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Killing in the Nolan Multiverse

As Christopher Nolan has re-imagined DC's greatest heroes, matters of life and death have gained a fresh maturity.

by
Walter Hudson

Bio

June 28, 2013 - 7:00 am
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man-steel

Whether it was intentional or not, Nolan’s D.C. superhero multiverse presents a mature consideration of when we may morally take a life. The conclusion offered abides by the widely accepted use of force continuum employed by law enforcement. Put simply, you should never bring a knife to a gunfight. When defending yourself or others, a level of force greater than that encountered is required. At the point where you encounter a potentially lethal threat, deadly force becomes justified. To cap your response, to say you will not kill, is to concede any encounter to an assailant who will.

Superman chooses to kill Zod for that very reason. The alien general, deprived of his genetically encoded purpose for living, seeks revenge upon the people of Earth. At the climax, while the two Kryptonians grapple, Zod strikes out with his otherworldly power in a sincere effort to murder a family. No ambiguity exists in that moment. The family will die or Zod will.

Superman’s choice takes on added weight when we consider his broader dilemma throughout the film, a choice between the world of his birth and this one he has adopted. The fact that Superman was born unique among his race, free to craft his own destiny in defiance of several generations of genetic predisposition, takes on great significance in the moment he chooses to protect human beings at the expense of Krypton’s remnant. Far from calling into question his heroism, the choice to kill defines it.

In a time when the death penalty has become increasingly unpopular, and the notion of self-defense and Second Amendment rights in particular languish under fire, it is refreshing to encounter an affirmation of the right to protect innocent life in a summer blockbuster. Christopher Nolan and company have intelligently woven legitimate moral principles into popcorn entertainment without coming off as preachy. Here’s hoping the trend will continue as the Man of Steel universe expands in sequels and other DC Comics properties.

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Walter Hudson advocates for individual rights, serving on the boards of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Minnesota, Minnesota Majority and the Minority Liberty Alliance. He maintains a blog and daily podcast entitled Fightin Words. He also contributes to True North, a hub of conservative Minnesotan commentary, and regularly appears on the Twin Cities News Talk Weekend Roundtable on KTCN AM 1130. Follow his work via Twitter and Facebook.

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All Comments   (11)
All Comments   (11)
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1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I'd be willing to cut Superman more slack over killing Zod if he hadn't shown such reckless disregard for human lives all through that final battle. He never makes any attempt to move the fight to a less populated area and does things that have to have caused thousands, if not tens of thousands, of innocent deaths.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That was a very powerful scene and it also provided a great teaching moment for my teenage son who was right beside me.
Like any real hero, Clark Kent hated what he had to do - take someone's life - but he did not back down and did what he had to do to protect many more innocent lives. No moral person takes joy in destroying evil, but it has to be done.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Yep, keep supporting those leftists! They need our money to keep up their work of destroying America!

Hypocrites.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Christopher Nolan: Closet conservative.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Wish he didn't donate to Obama, though...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That may demonstrate that he's so far in the closet as to elude even himself.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Many of us have been one of those.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
As Christopher Nolan has re-imagined DC’s greatest heroes . . .
DC's heroes? Oh, you mean the comic books! Whew, for a moment there I thought you meant there are "heroes" in Washington, DC.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, then comics in 1940 were mature, cuz other than using a gun in one of the earliest Batman stories, he swore off such things and didn't kill. That's not Nolan. And even if it was, his moves are so lifeless I wouldn't care. His Batman films make money for reasons completely beyond me.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
They're entertaining, engaging, and stand on actual values.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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