The film elegantly establishes Clark can’t fly by showing him climb. Here’s a myriad of examples the film used to help the audience understand Clark’s powers and limitations in the same logical fashion. Nonetheless, many claim Clark should have used powers that were never displayed, should have demonstrated total awareness that was never presented, or should have employed experience that he plainly didn’t have.
Addressing experience, he is called greenhorn three times, Faora and Zod call this out, and it’s literally his first day on the job… for a job no one knew would exist (to even train for).
Addressing awareness, we’re plainly shown a Clark that can be surprised and isn’t all-knowing. What basis is there for judging him on that? It seems like a preconception from outside the story which the film disabuses the audience of almost immediately. That brings us to super speed.
Addressing super speed, we’re never shown the kind of speed which could invisibly and safely rescue Jonathan. Yes, strength allows for some greater speed, but that’s worlds different from the kind of supernatural speed needed to be undetectable, unidentifiable, or invisible. Additionally, the ability to interact with the world at those speeds without any undesired collateral effects is an entirely separate power unto itself! The speed we did see would have been catastrophic for rescue. Here are just a few scenes that preceded the tornado, to make it clear to the audience that Clark didn’t have super speed:
- Oil Rig – His face and powers are already revealed and time is critical, so he would zip them topside if he could.
- Disguise – There’s no need to take the clothes if he can hide with speed or fetch clothes quickly.
- Bus – No reason to be caught if he could move invisibly fast.
- Maybe – Jonathan is reasonably concerned because Clark was actually seen, his caution is justified because his Clark can’t fly away or zip about invisibly.
- Hitchhike – Clark wants to cover his tracks and wouldn’t hitchhike to Ellesmere if he could run there undetected.
- Joe – Clark wouldn’t make a false identity to investigate if he could zip around invisibly and interact with the site’s findings.
- Walk – He walks because his running speed is detectable and, if spotted, would raise more alarm than walking.
There are many indications that Superman’s speed doesn’t allow him to harmlessly interact with the world at those speeds. And many reasons to discount Faora’s demonstration as applicable.
Of course, just because Superman didn’t have this level of super speed or this type of super speed in Man of Steel doesn’t mean it can’t be introduced later. The film clearly provides a precedent for Superman discovering powers, testing his limits, and those limits being beyond Jor-El’s imagination.
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Of course, the video is addressing running speed up to the tornado scene. In terms of flight time, Superman is already astoundingly fast… he crosses the globe from the Indian Ocean to Metropolis (a distance of 11,156 miles) in about a minute… or just under 880 times the speed of sound! Fighting Zod, they attain geosynchronous orbit (about 22,236 miles above sea level) in under 8 seconds… or 13,145 times the speed of sound or astonishingly about 1.5% the speed of light… able to circle the planet under 7 times in a minute!
If you’ve got an idea for a myth that my meager editing abilities might be able to tackle let me know for future videos!
Man Of Steel Answers Insight Commentary (MOSAIC) Podcast covers these kinds of questions and more in depth for fans of Man of Steel and those excited by the DC Cinematic Universe.
Video inspired by:
MOSAIC Episode 12 – Oil Rig Virtues – Heroism
More on super speed:
MOSAIC Episode 5 – Powers Part 3 – Speed, Flight, Telekinesis