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When Clark Kent first became Superman in Man of Steel, he almost immediately afterward had to stop the Kryptonian rebels from terraforming Earth into a new Krypton and prevent General Zod from killing more humans when that first plan fell through. Yeah, it’s a lot to deal with the first day on the job. Although Superman was successful in both objectives, his battle with Zod resulted in massive destruction across Metropolis. While there’s still fierce debate about whether he could have done more to lessen the casualties, Henry Cavill has a good excuse for why things went down the way they did.
Although he believes that the idea of Superman dealing with collateral damage was part of the "master plan" for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Henry Cavill told EW that Superman’s inexperience was the main reason why he couldn’t save everyone or limit the destruction in Man of Steel. In the actor’s words:
Let’s say now, [if] Superman has the same threat again, that’s a different story. He would, of course, bring collateral damage to an absolute minimum, but in that, he’s just trying to survive because if he doesn’t, the planet’s gone. That’s the excuse I make for Superman. He’s fresh and he’s new, and it’s very easy to point out the faults in someone after they’ve done it, but put yourself in their shoes and see what happens.
Henry Cavill has a point, to a degree. Although Clark had used his most of his powers before the first DCEU entry began, he had never used them in combat. Plus, he had only learned to fly a couple days before. On top of being the only one being capable of fighting these Kryptonian criminals directly, there was a lot riding on him to save the world. That meant dedicating more attention to defeat Zod, since obviously the general wasn’t going to show any mercy to the humans.
Still, some will argue that Superman could have done more to limit casualties, at least with making sure not as many buildings toppled over. No doubt if he could go back in time, Superman would try to do things differently, but he has to live with his actions on that day, for better or worse.
When Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice kicks off, moviegoers will see a Superman who’s more experienced at being a superhero, but the destruction unleashed across Metropolis isn’t being swept under the rug. Since Zod’s neck was snapped and he’s now a corpse being experimented on inside Lexcorp, that leaves Superman as the only one to answer for the events of Man of Steel. On top of a good portion of the population being afraid of him, various previews and photos show him being hounded by the media and having to appear in front of a Senate investigative committee- and from what we’ve seen, it doesn’t go well.
As for whether Superman would handle a similar threat differently, he’ll get a chance to prove that in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Aside from throwing down in fisticuffs with Batman, he’ll also have to deal with Doomsday towards the climax of the movie. Fortunately, he’ll have the Caped Crusader and Wonder Woman by his side this time around, and between the three of them, maybe they can make sure Metropolis doesn't look like a post-apocalyptic landscape again.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice arrives in theaters on March 25.