start to wonder if Superman is killing just as many people as Zod was. It's a shame, really. Snyder stages a superhero fight bigger and grander and more insane than anything ever seen on the screen before, but it has us more concerned about the anonymous folks on the ground than the metahumans in the sky.

8. Why does young Clark Kent play as Superman?

There's a reason we see a young Clark Kent wearing a red cape while he plays in the backyard, posing in that familiar superhero pose. We see it because it's an emotionally effective image and one that's bound to bring a tear to the eye of every Superman fan the world over. 
But it doesn't make any sense. Why would a young Superman pretend to be, uh, Superman?
After all, Clark Kent grows up in a world where there aren't any Superman comics, shows or movies because he is Superman. Why would he wear a red cape and dash around his front yard like a superhero? If there's no Superman yet, where would he even get the idea to wear a red cape? Do superheroes even exist in the popular culture of a fictional world where superheroes actually exist?  If he's not playing as a superhero, what is he playing? And what relevance would it have to his father, who was apparently pretty moved by watching his son pretend to be the fictional character that is actually real who he really is?

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