I bet whenever audiences finished watching Antoine Fuqua’s thriller Olympus Has Fallen earlier this year, they thought surely they had seen the most violent film of the year, at least one that isn’t a terrible cheapo horror movie. But then Zack Snyder unleashed his demolition fetish with Man of Steel, and viewers wondered what kind of a superhero would destroy so much in the name of justice. It ranks up there with the most destructive films ever, but it wasn’t just a random choice, as Snyder told The Japan Times during a promotional trip. He aimed to fit this movie in with all the great mythologies where loads of people died all the time. So you see? It makes perfect sense. At least it would if Superman were in fact an evil dictator.
“I wanted the movie to have a mythological feeling,” he explained. “In ancient mythology, mass deaths are used to symbolize disasters. In other countries like Greece and Japan, myths were recounted through the generations, party to answer unanswerable questions about death and violence. In America, we don’t have the legacy of ancient mythology. Superman is probably the closest we get. It’s a way of recounting the myth.”
Taken out of context, that sounds like a fine explanation. But let’s be real here. A lot of old myths were incredibly imaginative and slightly insane, and metaphors abound. The mass deaths weren’t caused by superheroes punching their enemies through load-bearing walls in skyscrapers, causing them to collapse with everyone still inside of them, blissfully unaware that they’re never going home again.
A couple of months ago, Buzzfeed and Watson Technical Consulting analyzed the damage done to Metropolis and gave it real world statistics. When all is said and done, over 129,000 people would be dead and nearly a million would be injured, not to mention the 250,000 that it would take days to find. The total damage would cost the city over $2 trillion dollars by the time things settled down.
One has to wonder-- and Snyder himself has wondered-- how the ante will be upped or matched whenever Batman joins the sequel. Christopher Nolan’s films, or any of the Batman movies, were violent up to a point, but usually through hand-to-hand combat. Man of Steel 2 will have to involve a game of football played with an actual nuclear football in order to come close. But all is fair in mythology and war.
The rest of Snyder’s interview is pretty interesting, as he talks about how directing commercials helped set his cinematic vision, and that America breeds people to believe that individuality is everything. But we were more interested in him trying to justify turning Superman into an incidental murderer.
Man of Steel, which has grossed almost $650 million globally, will be hitting Blu-ray and DVD in November.