Much like the Uncle Ben character in the Spiderman series, the morals he instils in Clark are the foundation for the man he will become. The only thing is, it seems like the only message that he is teaching Clark in this film is that he should never reveal himself to the humans and that they will turn on him at the drop of a hat.
He believes this so strongly that instead of letting Clark save their dog from a trapped car during a surprise tornado, he opts to do it himself. Standing there in the path of the Class 5 monster tornado until he is consumed by it as his son watches, doing nothing but waving goodbye casually.
The idea that Clark would stand there and watch his father die, just to remain hidden to a bunch of about 20 people in the middle of a tornado is utterly, utterly ridiculous to me. No hero would ever let someone die, let alone one of their parents, simply to keep their secret.
Then we come to the battle with Zod at the end of the film, his crew have dispatched a terraforming device onto Metropolis which in essence destroys the entire city. Surely millions die during this event, but not once do we see any kind of effect on Superman at the loss of all this life, it seems like a fairly obvious motivator that could have justified the actions he takes shortly after.
Generally, Superman doesn’t kill, at least not in the canon of the comics (yes he does kill Zod in the comics, but bear with me). We can let it slide that sometimes he is forced into circumstances here where he must take a life . No worries.
What we can’t let slide is that there is no moral dilemma inside Kal-El to make this act more poignant. We don’t see how he comes to respect human life so much that it makes that gesture of him giving up his innocence all the more impactful.
He simply does it because it needs to be done, and that’s fine, but it feels empty without the moral justification behind it. Rather, we now feel that he’s killed in this first film, and that there will be more consequences down the road when he chooses not to kill.
The first thing that comes to mind is Lex Luthor, when he inevitably appears in the films again down the road, then why not simply turn him to ash and save a million lives? Now he no longer has the moral high ground to not take that option when it means saving so many innocent lives.
So back we are at the basic premise of heroism, the basic traits that enable us to call someone a hero: selflessness, honour and bravery. Making the hard decisions with no regard to your own wellbeing and putting the needs of others before your own.
Overall, Snyder’s Superman perhaps achieved a portion of that, which is not altogether bad, but certainly not the high standard that we were hoping for. He is certainly heroic, but lacks the justification and the conviction to sell the idea of a man with so much power choosing to do so much good with it.
DC is clearly making a move towards a Justice League film, which is essentially their version of The Avengers, but with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the like.
But in the hussle of getting these franchises off the ground, they’ve forgotten both what makes a good film and what makes a hero a hero in the first place.
Most of the points we’ve made here may sound negative, but consider them a critique with the hope that they will correct these things for the inevitable sequel.