Freelance Journalist


Goyer Rules!

"We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial. It's not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren't just doing it to be cool. We felt, in the case of Zod, we wanted to put the character in an impossible situation and make an impossible choice. This is one area, and I've written comic books as well and this is where I disagree with some of my fellow comic book writers - 'Superman doesn't kill'. It's a rule that exists outside of the narrative and I just don't believe in rules like that. I believe when you're writing film or television, you can't rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film. So the situation was, Zod says 'I'm not going to stop until you kill me or I kill you.' The reality is no prison on the planet could hold him and in our film Superman can't fly to the moon, and we didn't want to come up with that crutch. Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he's not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he's Superman and because people idolise him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard."

That's David S. Goyer, story/screen writer of Man of Steel (and the soon to be released Batfleck Vs. Supercavill) speaking at a BAFTA and BFI screenwriter's event. 

Now, that's fucking depressing coming from a guy who's handling both Superman AND Batman. The most irritating aspects of this quote are the blatantly hollow justifications of some clearly dumb creative choices (of which there are many in Man of Steel) and the terrible insight into Goyer's writing process it provides.

Albeit, I do love the irony of claiming you're not deluding yourself then very clearly deluding yourself. 

"I don't believe in rules like that".

I'm sorry Goyer, but that's bollocks. Just because it isn't explicitly detailed in the comics, doesn't mean they don't apply to the inception and ethos of the character, man. It doesn't mean you can liberally apply your own shallow semblance of a superhero impasse wherever you're ignoring popular perception of the character, even if you are attempting his 'reinvention'. The crux (crutch?) of Superman's existence relies on his being able to elevate himself above the cesspool of human fallibility; of murder. He is perceived as infallible because he makes the right choice, the just choice, no matter the situation. Therein lies your classic Kal El/Clark Kent/Superman moral quandary - the archetypal superhero dilemma - yet one wasted on Goyer's bender of power-induced inebriation. 

Forgetting the cringeworthy Batman reference and the farcical conundrum of not being able to fly to the moon, (would the moon be an effective Kryptonian prison anyway?), at what point in Man of Steel does any civilian actually idolise him? And what reason would they have to do so moving forward? He's treated with xenophobic caution upon the revelation that he's an alien and after destroying Metropolis in petulant fisticuffs, he's not really viewed in a more benevolent light from then on. If the film was supposed to set up a universe, it shouldn't be one in which Superman has to learn not to murder people, because what would be the point of his moral code at all? It's not a moral choice if you're deciding against murdering - 'holding yourself to a higher standard' - just because people look up to you. Isn't murder generally viewed as one of those basic, unalterable human beliefs anyway?

Nope, wait, that rule exists outside the comics. Goyer plays by his own rules. And his rules seem to entail creating impossible situations for incongruous emotional thrills and working backwards while ignoring the logic and ethos of the material he's plundering.

It's no surprise really. Goyer's script eschewed Superman's moral code entirely from Man of Steel in favour of more outlandish and unconvincing scenarios. General Zod's death was just a taste of Goyer's complete lack of respect for the original comics and his defence, "I've written comic books as well", doesn't quite justify altering the essence of the character. 

That isn't what Christopher Nolan did with the Dark Knight trilogy. His was a reinterpretation of the Batman legend, sure, but he clung to the fundamental elements of Bruce Wayne and instead updated the world around him. On paper, the moral quandary of Superman is making the choice whether or not to devote his life to helping humans; whether he can hold himself to the moral codes that no one else does. Goyer seemed to have been building towards something of this sort, but you never really get emotional satisfaction in Man of Steel as we never see Superman in the grips of an ethical dilemma. At all. He's either helping seamen from a burning oil rig without a second's hesitation, or he's haphazardly collapsing buildings and presumably murdering thousands of the innocent people. That or impaling some disrespecting redneck's truck on a few power poles. That controversial building-murdering stand-off at the end of the film is symptomatic of Goyer's misguided tactic of filling out the character, then contradicting him in favour of spectacle.

It might just come down to a lack of finesse. Man of Steel was never really Superman. He wasn't the filmic Superman we're familiar with, circa Christopher Reeve in 1978, nor is he a superhero reinvented, a la Batman Begins

But at least we now know why that's the case. 

And in light of the news that Goyer is now involved in the coming DC universe films:

SOURCE - A.V. Club