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Twenty Things That Make No Sense In Man Of Steel


This article “Twenty Things That Make No Sense In Man Of Steel” was written by @SpiritEquality and has been reprinted from his blog with his permission here.

I grew up reading Superman comics, but I also grew up watching great films (thanks to my Dad, who has great taste in films).Man of Steel fails to be a great comic book film and it fails to be a great film, too.

I wouldn’t have a problem with this, as it is a summer popcorn adventure at heart, if “Man of Steel” screenwriter David Goyer wasn’t going around in interview after interview saying how he put a lot of thought into the script and making it “realistic” (particularly the Empire interview I linked).

Here’s where he went off the rails: Superman *can’t* be “realistic, by the implausible nature of the story itself.

Think of the actual story: a scientist on a doomed planet decides to put his infant son on a rocket to a planet he’s never visited.


The core of the story immediately raises several question, none of which are dealt with in Goyer’s “realistic” script:



1) Why wouldn’t Jor-El build a ship big enough for himself, his wife, *and* his son to escape? (Nothing in the script shows Jor-El racing against time to build a ship and discarding the option of building a ship into which his whole family could fit)

2) Why Earth, out of every place in the universe? (Goyer makes this choice inexplicable by showing later how incompatible Earth’s atmosphere is for Krytonians – Zod can’t breathe there without a special mask…this is where a scientist sends his infant son?)

3) We have to believe that Jor-El has somehow set the coordinates for Earth so that Superman will not only go directly there, but will land (1) on Earth without missing this rapidly spinning object that is rotating around a sun (one wrong calculation and Kal-El misses the planet entirely and continues flying through space) (2) lands on actual land (as opposed to the middle of the ocean, in a river, or in a lake, to remain underwater undiscovered for some time, if not forever) (3) where a couple will find him that decides to adopt him (as opposed to seeing a fallen spaceship and thinking “Holy crap, alien baby, I’m outta here!”).

4) No one in Smallville asks where Clark comes from and without a social security number or birth certificate, he is able to enroll in a small town school. He also presumptively never sees a pediatrician, since the Kents would have some explaining to do (how does he get the shots required for students in most public elementary schools?)

And on and on.

So, we have to accept all that, just to get through the first 20 minutes of any Superman film. As Superman fans, we happily accept all of that. Unfortunately, this fantastic origin story – emphasis on *fantasy* – makes Superman uniquely unsuited for the “gritty realism” take of folks like Goyer. You can’t make Superman “realistic”, because the story is inherently unbelievable and couldn’t possibly work in reality.

Goyer has gone on record to say he wanted the film to be science fiction based, yet there is barely any science in the film. Goyer mentions he borrowed the bit about a society where births are genetically engineered was borrowed from “Brave New World”, but he never bothers to explain why Krypton adopted this cultural practice, nor why Jor-El stepped away from it to pursue a natural birth (the first in a thousand years), nor why he would be the only person to decide to do so (is natural birth illegal? somehow discouraged?). How does Zod even get to Earth? Why would they send Zod to the Phantom Zone with a fully operational ship that could also somehow escape the Phantom Zone and travel the universe, complete with provisions (Kryptonian food, water and some type of system for providing an artificial Kryptonian atmosphere…for a crew of criminals frozen cryogenically?). Superman is on Earth 33 years, ages from a baby to a man, yet Zod arrives and looks essentially the same as he did when he was first frozen. It took Zod apparently zero time to travel around the universe visiting random failed Kryptonian colonies, then flies to Earth after he receives a signal that Superman sends from Earth accidentally (said signal apparently transmits to any Kryptonian ship anywhere in the universe instantaneously…how does that work from a scientific perspective, again?).

Zod does not approve of your judgement of his film.

Zod does not approve of your judgement of his film.

How many more problems can I spot in the film? Let’s count the ways…

1) Lois traipses about in arctic temperatures (already said to be 40 below) in the middle of the night (which means it should be pitch black). Yet after seeing Superman in the distance through binoculars, she is able to amble about in the dead of night and track Superman until she’s almost right behind him (he never hears her with his super hearing, in a desolate environment).

2) On this ship, that has been abandoned for roughly 20,000 years, there are still floating robot sentries protecting it. Powered how? With zero maintenance?

3) Even though the ship crash landed on Earth and no one appears alive who might have maintained (or repaired) it (after what must be damage caused from crashing into Earth’s surface and being covered by ice for millenia), the ship takes off into flight with the insertion of Superman’s trusty Kryptonian USB stick.

4) Lois is wounded and in her first up close encounter with Superman, he cauterizes her wound (without medical training, he comes up with this, on the fly) and she becomes intensely interested in this fellow who just scarred her for life (and left her with sealed internal organs she might need, like intestines).

5) Lois somehow tracks Superman’s origins back to Smallville. How? She met him in Alaska. His stepfather has taught him the importance of secrecy to the point of giving his own *life* over it and we’re supposed to believe Superman has been leaving a long trail of clues that Lois can follow on her unauthorized vacation/quest?

6) Superman goes from jumping to suddenly teaching himself how to fly. No scientific explanation is offered for how he can fly (telekinesis?). Hulk-like jumps make sense (our gravity is weaker than Krypton, check), but actually been able to fly like a plane, making sharp turns, etc?

7) Why did none of the terraforming efforts in the failed Kryptonian societies work? Shouldn’t those planets already have been ready for Zod to move into, regardless of the failure of the colony thereupon? Why did all of these colonies fail?

8) No security for the Kryptonian main counsel’s headquarters? Zod can just storm in and start killing people? Why is Zod killing the leaders of his planet when he’s been bio-engineered to be a military leader, which presumptively means he respects chain of command and has been taught to do so, sine birth? What makes him suddenly decide to do a military coup, against a lifetime of training?

9) Superman is constantly abused by humans in the first half of the movie – bullied twice as a child (in the schoolbus, then near his father’s farm) and as an adult in the bar. Every interaction shown between Superman and humans other than his parents is either humans hurting or taunting him and him saving humans. Why would Superman have any attachment to Earth? Why wouldn’t he show up in Zod’s ship and suggest they fly off together to start a new Kryptonian colony, since this place sucks and is filled with abusive types?

Truly does not approve.

Truly does not approve.

10) Why is Zod dead set on establishing his new Kryptonian colony on Earth? If his mission is to protect Kryptonian life, why is he willing to kill one Kryptonian (Superman) just to establish a colony of one particular planet when there seems to be nothing preventing the terraforming technology from working just as well on Venus, Mars, or any planet at all?

11) Why would Superman surrender to Zod at all, since he says he doesn’t trust him? Why not immediately start fighting him? The man landed on Earth and threatened seven billion people. Why negotiate with someone like that, who is clearly mad?

12) Why aren’t militaries from other countries involved? Why is there no discussion of firing a nuke at Zod’s ship?

13) After half an hour of flying Zod through cornfields, buildings, etc, why can’t Superman fly Zod away during the climactic “heat vision aimed at family” scene? Why can’t that family just run away instead of cowering there waiting to get heat vision-ed?

14) How does heat vision even work?

15) Why did Goyer seem to vacillate between Earth’s atmosphere being the source of Superman’s powers and Earth’s sun? Prior incarnations of Superman can fly in space, this Superman can’t even breathe when he’s in a non-Earth atmosphere? There is an implication that the terraformer can take away his powers because it will make the area around it Krypton-like. Why? It wasn’t changing the *sun*, which is where Superman’s power’s come from. He even re-powers from the ordeal by reaching out towards the sun.

16) Why does Superman not engage in search and rescue after he kills Zod?

17) If Superman can break Zod’s neck, why can’t he break Zod’s arms and legs, then toss him into space?

18) Why would the Kryptonians send Zod and company to the Phantom Zone at all? Wouldn’t just freezing them forever accomplish the same life imprisonment result?

19) Perry doesn’t recognize Superman, who he just saw save the city, just because he throws on a pair of glasses? Goyer goes on and on about how silly it is for Lois not to notice that Clark is Superman, but her employer, Perry, is somehow taken in by this?

20) How does Superman get a job at the Daily Planet without a Social Security number? This isn’t a day labor job he got after waiting in the Home Depot parking lot, it’s an actual business. SMH.

And literally a million other questions.

If Goyer’s goal was to make Superman “believable”, he failed massively.

This, by the way, is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard someone say about Superman, courtesy of Goyer:

If there were more adventures for our Superman to go on, you’re given this thing where, you don’t know 100 percent what he’s going to do. When you put in stone the concept that he won’t kill, and it’s totally in stone, it really erases an option in the viewer’s mind…you’ll always have in the back of your mind, ‘How far can you push him?’ If he sees Lois get hurt, or his mother get killed, you just made a really mad Superman that we know is capable of some really horrible stuff, if he wants to be. That’s the thing that’s cool about him, in some ways. The idea that he has the frailties of a human emotionally. But you don’t want to get that guy mad.”


 I felt like that could also make you go, “This is the why of him never killing again.” “

Hey, Goyer, maybe you never got the memo, but most normal people don’t like killing people. I don’t need a particular oath to say I’m not going to go around snapping people’s necks. How about Superman doesn’t want to kill people because killing people f–king sucks? Pretty simple.

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  • maestro

    If the codex or whatever was in Supermans cells, then when he coughed blood on the ground when he was initially captured and beat up he left living cells with the blood lines Zod so desperately wanted, and why didn’t Zod just pick them up after? Maybe they have a different biology where blood that so resembles human blood doesn’t have cells in it? But blood is literally made red from the hemoglobin in cells so that’s just chance I guess? Why did he even want these blood lines so badly if he could just terraform and start a new planet on earth with the people he had?

    • Typhoon

      Same reason how implausible it is for people to believe that our population of 7 billion people started off from a a gene pool of TWO ( Adam and Eve) lol. For a civilization to trully expand there must be “variety” in the gene pool. Same reason why you can’t mate with your sister or cousin. The result would be 2 headed babies with a predilection for country music and sleeveless t-shirts and pork and beans and nascar.

      By the way. Superman was “infused” with thee ENTIRE race of Krypton. A simple drop I’m assuming would be like cutting each bean in a can of beans. Yea you’ll sort of get beans to eat but it’s just not the same as a whole bean.

  • Peter

    How did his dad get in a ship 20000 years before the capsule arrived???

  • Will

    Regardless of whether Superman received his powers from the atmosphere, or the suns radiation, the other Kryptonians shouldn’t have had any powers at all. They arrived and except for Zod, spent the entirety of the movie in their futuristic battle armor, which were self contained enough to keep them in Kryptonian atmospheric conditions and would have shielded them from the sun’s radiation. Also it irritated me how Superman was choking and helpless on Zod’s ship, but showed no signs of distress when he knocked out the bulkhead and started floating through space/upper atmosphere.

    • Darren Hood

      Exactly! It took months for baby Clark to breathe properly, yet it takes moments for Zod. It took 8 years for his powers to mature as well, yet it took hours for that to happen to Zod. The inconsistencies of this film are mind boggling. The whole thing comes across as a 90’s comic book story.

  • John

    Ok- Zod is genetically programmed to be a soldier- a fighter. Jor-El was born to be a scientist, a thinker. How in the Hell does Jor-El get the upper hand in their fight on Krypton? That’s like the president of the chess club kicking the starting quarterback’s ass in a fight.

    Ridiculous film.

    • Movie critic

      oh this made me laugh. Excellently said.

  • Charlie

    I think what was realistic was more of the script/dialogue than the storyline, cause I agree the story could’ve been much better. Obviously, they’re not gonna fill in retarded specifics like the guy nitpicking in his gay little writing, but I thought things could’ve been a little more innovative.

    • spirit equality

      “Obviously, they’re not gonna fill in retarded specifics like the guy nitpicking in his gay little writing…”

      If you’re going to be homophobic, could you at least have the courage to direct your homophobia at someone? I have no idea what “guy” you’re talking about.

      ps: Using the term “retarded” as a slang word is sophomoric.

  • Movie critic

    Seriously this movie was crap. I love superhero films. I mean really, you had me all hype and failed horribly. Didn’t you learn anything from spiderman and sorts. NEVER give a superhero all their powers in the first movie. It’s called development. And don’t force a love story down our friggin necks. Here:

    1-He can’t learn to fly in the first movie. Give it time, he’s got friggin amazing powers, let him grow into each one.
    2-He can’t reveal to anyone except his parents who he is. Save some plot for when it’s ready maybe?
    3-We get no clues about what happened on his home planet til the second or third movie
    -this is esp irritating. Everything on his home planet could have been milked for many movies.
    It could help him learn more about himself and his powers.
    4-EXPLAIN his powers. what do fanboys love? Explanations about the nuances. How strong is he? How fast is he? Heck even non-fanboys find it easier to swallow if it at least makes sense. It lets you create the world of your choosing and then you can bring out the superhero’s limitations or at least current limitations.

    5-No overbearing love story. Hell, make him lose someone he’s romantically into in the first movie. This will frame how he views getting too close to people and set the ground for a more developed and richer love story with Louis AFTER he starts working at the bugle. I mean all that’s left is cold breath for him. Pretty soon you’ll run into the same problem all badly done superhero movies run into. What do we do next? Let’s make up a new power! And create some new enemy out of our ass because well, we already make supes overwhelmingly strong by opening the 2nd movie. development. development. development. Don’t they teach that at movie school???

    Look overall, you had me at the title and lost me at the movie. It absolutely sucked. I’m not one to normally say this but I want my time back. Keep the money, but give me my time back. You made a D- quality movie off a A+ quality idea.

  • Kilroy

    In my opinion, most of your “things that make no sense” NEVER made any sense in the entire incarnation of Superman. So what’s your beef? That’s why Superman in my opinion has always been a weak character.

    As far as instantaneous communication with all Kryptonian vessels, not sure what they were thinking but does it matter in the face of the entire mythos of…SUPERMAN? But I can think of a dozen from miniblackholes to paired particles. Aw, you’re a comic fanboy, not a Trekker, so it would take too long to explain.

    • spirit equality

      My beef is Goyer went on and on about how *this* incarnation of Superman would be “realistic”, but he never attempted to modify or explain the less realistic aspects of Superman’s story. I say clearly in the piece that Superman’s entire origin story, as we’ve known it for decades, is ill-suited for “gritty and realistic” updates. You’d have to completely re-work the origin story to do that and Goyer barely made any effort at all towards that end, despite his claims to the contrary. Apparently, to Goyer, killing people makes a movie realistic no matter how fantastic and/or absurd the rest of the story is.

    • spirit equality

      Wait, are you trying to imply that Star Trek fans are somehow inherently more intelligent than comic book fans? That argument is absurd on its face.

  • Paul

    This whole article is a load of shit, you are nip picking at stupid facts which you could do with any film. You Sir are just a comic fanboy, go read your comics……

    • DJ BenHaMeen

      movie is still pretty bad but nice aol name.

  • BusterCherry

    Bro you didn’t even mention how superman let jonathan kent die in that tornado storm, just so like 10 people don’t realize who he is….

  • You idiot in the comics and animated series his parents die and they dont have time to make another

  • jaime

    Maybe by having that rock fused into his genes at the begining of the film changed what he was programmed to be from a scientist to a mix of every living soul on kripton. That plus a benefit of a diferent atmosphere and gravity on earth developed his powers that otherwise would have reminded unknown. Still the movie wasnt great. 6.5/10 for me

  • Dennis Studer

    You apparently only watched 3 episodes of Smallville. It’s mentioned Lionel gave him the identity and took care of everything while making up an orphanage. The guy was loaded he had this power.

    so in turn he got a job because he did have a background given by Lionel (not much time to explain in a movie)

    you can’t pick on his disguise because that’s always been a superman thing. You might as well pick on that from day one.

    He can’t break Zod’s arms and legs because Zod can move with his other limbs? Is this really what pisses you off? It’s harder to escape a choke hold then someone holding your arm.

    • Darren Hood

      He never said that he’s picking on the disguise, he’s simply pointing out how flawed it was for the film to expose Superman to Perry White, yet when he shows up for work later on, doesnt at all seem to recognize the man behind the glasses. In a fantasy environment, we can believe that Clark can fool others into believing he and Superman are two different people, yet it’s hard to stomach that in this gritty realistic setting that Perry White a very intelligent editor in chief for Metropolis’ leading newspaper cannot see through the disguise right away. It’s insulting. Superman 78 did it best, show off Clark as the meek timid reporter first so when he arrives as Superman and can do all these great and fantastic things, those who know Clark wouldn’t immediately suspect it because he’s a frail and mild mannered person who wouldn’t think to put up a fight.

    • D0S81

      smallville and the man of steel are differnt continuitys/earths, so while it explains it in smallville, it doeants really work here. i dont think they spent enough time on his upbringing in this film, the flashbacks where a shit way of doing it, especially as how it is his upbringing that makes him the person he is, and is probably the most important part of his life, yet they did it in flashbacks.

  • Darren Hood

    Got another one for you. Why did Jonathan Kent send off the command key to the University for research and analysis? Doesn’t he already have a damn spacecraft in his barn to tell him that his son isn’t exactly human? It’s a wonder he got it back. Wouldn’t the researchers have the obligation to report non earthen materials for further study, and perhaps a large grant would come from it as a reward. It’s amazing that CIA blackhawk helicopters did not touch down in Smallville to take the boy. By doing what he did, Mr. Kent jeopardized the safety of his son far more than a simple bus salvage. Looking back at it, Jonathan Kent wasn’t a very bright person.

  • Ralph Krolczyk

    Really!? This article has to be a joke right? All these questions have answers to them, you just have to think about it and plus it’s just a movie. For whomever wants to see a list answering all the questions just tell me and I’ll post them.

  • ephraimf

    Not even 10 seconds into the movie it made no sense to me why they had to show the birth, his mother screaming, and having to explain it to my kid. What was the point?

  • Riccardo Felice

    What a stupid post… geez

  • BarackObama

    pretty sure Uncle Costner could have figured out a way to get a kid in on a fake SSN over the years. It is not like that has never happened.