Some critics seem really hung-up on Superman prioritizing 7.2 billion people over one side of a car park. It seems ridiculous to have to get that granular and justify a single, instinctual heat-of-the-moment choice by a first-time combatant (just hours earlier a life-long pacifist) against a veteran soldier… but this keeps coming up!
Really, nearly anything Superman does to stay alive and increase his chances of saving the World is reasonable given his inexperience, but some try to make a tenuous moral calculation out of it.
So assuming we’re going to hypocritically judge Superman for skills and experience he doesn’t have, does dodging still make sense? Sure it does. Zod didn’t do it for fun. Zod was trying to take Kal out. Kal already knows that something like this can leave him dazed long enough to get killed by Zod. If Zod kills Kal EVERYONE dies… so Kal has no choice but to dodge.
Moreover, I don’t get the moral panic over one side of a parking deck getting hit. People park their cars to leave them… not to stay in them all day. The civilian density in a garage is predictably low (which is why they always disclaim theft on their premises) and certainly lower than an explosion in the streets with visible civilians all around! Kal picked unlikely-to-zero garage deaths vs. certain civilian street deaths with a high possibility of global extinction… seems a reasonable choice even under the calculations he had no time to do (and which the critics didn’t bother to do despite having all the time in the world).
The angst over the cladding is also misplaced. Zod was already raining down debris, the street was clear from Kal’s perspective, and shedding cladding won’t cause a steel skyscraper to collapse. Did anyone think those were load-bearing windows in The Matrix? Of course not! Cladding is cosmetic not structural. You’d no more assume a building was held up by its cladding than to believe skyscrapers stand on glass.
[Literally] Flying Tackle
Kal has one effective attack. Here he has the advantage of flight, height, contained collateral, no civilians, and a direct shot. If he can KO Zod here, the madness can end and stem the tide. He’d be crazy not to TRY and end it… but it doesn’t end. They’re both insanely durable, insanely strong, but only Zod is actually trained, practiced, and experienced in fighting (even if he’s not the best).
Expectation vs. Observation
It is ridiculous to ask Kal to kill Zod instantly, to force Zod to leave Metropolis when he doesn’t want to, or to do anything really. It’s hard enough for Kal to knock Zod out, much less impose any kind of strategy, will, or intentions upon his physical equal. While some traditions allow Superman greater strength due to storing more radiation than other Kryptonians, we’re never told or shown that in the film, and the World Engine leaves Kal completely drained, removing that possibility as a factor.
There seems to be a massive gap between what some critics unrealistically expect of a first-time fighter and what we actually see Kal’s performance to realistically be… Zod nearly knocks Kal down for every one of Kal’s clean punches. Kal relies more on messy collisions and tackles because it’s all he knows and all that’s effective against a more skilled combatant. Zod is plainly the better fighter and it doesn’t matter how much Kal cares about civilian casualties or collateral damage… he’s just trying to stay alive!
How did Kal win then? He put more power into his hits because he didn’t know any better. A novice throws hay-makers which, in this case, tap into his power. Zod, meanwhile, fought like you’d be trained to fight… measuring your opponent, using precise counters to avoid leaving yourself open, etc. His training meant he was fighting smart, but not unleashing as much as he could be. As inexperienced Kal was with fighting, Zod was with having powers. Kal was able to hang with Zod long enough that Zod became frustrated, lost his composure, and ended up forcing Kal’s hand into ending it.
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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.