Thursday, June 27, 2013

In Defense of General Zod

I realize that the Superman universe is built on decades of comic lore, but when I discuss this movie it will be only within the context of the movie world itself. Also, lots of spoilers below.

Superman: Man of Steel

At the beginning of the movie we are introduced to the people of Krypton. We discover that their children are genetically created for one of three paths: warrior, laborer, or scientist. These blood lines dictate the lives they will live and the training they will receive.

We also learn that the council that rules has been exploiting the natural resources of their planet to the point that the core is unstable. The result will be the destruction of the entire planet and the death of everyone and thing that lives on it.  The council refuses to believe they are in any danger, or to create any sort of backup plan in case things go south. Either they are completely incompetent, or really psychotic.

...I'd say mostly psychotic

There are two men who know for 100% certain the world will be coming to an end. The first one leads a coup, attempting to overthrow his government. He hopes to help at least some of his people flee, and regrow their population on a safe planet. The second man warns the government of the danger, but does nothing to stop them. He does not create an escape plan for any of his people, or attempt to help them evacuate. He instead has an illegal child, steals his people DNA, and shoots the baby and the DNA off into space without leaving the child instructions on how to grow Krypton babies, or with any alien tech to help him do this.

"My son is the only citizen of my planet who deserves to live. Because he is alien Jesus."
That second guy is the one we're supposed to be rooting for. Seriously. Why?

Why are we supposed to view General Zod as a villain in this scene? 
Jor-El tells the audience that Zod is a bad guy, contrary to the evidence in front of us. Jor-El is angry that Zod is trying to overthrow the council, and killed some of them. Despite the fact that the council is going to kill every single one of it's civilians. I'm not defending military takeovers of government in general, but a warrior run government on Krypton could literally not be worse then their current one. Because, just to reiterate, the current government is going to KILL EVERYONE.

"My dark gothic costume and dour demeanor makes me seem more evil then my actions would imply." 
The second reason Jor-El gives the audience for why we shouldn't like Zod is by implying that Zod would only let certain blood lines live (?) It's a little unclear what Jor-El means by this.

Is he just angry about the three blood line policy?
No, because he puts the DNA of his people in his son, and those new Krypton babies would be part of the traditional blood lines.

Perhaps he thinks General Zod would only let the warrior babies be born?
But again, there is no reason to believe this. When Zod says that he will take the DNA out of superman's dead body, he doesn't go on to say "and then only make warriors." He is very insistent about saving all his people. He also invites Jor-El to join him, and Jor-El is a scientist. Plus Zod might lack empathy, but he's not an idiot he would need scientists and laborers to rebuild society.

I would also like to point out that General Zod did not create the three blood line policy, he just a product of it. It has been going on for generations, and is no doubt enforced and promoted by the council. Why is Jor-El not angry at the council for this? Who knows. It also seems that Jor-El and his wife are the only people on Krypton who have an issue with the birthing policies.

Can I also point out the irony of Jor-El being all high and mighty about "corrupt" General Zod trying to have his coup, and then immediately (in the very next scene) Jor-El steals his peoples DNA and puts it in his illegally conceived child. WTF.

"Remind me again why I have to have a no drugs, natural-birth, when we're planning on genetically imbedding the codex into the baby after he's born?"

Krypton totally has these. They cut off contact with their colony planets ages ago, but as far as anyone knows these planets are still inhabited. The only reason we the viewer learn that they are not, is because once Zod and his crew get free they fly to each of the colonies looking for people (which was probably his plan to begin with, and a far more practical plan then Jor-Els).

So, just to outline some things:
  • On Krypton they have the ability to send space ships through black holes within seconds
  • It is so easy to hack a "utility ship" like a prison ship, and make it fully functional, that even a crew of only warrior blood line (untrained and not genetically made for science) can do it
  • This crew of warriors is able to find enough food and resources to survive on there own for 30 years
  • As far as everyone on Krypton knows, there are colonies full of resources and people living within an easy traveling distance
Why didn't Jor-El have a plan to help his people escape through a black hole? Why didn't Jor-El retrofit some spaceships? Why didn't Jor-El try and save his people?

"I could have helped my people escape on some of those ships back there, but I'd rather spend my time making a baby with my wife the old-fashioned way."

Also, why did the colonies all die? I can't help but want to chalk that up to some more of the Krypton governments total incompetence.

why can't they re-terraform an old colony planet? Why can't they terraform mars? The implication seems to be that it has to be a water filled "living planet." Which would mean that every one of those colonies was wiping out indigenous species. Did Jor-El have any moral quandaries on that? Which leads me to my next point:

What was Jor-El's plan for repopulation?
He gives his son no instructions on how to regrow the Krypton population. But Jor-El is a scientist, he's a smart guy (or he pretends to be), he must have realized that there was a good chance the planet would have to be terraformed to be inhabited by his people. But even if he was absolutely sure that they wouldn't have to terraform, where are all of those aliens supposed to live on Earth? He must have realized that massive increase of population in of itself would be destructive to the planet and it's people.

Last, but not least the only reason General Zod finds Earth is because Superman sends out a signal leading him there. It was never his plan to go to Earth, he didn't know it existed, and he clearly states he never would have found it on his own.

In defense of General Zod, he might kill people on occasion, but he comes off as a far more practical and sympathetic character then Jor-El. You, know, the guy who uploaded his spirit with technology but didn't care enough about his wife to teach her how to do the same.

The one good thing that can be said for Jor-El is he seemed like less of a sociopath then Superman's Earth dad.

"I'm going to commit suicide in the most traumatizing way possible, because you didn't let a bus full of children die." 

End Rant/

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