50 – Endgame

coverblackRecorded January 27th.  “I don’t know how to lose.”  Sports and football in these films and how it informs Clark’s character.  Issues with Lex’s endgame and how it reflects his psychology.  Learning how to lose.

Answers, insights, and commentary on:

  • I. Sports
  • Sports as a part of culture
  • Is Clark a sports fan?  The cliché versus the evidence
  • Qualifications of a sports writer
  • Priorities over fandom, diversions, and leisure
  • How does Clark view sports given his abilities?
  • Is Zack Snyder a sports fan?
  • What was the Metropolis State vs. Gotham City fight about?
  • The Quarterback Kneel controversy
  • What does that controversy illustrate?
  • II. Lex’s Endgame
  • Was Lex just a fanatic in the end?
  • Lex’s doomsday perspective and plan
  • Why the Doomsday plan has holes
  • Lex putting his life at risk to Superman, military response, and Doomsday
  • Why Lex uses his blood to create Doomsday
  • Why Lex doesn’t try to get away with his endgame
  • The Origin of Lex Luthor
  • Lex has hope in his last scene
  • III. Losing
  • Illustrating a few principles
    • For anyone trying, failure is inevitable not identity
    • Embrace iteration instead of a God Complex
    • Review your endgame and have others check it
    • Persistence and resilience
  • Expect setbacks, embrace the journey with patience, anticipate tomorrow hopefully
  • UCLA Coach John Wooden

Examples of Superman lacking omniscience:

  • Lois can’t get information to him in time
  • Lois can’t find him after the bombing
  • Lois can’t summon him at will in Nairomi
  • Lois can hide the bullet from him
  • Lois doesn’t whisper under her breath behind the barricade
  • Lois doesn’t call out for him on the helipad
  • Lois is surprised that he catches her
  • Lois explicitly says he couldn’t see the bomb
  • Lois uncovers the plot he didn’t know
  • Martha doesn’t cry for him while kidnapped
  • Martha doesn’t scream for him in the warehouse
  • Lex knows he can kidnap Lois & Martha
  • Lex knows he can keep them from Superman’s senses
  • Batman relies on the element of surprise in his attacks
  • Clark learns of the hearings from Lois
  • Clark learns of Kahina and Keefe from the news
  • Clark learns of the factory fire from the news
  • Clark learns of the Batman’s brutality from the news
  • Clark learns what the talking heads are saying from the news
  • Superman demands to know “Where is she?”

To learn more:
Sports Fan Polling | Gallup
How Obsessive are Sports Fans | CBS
An Egghead’s Guide to the Super Bowl | Freakonomics
Nerds & Jocks Think They’re The Underdog | CollegeHumor
Sportsmanship: What’s Expected In Football | NPR
Cam is Superman, Snyder Interview | AOL
Ruby-Spears Superman | CBS
The Power and the Glory | NFL Films
Wicked problem | Wikipedia
John Wooden | Wikipedia
Such A Loser | Garfunkel & Oates

Web: ManOfSteelAnswers.com
Twitter: @mosanswers
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Proud member of the Superman Podcast Network!

Another three-parter released as one episode.  Enjoy Super Bowl Sunday.

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28 Comments

  1. Yes. Thanks for your hard work Doc. I have a long drive this weekend so plenty of time to digest this three-in-one episode. How’s everything going with you lately? I hope you have enough time to give us 1 episode each month or 1 every two months. Have you considered doing a Patreon? I would be the first in line to support you.

    • Thanks! Things are great, if busy… less travel but up another gear in terms of responsibilities, time, effort, attention, etc… haven’t really settled into it being normal yet, but I know I’ll get there. I can’t really give a production estimate until things are normal enough to know, but the ideal goal is 1 episode every 2-3 weeks when it’s been closer to every 2 months. I have not seriously considered Patreon, but I appreciate the support.

  2. It’s so good to hear from you again Doctor! I’m glad you could find the time to make this for us, I know I can say it was worth the wait.

    • Thanks for listening and the kind words. I didn’t really find the time so much as it was imposed upon me… options limited while sick, hah. Definitely hope to find time in the near future though.

  3. I haven’t listened yet, but you’re back baby. Yeah!

  4. I’ll get into Lex theories after, but for now, I have no doubt your final point was a commentary on this increased negativity shown across the web, in particular, to the DCEU. It greatly disappoints me that the intelligent and incredibly well thought out universe is washed aside and the consensus is to make it simpler and palatable to the masses. And one hopes the creative team if Snyder and Terrio hold their vision.

    • In broad strokes, yeah, I guess you should expect growing pains on any venture and it’s applicable in that sense… I wasn’t really thinking of it in those terms though. TBH the initial inspiration was Ayer’s candid comment, regrets, and gratitude. I probably could have forced a parallel to hold him up as a model example, but I sort of forgot about it and just went with what was coming out… plus, I wouldn’t really characterize SS as a failure and regret is its own entity / issue / analysis that I didn’t want to conflate with failure… so I guess I unconsciously decoupled Ayer’s comment from the show even if there’s some overlap.

      In general terms, I admire Ayer reflecting and then moving on with gratitude, I definitely appreciate that and hope it goes well with his next films.

      The entire thing was basically recorded before the Affleck news and I seriously thought about not releasing it or tweaking it to address that situation more directly, but left it alone in the end. I think it still applies, even if not directly. I don’t characterize BvS or Live By Night as failures, or stepping back as quitting, but you could call it iteration, trying a different mix of responsibilities, etc.

      • I personally don’t consider the Affleck news as negative news. I think that it was obvious from the get go that starring, co-writing AND directing would’ve been heavily burdening, so it was obvious he would eventually step down from directing to give himself more air to breathe, plus he will obviously have an enormous influence on whoever lands as the director. People in the internet just love to blow stuff out of proportion.

        And speaking of which, I heard that there’s a fan petition going on requesting for Zack Snyder to direct the solo Batman film. I don’t know how others feel but I personally think it would be kinda fitting, since at the end of the day Snyder would have directed a Superman film, a Batman film, a crossover between the two and eventually (if their original plan still stands) 2 Justice League films. Those are just my thoughts, though.

      • Affleck stepping down as a director isn´t bad news to me, as long as we get a good replacement, so i view this as an opportunity. He has good reason to “just”, act produce and co-write the film too, as he was working non-stop since Gone Girl, besides his family situation.
        I frankly didn´t care too much when i heard. Having Terrio working over the script is another positive.
        Affleck can´t quit the DCEU prematurely either, as that would 100% kill the franchise and even damage his career / standing with future financiers. It´s the Flash WB undeniably ran into serious trouble with. Not much to sugar coat here but Aquaman is powering though and i 100% support a Black Adam film set in ancient Egypt. Or any of the Squad spin-offs.

        Live by Night is ok, certainly his “worst” film due to its unengaging nature (dat cinematography though!), but it undeniably pushed Affleck to his breaking point. Especially the way it was treated by the media. Still, he saw worse things happen to him during his career and even the best directors stumble. The show will go on and this will make him hungry to regain his full prestige in the future.

  5. Doc, so you’ve always contended that once Lex enters the scout ship he asks about life beyond that could come to Earth, and once Lex learns of the cosmic threat everything changes for him. I agree. In terms of the timeline, for you, this happens before DD is created, or at least before DD is given life. I always thought the communion scene is where he learns about Darkseid which occurs after DD is off head butting a nuke.
    Hear me out. Lex’s crisis comes from feeling powerless by the existence of Superman, born from his father’s abuse wrapped in religious overtones. Lex geta angry, and copes by learning, exceeding his father’s knowledge and placing himself above his father. But that doesn’t stop the abuse. The abuse stops only at his father’s death, but not without Lex exposing his lie first, hinted in the pre-movie interviews, the interviewer refers to Alexander Snr as “vicious” so his clean public image has been wxposed at some point. Lex plots, executes, and gets away with murdering his father. He repeats the same behaviour when Superman arrives.
    He learns in order to cope, places himself above Superman, plans to expose his lie, and then plans to kill him and get away with it. Hence I believe he did plan to get away once DD is unleashed in that he was going to work with the government with some krypronite he still retained, in order to kill DD, his silver bullet theory. If the scout ship offers him nothing then he wouldn’t be able to resolve his crisis without Kryptonite. DD is a guarantee that he exposes the lie and kills Superman, simply a better plan tham relying on the government willing to partake in killing Superman who Lex recognises as good and likely able to sort out any differences between them. This then completes the resolution of his crisis and affirms his power needs of being placed above all men.
    What changes is the cosmic answers, which comes next, communion. That changes everything. DD is now irrelevant, and Lex falls into the third major crisis of his life.
    So under my theory, Lex was planning to get away with DD being released with a method to kill him and he gets what he wants, affirmed position above mankind where he has already placed himself, but desires it to be affirmed. In my theory it’s how he resolves the abuse as a child that matters, because that informs how “winning” there confirms repeated behaviour as an adult when faced with an identical crisis.

    • As I disclaimed my analysis with at the start, a lot of what surrounds Lex is ambiguous and subjective, so I definitely do not want to insist that my interpretation is definitive. I definitely had to make adjustments from the Theatrical Cut to the Ultimate Edition because certain tools are canonized (ordering the deaths of people, etc) and Communion is now in-film and the Batman interaction is longer, etc. So, I won’t pretend to be certain, but my interpretation is meant to answer a line of diegetic questions pertaining to deficiencies in Lex’s plan… namely the likelihood of his own death, the likelihood of being caught, and the failure to stem multiple consequences or seek retaliation.

      While I’m not certain of my interpretation, that interpretation does answer all of those questions. Note that answering those questions are not criteria for a good / bad / likely / unlikely / intended / unintended theory… rather answering those questions is kind of the point of the podcast- answering questions, even tenuously- and what personally satisfies me in terms of having logical consistency versus plot holes (again, plot holes not necessarily being a definitive metric for whether a film is good or bad).

      Unless I misunderstand your interpretation, I think your theory is possible, could be intended, could be likely, could be good… but also doesn’t answer those questions and seems to leave them open as potential plot holes.

      The idea that Lex has plans or purposes afterwards seem undermined by the fact that Superman could instantly kill him or instantly arrest him. The fact Doomsday arises almost directly in reaction to Lex’s newfound access to the ship, the disappearance of the body he’s responsible for, and in accordance with his visit to the ship make it almost impossible to disclaim responsibility or pin it on Superman (especially given that Superman would- and as intended to- fight Doomsday). Lex makes no moves against Lois to get away with the bombing and makes no moves to work with the government to kill Doomsday. Why would he be in the ship still communing if his next act was supposed to be coordinating a strike with the Gov’t against Doomsday? Moreover how was Lex supposed to explain the sudden availability of enough Kryptonite to weaponize against Doomsday? His import license was revoked, he’s not supposed to have Kryptonite legally in this country! If he pulls it out, that’s already another admission of crime.

      Again, I’m not saying that might not be the correct interpretation, the intended one, or even the better one… but insofar as answering plot holes, I don’t think there’s strong indication that Lex had effective plans for surviving Doomsday or getting away with unleashing him… so my approach is to come up with an interpretation that addresses that.

  6. Thank you so much for coming back and present this amazing episode. Your understanding of Lex Luthor finally got me in this one. May come back with more thought after a relistening.Thank you again for everything!

  7. Post Crisis and TAS Superman played high school football too, due to the film i guess, but i also don´t think that the DCEU version did. I can´t say that i care about sports at all but Friday Night Lights was a good show.

    How Lex will stand on the arrival of Darkseid is a good questions, he is even the new lord of Apokolips in the comics, but i don´t think it can be answers without further development.
    Higher beings as an actual god emperor, or the Lex created version of Doomsday (even Snyder said that this isn´t the “real” one) fit his world view of power, so he might bow down or be willing to be bested / killed by a superior being, but he is also arrogant enough to oppose such forces. We will see.
    The Anti-Life Equation should hopefully play a part in al of this. It´s not the most GA friendly concept but neither are the comic version of the Infinity Stones.

    PS: Watch the new JLD toon film. It´s the best N52 film to date (Batman vs Robin is the other good one) and a good primer for that film. 8,5/10

  8. One point I hadn’t considered that deeply that you made very well, is that Superman actually puts Lex on a redemption path. Bruce, Diana, and humanity are shown quite clearly, but you’re right, when you think about Lex in the jail scene, he is acting and behaving like himself again. He is exerting his power over Bruce through knowledge again and is becoming purposeful once more.
    He is still slightly unhinged but the real Lex is on his way back. He sees himself above men, and perhaps he now is formulating a way to use the impending cosmic invasion and the power of the metas to raise himself above the others. This may even include the resurrection of Superman.

  9. So great to have another superb episode from you, Doc!
    Could you please give me your opinion on a popular (and annoying) anti-BvS complaint that I keep coming across? Some people claim to have been cheated by the movie, as they insist that the trailers and previous movie scenes in BvS set up a very different Batman vs Superman fight – one at the core of which would be the clash of Batman and Superman’s opposing methods and ideologies, while instead (according to these haters) what we actually get is only Batman’s goal for fighting remaining consistent, while Superman’s implied threat of coming for Batman (if the latter ignored his warning) never being realized, and instead being supplanted by a plot device, that makes him not want to truly fight Batman anymore.

    • That’s a misconception actually mainly because people don’t think about the nature of the fight yet the answer is really clear once one thinks about it. Batman has deemed Superman a threat: Judge, determined his sentence: Jury, and is about to carry it out: executioner. Batman’s whole reasons for fighting Superman personifies why Superman is against him in the first place. Now let’s look at Superman’s side, Lex has used Martha to bend Superman to his will and make him kill Batman. Batman’s whole issue with Superman is that he fears he could eventually be corrupted which is exactly what Lex just did, if Superman kills Batman than Bruce was right about him.

      The fight culminates the entire conflict between them if Batman kills Superman then Clark was right about him while if Superman kills Batman Bruce was right to be afraid. To have both fight without any leverage from Lex requires Superman to think Batman needs to be stopped at all cause which means either Batman crosses a line or lex frames him for something he didn’t do. The first removes the debate since Superman is right if Batman crosses the line while the other is pretty much the same scenario only with less depth since Superman doesn’t have the moral struggle he did with Martha.

    • Thanks for listening and the kind words.

      The issue raised is a little multifaceted. I’d concede that I was personally expecting something different from the fight, but I would counter that those expectations weren’t actually driven by the marketing but mostly by ourselves. A lot of it boils down to where you expect them to be as characters going into the film. If they’re both superheroes, established, and with set and known methods and ideologies… then that is the kind of conflict you’d expect. However, I think the film makes it clear Superman is still somewhat green in interacting with the world, Batman is lost, and they literally do not know what a “superhero” is in this world even as a term up to the final funeral.

      In THAT setting, the fight avoids locking the characters into cartoonish caricatures too early in the life of a cinematic universe. It would be absurd to insist upon Batman as the one who crosses the line when there is no line in real-life or in this world yet… without the rules of the superhero, it’d be a trite and hollow conflict for Superman to condemn Batman for crossing the lines of that undefined superhero concept. Likewise it would be absurd for Batman to condemn Superman for too formal a following of superhero rules before anyone knows those rules. So instead, it very much revolved around power, humanity, and the world… and that was probably the right decisions for the story even if not necessarily a universal crowd-pleaser. I very much appreciate that they didn’t just handwave that and have Superman declare and insist upon the definition of superhero, that everyone had to follow and adhere to henceforth without cost and off-screen… instead they really grapple with what it means to be a public figure and what it costs to set a new standard / expectation for everyone.

      • Nice answer Dr,

        I think you are right about the fault is mostly lies on preconceptions and the fans expectations on what they expect from batman and superman movie. Many people complaint that batman should not be killing in the movie but like you said in the DCEU universe, superhero concept is not existed yet or have not even formed yet. There are no superhero rules that are being established in the current BvS movie. So it make sense that batman do not have clear defined no kill rules because like you said, perhaps batman in BvS at the moment is not yet the superhero or the superhero that every fans expect of him since the superhero concept or the superhero rules are not yet established or formed in that universe.

        Nice insight there. I haven thought of it. Although I don think this kind of answer will find it acceptable among the hardcore fans who are very insist on the particular interpretations of the DC character

        • ” I don think this kind of answer will find it acceptable among the hardcore fans who are very insist on the particular interpretations of the DC character”

          I can tell you by personal experience that not a single type of answer will sway away those you speak about. I’m kinda sure that they are perfectly aware that there is no superhero concept in the Justice League Universe so far, either by watching the films or by people like the good Dr that explains it to them, but the main issue is that those type of people actively WANT to criticise the universe, and when they set their minds to something like that there is nothing we nor anyone can do about it.

          Some of those folks can go as far as contradict themselves, swinging their own logic once you have found a flaw in it. People willing to bite their own tongues instead of accepting that they are mistaken, trying to reason with them is next to impossible. I think the best we can all do is take their statements and complaints as what they are, meaningless.

  10. Awesome content as always! I’m surprised you didn’t mention that Clark was the star QB in the Smallville series

    • Thanks for listening. Superman and football are entwined more often than not so I had to draw a line somewhere. As a general rule (fraught with exceptions), he played it in the comics but didn’t in most other media. If I was going to raise him playing, I would have used Byrne’s take on how that informed Post-Crisis Supes.

  11. It now seems to me the ambiguity around Lex’s end game is intended. So that it wouldn’t confuse the audience too much in this already pretty complex film, allow us to focus on the psychological journey Bruce and Clark went through in that final act. But it could be explained in the Justice League film.

    • Snyder frequently says the fun for him is exploring open questions and he intentionally wants his films to have open interpretations and not just have clear cut answers, he also believes it creates an enduring memory.

      And Doc, if you’re thinking about your next episode I’d love if you could bounce off this theme and maybe try Jor-Els end game. Thinking about it, between Krypton, Zod, the hologram, dialogue from Clark, and the events of BvS, there’s a lot going on there.

      • I’ve already been having a lot of fun working on a new episode (only about 10% recycled military material which will probably be cut anyways) under the loose umbrella “first contact”… too many topics, so a lot is going to end up edited out.

        …can’t think of any funny / interesting first contact songs though, hah.

        Stella let me knock out about half of it but no ETA yet, I can only work on these one night every two weeks or so, sorry!

  12. I just clicked found out about the newest episode. I’m currently listening.

    My favorite sport is Hockey I used to play it with my friends on the street in my neighborhood all year long didn’t matter if it was 100° or -10 we were outside playing hockey.

  13. For anyone who is interested, the “Justice League Universe Podcast” landed an interview with the photographer Clay Enos, if you want to hear it I will leave the link here:

    https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/jluniverse/episodes/2017-03-24T09_00_00-07_00

    At around the 21 minutes mark they start to discuss about the critical reception of BvS.

    • It’s an awesome episode! I wish I had heard it before recording about “creator intent” but I’ve added it to the show notes. Definitely a must listen, thanks.

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