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Film / Man of Steel

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"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the Sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."

Man of Steel, released in 2013, is a movie based on the DC Comics superhero Superman, starring Henry Cavill in the role. Zack Snyder directed, Christopher Nolan served as producer and wrote the story, David S. Goyer and Nolan wrote the script, and Hans Zimmer composed the film's score. The film has no connection to Superman Returns or any other previous Superman film; instead, it serves as a Continuity Reboot that retells Superman's origin story (much the same as Nolan's Batman Begins did after the Batman film series). It became the cornerstone of the DC Extended Universe, Warner Bros/DC's shared comic book movie universe.

On the distant planet Krypton, scientist Jor-El (Russell Crowe) recognizes the inevitability of his planet's destruction due to his society's arrogance and shortsightedness. In an attempt to preserve Krypton's future, he and his wife Lara Lor-Van (Ayelet Zurer) conceive a son, Kal-El, naturally—the first natural birth in generations because of a genetically-engineered caste system. Shortly after Kal-El's birth, the leader of Krypton's military, General Zod (Michael Shannon), attempts to take over Krypton in a military coup. Zod breaches Jor-El's laboratory and watches Jor-El and Lara send Kal-El off to a distant planet, along with the genetic keys to the Kryptonian race, so he and they can survive Krypton's destruction. Zod kills Jor-El in retaliation, and his coup attempt quickly fails. He and his henchmen are then banished to the Phantom Zone. Not long after the banishment takes place, true to the late Jor-El's predictions, Krypton implodes.

Kal-El arrives on Earth and grows up with the Kents, Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha (Diane Lane), loving parents who give him the name "Clark". Clark finds himself with a wide array of superhuman abilities and wanders the world as an adult, helping people in trouble whenever possible but fleeing out of the fear of not being accepted. When he finds an ancient spacecraft of Kryptonian origin in the Arctic, he receives the answers to questions he has long asked himself; these answers give Clark hope that the right approach will allow him to co-exist with humanity as a hero. But talented reporter Lois Lane—and, later on, Zod (who managed to break out of the Phantom Zone)—ultimately force Clark to reveal himself to the world... just before Zod and his remaining followers imperil Earth and humankind in an attempt to create a new Krypton.

Man of Steel Prequel, a comic book starring Kara Zor-El, was released shortly before the release of the film, and it explained how the Kryptonian spacecraft landed on Earth. A follow up Crossover film with Batman, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, was released in 2016.

Man of Steel provides examples of:

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    Tropes # to F 
  • The '80s: Clark's childhood is set during this time period. It shifts over to The '90s after the bus incident before shifting into the modern day.
  • Achilles' Heel:
    • A rather clever one; Clark is overwhelmed by his burgeoning Super-Senses and other powers, and takes some time to control them. He realizes in his first major confrontation that Zod and his crew are using sealed-atmosphere Powered Armor that minimize the reactions they get from the yellow sun. By breaking those seals, they are overwhelmed just as much as young Clark was. Zod later comments that it is a weakness they will adapt to and later fights Superman with all those same powers.
    • The film also offers another Logical Weakness for Superman besides the stand-bys of red sun energy and Kryptonite. Specifically, the entire ecosphere of Earth (gravity, sun, atmosphere) is the source of his powers, when exposed to the atmosphere of Krypton aboard Zod's ship he almost dies before adapting, and remains human-level under its effects.
  • Action Survivor: Lois who, with an unfamiliar weapon and the help of Jor-El's Virtual Ghost, manages to fight her way off Zod's ship. She clearly has no fighting experience and visibly fumbles with the Kryptonian gun, but unlike her other incarnations, she is definitely no Damsel in Distress.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film puts its own spin on elements from Superman: The Movie, Superman II, Smallville and modern (usually Post-Crisis) Superman comics such as The Man of Steel, Superman: Birthright, Last Son, Superman: Secret Origin, All-Star Superman, Superman: Earth One and Superman: Secret Identity.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The usually black-haired Lois Lane and redheaded Lana Lang have traded hair colors.
  • Adaptation Expansion: This movie spends more time delving into Kryptonian society and explaining the sociopolitical/ecological situation before its destruction than any film adaptation before it. The explanation behind Krypton's destruction is unique to this movie, as is the detail about the abandoned Kryptonian space program.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: The film makes Superman's enemy General Zod into the murderer of his father, Jor-El and the catalyst for Superman's public heroics rather than the generic evil Kryptonian he always was.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The Fortress of Solitude is cut out of this version. Its closest counterpart is an 18,000-year-old Kryptonian spacecraft that Clark finds buried in the Arctic (an artifact from an abandoned Kryptonian space program that sent explorers all over the galaxy). Which crashed.
    • The Superman/Clark/Lois Two-Person Love Triangle, because Lois knows his secret.
    • Jimmy Olsen and Cat Grant from the Daily Planet note .
  • Air Jousting: Superman and General Zod take to the skies of Metropolis during their final skirmish. Zod even attempts an spinning throw on Superman in mid-air.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: It's hard not to feel a little bad for General Zod at the end, even if he was going to wipe out humanity in the name of giving his people a new home. Superman even screams in frustration not only because of Zod's destructive rampage, but because he had just killed one of the last Kryptonians left in the galaxy besides himself.
  • Alien Invasion: Zod comes to Earth in search of Clark, aboard a Cool Starship with a Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: Zod and his men come to Smallville seeking the MacGuffin needed for their Evil Plan.
  • Aliens of London: Averted. Unlike the 1978 Superman movie, Kryptonian characters don't have a uniform accent.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The scenes on Krypton could have been Translation Convention, and of course, Clark has spent nearly his whole life on Earth, but it gets a little weird when the other Kryptonians have little trouble speaking perfect English as soon as they land. The landing message demanding Clark's surrender was broadcast all over the world, shown in whatever the native language of the area is. We can assume that they've figured out how to communicate in whatever languages are necessary.
  • Allegory: In addition to the Crucified Hero Shot detailed below, the main events of the film take place when Clark is 33 years old, coincidentally the length of time Christ spent on Earth
  • All of the Other Reindeer: Clark was bullied and rejected by many as a kid because of the unusual behavior caused by not being able to control his powers, and his isolated nature from trying to keep them a secret.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The tie-in prequel comic (which is presumably completely canon, since its story is credited to Goyer) reveals that Thanagar exists in this continuity — as does Kara Zor-El, whose ship crash-lands in Canada thousands of years before the beginning of the film.
    • How Clark goes from a full beard to clean-shaven is never explained, though in the comics (and the TV show Lois & Clark), he shaves with heat vision and a mirror (or other reflective surfaces). The omission is kind of a cop-out since a Gillette ad campaign to promote the film was "How Does He Shave?"
  • America Saves the Day:
    • The Kryptonians are clearly a global-level threat, but you wouldn't get the impression that any armed forces exist on Earth other than America's military, since no other country's military gets involved at all. Justified by the fact that the Dark Zero sets down on American soil, and the World Engine at the antipodal point is over the Indian Ocean, both sides emitting energy fields that prevent local flight (which is why Superman had to fly to the World Engine alone)
    • At the end of the movie, Superman argues with General Swanwick that he will never become a threat to America's interests since "I grew up in Kansas, General. About as American as it gets."
  • Anachronic Order: Starts out with the destruction of Krypton, then jumps ahead to Clark in his thirties, followed by various flashbacks of his life. Of course, the Superman mythos have become so ingrained in pop culture that audience members will probably understand the flashbacks easily. Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 75 years... The flashbacks also help the film's overall pacing since the audience isn't treated to a big info dump at the beginning of the movie.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The explorers from the Kryptonian space program crash-landed on Earth sometime during the Stone Age. The prequel comic implies that their spacecraft's arrival showed up in the mythologies of some early humans.
  • The Anticipator: While standing at Jonathan's grave, Lois tells Clark she knew he'd show up if she just kept digging. Naturally, he's right behind her.
  • Anti-Villain: In stark contrast to earlier depictions of the character, this version of Zod is more misguided than evil.
  • Arc Symbol: the Kryptonian S.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • After getting scolded by his adopted father for risking exposure using his superhuman strength to save everyone on a school bus, Clark asks him "What was I supposed to do, just let them die?" Jonathan is clearly heartbroken that he doesn't have a simple answer for his son, practically croaking out "...Maybe." but then tries to impress on Clark the potentially disastrous worldwide consequences of revealing himself. He also eventually convinces Clark to let a tornado take Jonathan rather than risk these consequences, even though Clark is by then older.
    • After telling Lois how Jonathan Kent sacrificed himself because he believes the world isn't ready yet for Clark, he asked Lois "What do you think?". Her answer is to drop the story.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Faora states that Superman having morality, and she and the warrior Kryptonians not having it, gives the latter an evolutionary advantage. This is not how altruistic behavior works: in nature, empathy and altruism allow all animals (not just humans) to build strong communities, whereas groups where everyone is for themselves die off after one generation. In other words, morality and mutual aid is exactly what gave mankind, and presumably Kryptonians as a whole, an evolutionary advantage.
    • In-universe example. Historically, Superman's strength always came from absorbing the energy of the Sun, but at no point was it recorded that the air composition has any effect on it. Superman can go on without air at all (in space), by running on energy stored in his cells (replenishing it, which is what the body needs oxygen for in the first place).
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Jonathan Kent tells Clark about taking the "key" from his spaceship to the University to have it analyzed, and being told the material it's made from doesn't match anything on our Periodic Table, and "that's just another way of saying it's not from this planet." That statement is wrong on just about every possible level.Explanation 
    • Arguably it could be that the "key" isn't not made of the everyday particles, it's that it confounds analysis e.g. it "masks" itself electromagnetically, is much harder than diamond to scratch and might "mechanically" interfere with chemical reactions on an nanomachine-scale. So it doesn't match anything in context.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Downplayed by most Kryptonians, but Zod is able to figure out the mechanics of flying and how to use heat vision, as well as using the heat vision's cool-down period against Superman.
  • Beardness Protection Program: Clark, when Walking the Earth. He apparently finds time to shave off-screen while changing into the Superman suit (deftly dodging the age-old "Kryptonite razor" question...)
  • Beauty Inversion: Both Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are made out to look older than they normally look, and more like midwest farmers with gray hair and weathered skin. The film also ended up cutting out a number of scenes depicting early life with the Kents, where we would have seen more of them younger in appearance.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: As true to the character, Clark is a nice guy who just wants to help people, but he's still not above trashing someone's property in retaliation for being a jerk.
  • Beware the Superman: Even the literal one, despite not being an enemy, is still a reason of concern for the military due to his abilities. The destruction caused by the Kryptonians through the film play this trope straight.
  • Big Bad: Zod, leader of the Kryptonian invaders.
  • Big Damn Heroes: As is the norm, Superman gets several moments.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Between Clark and Lois after the Kryptonian ship is destroyed and before the final fight with Zod.
  • Big "NEVER!": Zod's last words.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Clark lets one out when he watches Jonathan get swept away by a tornado after rescuing the family dog.
    • Near the end of the movie, right before Clark is forced to kill Zod with his bare hands. The Great Hall of Union Station gives it a nice echo.
    • Zod lets one out when he sees that the ship containing Kal-El has been launched. And then he stabs Jor-El.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Zod's "You Are Not Alone" message has the phrase flash by in several languages, including English, Chinese, Portuguese and Klingon.
    • How do you say "hope" in Latin? Spes, which is also the name of the goddess of the same, making Kal-El's explanation to Lois almost mystical in nature.
  • Bleed 'Em and Weep: Clark, who has spent the entire movie trying to save everyone, breaks down crying after he is forced to directly kill Zod to keep him from vaporizing a terrified family and act out his vow to kill the entire human race Clark had adopted. It's treated not as a rite of passage but a terribly traumatic choice that forced him to do something strongly against his nature.
  • Blessed with Suck: When young Clark's X-ray vision and super-hearing first manifest, he freaks out from sensory overload and locks himself in a closet.
  • Blown Across the Room:
  • Breaking the Bonds:
    • When Superman is in military custody, he breaks the handcuffs he was in, effortlessly, to show that they can't control him.
    • He also does this in Zod's mothership when he's being held prisoner.
  • Brought Down to Normal : Superman, when exposed to a Krypton-like environment, loses his powers quite quickly; in fact, it works as his Kryptonite Factor in this film. The inverse works on the other Kryptonians: Exposure to Earth's environment (and more specifically, its people) causes Sensory Overload in Kryptonians that are not accustomed to it.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": The Kryptonian symbol of the House of El looks a lot like Earth's alphabet's letter "S."
  • The Brute: In the Smallville fight, Nam-Ek, a faceless, 7-foot tall soldier fights Superman alongside Faora. He noticeably matches him in strength while Faora has speed and skill.
  • Bullfight Boss: Unfortunately, Superman is the bull and Faora is the bullfighter. She lands a couple of good ones on him by reading that he'll fly at her and then weaving out of the way before hammering him in the back.
  • Bullet Time: Notably averted, under enforcement by the director. The action never slows down and the movements of the characters are shown in real time, to the point the camera itself can barely keep up. That, and the natural durability of the characters, really hammers home just how insanely fast and powerful the Kryptonians are.
  • Bullying a Dragon:
    • While Kenny Braverman does not know that Clark is alien from Krypton, he's suspicious that Clark's much stronger than him, so being such a complete jerk is not a great idea.
    • Even if you aren't aware he's a godlike alien, is it really a wise move to antagonize the man easily a foot taller than you and built like a brick shithouse, Jerkass trucker guy?
  • Bus Full of Innocents: Young Clark is aboard such a bus when he saves his classmates from drowning.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp":
    Lois: What's the "S" stand for?
    Clark: It's not an "S". On my world, it means "hope".
    Lois: Well, here, it's... an "S".
  • Camera Abuse: As the spaceship takes off for the Phantom Zone, exhaust from its thrusters obscures the audience POV.
  • Canon Foreigner: Colonel Hardy and General Swanwick don't exist in the comics Man of Steel is based on. The same is true of Jenny Jurwich, the intern at the Daily Planet who is one of the five named characters there.
  • Cape Snag:
    • During the fight in Smallville, Nam-Ek grabs Superman's cape and uses it to slam him into the ground.
    • General Zod grabs Superman by the cape and throws him across the city, sending Superman crashing through half a dozen buildings before his motion slows down.
  • Casting Gag:
    • In the scene in the Arctic, the technician who mentions finding the Kryptonian ship to be over 20,000 years old, is played by Alessandro Juliani, who played Dr. Emil Hamilton in Smallville. He is delivering the lines to Dr. Emil Hamilton (Richard Schiff).
    • Mackenzie Gray played a deformed clone of Lex Luthor on Smallville. Here, he's playing the Kryptonian Expy of the character, Jax-Ur.
  • Central Theme:
    • Justice and hope will eventually prevail, no matter how tough it is.
    • There won't be answers to situations that are always ethically pleasing.
    • Understanding what it means to be human and more than human and trying to do the right thing.
  • The Chain of Harm:
    Faora: For every human you save, we'll kill a million more.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Codex. It turns out to be encoded in Clark's own cells, thus giving Zod a reason to kill Clark so he can extract it from his corpse.
    • The Kryptonian spacecraft key with Jor-El's digital avatar stored on it. Lois uses it to summon Jor-El while imprisoned on Zod's spaceship so that she can escape and find a way to defeat Zod.
    • Clark's inability to control his enhanced senses as a child. It turns out to be an important detail when he goes up against Zod's soldiers, who haven't had a lifetime to acclimate to their sun-enhanced abilities. The sensory overload quickly incapacitates them when their environmental suits are breached. Zod ultimately figures his abilities out, but Clark's lifetime on Earth is likely a trump card in the end.
    • The hyperdrive on Clark's spacecraft. It's made from the same technology as the Kryptonian prisoners' hyperdrive — which they made by converting the Phantom Zone projector — since Jor-El designed both spacecraft. With the help of Jor-El's Virtual Ghost, the military is able to use it to create a kind of singularity that reclaims all the Kryptonians in reach.
  • Clark Kenting: Deconstructed and reconstructed. Clark doesn't have his two personas because he's not sure he will be accepted in any form. Lois tracks "the alien" through his aliases and good deeds, taking physical appearance out of the equation until she finds him at home. But what makes his Clark Kenting work is the variety of looks he takes on, shifting from including a full beard working on a fishing boat, partial stubble working at a diner and clean-shaven with his hair slicked back when he puts on the costume. In fact, he is pretty much invisible as "Joe" when he and Lois first meet, no more than an extra. When he joins the Daily Planet at the end of the film, he has messy hair and a pair of very thick glasses (which he almost forgot to put on), lots of conflicting patterns and a tweed jacket and a less-commanding voice. Lois recognizes him immediately, but the new twist in this series is her being a Secret-Keeper from the start.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Clark doesn't start off his heroic antics with a clear sense of confidence at first and is shown to have some doubt in himself as a child. He even goes through a moral crisis after he kills Zod when he is unable to otherwise stop him from carrying out his threat to kill everyone on the planet in front of Clark.
  • Close on Title
  • Clothesline Stealing: Played with; Clark goes to steal some clothes off a clothesline in a remote fishing village when he emerges from the ocean following the oil rig explosion, but they are still soaking wet. He steals clothes from the back of a nearby vehicle that was left open instead.
  • Collapsible Helmet: The helmet part of the Kryptonian armors can collapse or build itself from just a collar, as seen when Lois Lane is given one to allow breathing within the Kryptonian environment of the ship. The helmets seem to be made of form-fitting force-fields that can also turn opaque or transparent as needed.
  • Colonel Badass: Colonel Hardy. When he comes up against Faora, he starts in a helicopter. She crashes it. He then crawls out of the wreckage and empties two guns into her (after watching her effortlessly annihilate his men). When he clicks dry without their having the slightest effect, he pulls out a knife. She's impressed enough to let him get into a fighting stance, pass on some Kryptonian wisdom, and draw her own knife instead of just walking all over him.
  • Color Wash: The film has a dark bluish tint when Clark is out in the world, while Smallville scenes use yellowish lighting instead.
  • Comes Great Responsibility:
    • Jonathan tells the young Clark that he has to decide what kind of man he wants to be, since with his powers, he can change the world.
    • Though Jor-El's primary concern is his son's survival, he's not ignorant of the implications Kal-El's superpowers will have on Earth among humans, so he or his avatar tells him to live in humanity's service. Though Clark was already helping people due to his own morals, but not yet as a career.
  • Comic-Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: The name "Superman" is hardly ever used. It doesn't appear in the title or the credits. The first time that Lois tries to suggest the name "Superman" to Clark, she's cut off by an intercom message. Much later, when one of the soldiers actually uses the name, General Swanwick looks at him like he's an idiot. The soldier sheepishly explains, "The alien. It's what they're calling him now."
  • Concepts Are Cheap: One of the main conflicts of the story basically comes down to eugenics versus freedom, predestination versus fortune, and faith versus ambition. While those words are never exactly used, similar words such as "degenerate bloodlines", "destiny" and "heresy" are used by Zod while Jor-El refers to "choice" and "chance" as precious and mentions "dreams" offhandedly.
  • Continuity Cameo: Lana Lang and Steve Lombard are in the movie, but have smaller roles than others of Superman's supporting cast.
  • Continuity Reboot: Man of Steel is a new take on the Christopher Reeve and Superman Returns series.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: There happens to be a satellite there for Zod to scramble a hold on.
  • Cool Helmet: The Kryptonians wear full body armor, but their helmets are mostly made of shaped force fields that enclose their heads. They are of variable opacity, will deflect any Earth weapon and also serve to shield their wearer against sensory overload while on Earth — "Cool Helmet" indeed. Lois is also given one when she and Superman are sent to meet Zod, because their ship is filled with Kryptonian-like atmosphere in which humans would have difficulty breathing.
  • The Coup: At the beginning, Zod, some of his officers and loyal henchmen storm Krypton's high council and gun down a few of its members. They then declare that they would execute the remaining leaders for treason by reason of incompetent leadership and then assume control of Krypton. The coup fails due to Jor-El intervening and the surviving loyalist forces rallying after the initial shock.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The family Zod tries to kill with his heat vision are unharmed by the beam mere inches away; a beam hot enough to be used by Clark to vaporise a steel girder in less time than it took Zod to swing it at his head.
  • Cover Blowing Super Power: Jonathan is very concerned that Clark not use his powers in any situation that would expose him to the world, so much so that Jonathan gets himself killed in a tornado to keep Clark's secret.
  • Crucified Hero Shot:
    • A shirtless Clark underwater with his arms extended, after the oil rig he's on collapses.
    • On leaving the Kryptonian ship, he floats out through a hole in the wall in this pose.
    • In a pre-Crucifixion example, when Clark is in a church pondering whether he should surrender himself to Zod, a stained glass window of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane is prominently in the background.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: When Kryptonians attack normal human beings, you can expect a lot of deaths that come close to this, but the one that passes firmly into this trope is the poor fighter pilot who is reduced to a thick red mist by his attacker.
  • Cry into Chest: Gender-inverted when Lois (who is standing) holds Superman (who is kneeling).
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Though hardly the crystal-encrusted world shown in the previous films, Krypton is a "neo-medieval" society, with Jor-El, Zod and others wearing armor, capes and robes over their supersuit-esque bodysuits.
  • Cultured Badass: During the bullying scene, you may notice Clark was reading Plato's works.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Possibly so much so that it doesn't even count, but when the military is going after the Kryptonians...
  • Dark Is Evil: All of Zod's technology is a metallic black.
  • Darker and Edgier: Christopher Nolan has said while Man of Steel isn't a "dark movie", as Superman isn't a dark character, it is "more serious and realistic." Still, it is by far the most violent Superman movie to date. It is however, somewhat Lighter and Softer than Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Jor-El dies as usual for Superman's origin, but he is killed by Zod instead of dying in Krypton's destruction.
    • Possibly Jor-El's digital avatar as well. Zod seems to delete it when Jor-El tries to convince him not to go through with his plan.
    • This is another adaptation where Jonathan Kent dies (not always in Superman media).
    • Emil Hamilton dies helping stop the Kryptonians.
    • Superman kills Zod in the heat of battle and out of desperation, and he regrets it deeply.
    • Kara Zor-El. In the prequel comic, we learn that she's Kal-El's distant ancestor rather than his first cousin in this continuity, and that she was one of the Kryptonian explorers who came to Earth and landed in the Arctic. It's possible that the corpse in the Kryptonian spacecraft is hers; though even if it isn't, she's definitely long-dead by the time Kal-El makes it to Earth. However, note that while one sleeper capsule has a corpse, another is open and empty...
  • Death Seeker: Zod admits straight up he has nothing more to live for and goads Superman several times during their fight that he will have to kill him or be killed. Even his final moments trying to fry innocents with Heat Vision while in a choke hold is basically pleading for him to end it.
  • Deducing the Secret Identity: Unlike previous installments, Lois is able to figure out Clark's identity from the start, by following his work history and getting information from people who worked with until it finally leads her to Smallville.
  • Defends Against Their Own Kind: Clark is Earth's only defense against the invading Kryptonians. Because he was raised on Earth, Clark identifies as an Earthling and rejects the Kryptonians' terraforming plans.
  • Designer Babies: Kryptonians are genetically engineered to fill different roles in their society. Kal-El is unique among Kryptonians in that he was naturally conceived and born, which Zod considered "heresy". In Plato's "The Republic" he describes an ideal society where the population is divided into three classes — philosophers, soldiers and workers, and there's a kind of breeding program to perfect each class. Both soldiers and workers are supposed to let themselves be guided by the philosophers. The young Clark reading Plato in one scene is most likely a shout-out to "the Republic".
  • Destroy the Product Placement: Superman's fight with General Zod and Faora ensues through a 7-Eleven, an IHOP store and end up in front of a Sears store which also becomes partially destroyed. There's also a U-Haul truck being lifted by one of Zod's minions and thrown against an U.S. Army helicopter.
  • Detonation Moon: In one of the scenery shots of Krypton, you can see its moon partially blown up.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The Kryptonians tried to use the finite and unstable energy of their planet's core as a fuel source, with the only other known alternative being to colonize other planets and use their resources.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • Colonel Hardy refuses to back down when negotiations with the Kryptonians move in a threatening direction.
      Faora: Should I tell the General you are unwilling to comply?
      Hardy: I don't care what you tell him.
    • Martha Kent also does this with General Zod, telling him to go to hell.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The military manages to knock Faora unconscious with a missile.
  • Digging to China: The World Engine is sent to the Indian Ocean, the actual point on the opposite of the planet, instead of China. It takes into consideration latitude as well as longitude... for a given value of Metropolis.
  • Diner Brawl: Clark and Faora briefly fight inside and through an IHOP diner during the Smallville battle. Note, poor Pete is the manager. The looks he and Clark flash each other during the fight break are hilarious.
  • Disaster Scavengers: After Krypton is gone, Zod and his crew search the old abandoned Kryptonian outposts. They don't find any living Kryptonian but still manage to scavenge useful equipment like their armors and even a World Engine.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: A drunk trucker tries to get fresh with a waitress at a diner. When Clark steps in to defend her, he gets spit on, drenched with beer, and gets an empty can thrown at the back of his head. He's about to do something, but we never know what since the waitress and the cook stop him with an "it's not worth it," so he leaves the diner in a huff. Cut to the next scene, and the guy's truck is destroyed, impaled on power-line poles.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • This exchange:
      General Swanwick: What are you smiling about, Captain?
      Captain Farris: I just think he’s kinda hot.
    • When Faora first meets Kal-El, her eyes move up and down his body in clear approval.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Krypton is falling apart after exhausting all of their natural resources. Some say this is what's happening to Earth as a result of human activity.
    • Clark's healing of Lois when they first meet involves her laying on her back as he leans over her, speaking tenderly as he opens her coat, while she gasps for breath....
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Zod apparently shorts out all electric devices besides those with screens, and broadcasts his "You Are Not Alone" message, imploring Kal-El to come to him.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: The tornado which kills Jonathan Kent had some kick outside of the funnel proper, but nowhere near what a twister is really capable of. For one thing, one person stands perfectly still and doesn't move an inch even as he's enveloped by the funnel cloud.
    • Also, the overpass at best does nothing and at worst can create a fatal debris and wind tunnel. There's no excuse for this to be in a 2013 movie.
  • Doomed Hometown:
    • Superman's homeworld of Krypton is destroyed in the film's opening.
    • Also Smallville and Metropolis get wrecked in the battles between Superman and Zod.
  • Double Meaning:
    • Not only does Zod's message ("You Are Not Alone") inform humans that aliens exist, it lets Superman know he's not the last Kryptonian.
    • "Welcome to the Planet, Clark." Since Lois knows who he really is.
  • The Dragon: Faora, Zod's second-in-command.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help:
    • Essentially how we're introduced to Clark. He's forced to Walk the Earth because he's afraid what people will do when they discover his abilities, but he can't blend in for long because of his Samaritan Syndrome. Lois flat out tells him that the only way he'll stay completely hidden is to stop saving people.
    • He's slightly hampered in his fight with the Kryptonians by the fact that he's trying to protect human bystanders at the same time. Faora calls him out on it, saying that lacking morality makes the Kryptonians more fit to survive.
  • Dramatic Necklace Removal: Clark, when he finds the slot his Orphan's Plot Trinket was designed to fit.
  • Drone of Dread:
    • A low drone is heard when Zod kills Jor-El.
    • Each time the terraforming pulse ping-pongs back and forth between the Black Zero and the World Engine, it emits a horrendous droning sound.
  • Drowning Pit: A teenage Clark rescues a group of students when their school bus becomes one of these.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Discussed between Faora and Colonel Hardy with the line, "A good death is its own reward". Hardy makes good on the saying.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Only for a minor detail. When Superman and Zod fight in space on a satellite, the Wayne Enterprises logo is that from The Dark Knight Trilogy note . A new logo was used from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice onwards.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: The destruction of Krypton as its core blows up.
  • Elevator Escape: Lois pulls one of these to get away from the FBI. They catch her anyway.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Crossed with Oh, Crap!; Lois tells Clark that they gave her a Mind Probe and learned all her secrets. Clark tries to calm her down and replies that Zod was inside his head as well... then he connects the dots and realizes they know where he lives and that he has family, probably enforced by him cocking his head slightly like he was listening to them threaten his mother.
  • Evil Counterpart: Zod serves as one to Jor-El. Both were concerned with Krypton's future being in the hands of apathetic politicians, except while Jor-El wanted to solve things diplomatically, Zod wanted to tear them down and start anew.
  • Evil Genius: Zod has a Kryptonian scientist named Jax-Ur in his employ, whose tasks include finding the Codex (Krypton’s genetic potential) and operating the World Engine.
  • Evil Is Hammy: As one can tell, just about all of the pork comes from General Zod.
  • Evolutionary Levels: According to Faora, people with no sense of morality have "an evolutionary advantage" over those that have one, and "evolution always wins".
  • Exposition Intuition: When the World Engine starts up, Dr. Hamilton correctly observes that it's a gravity weapon. And then he declares that they are somehow increasing Earth's mass. Deducting that the World Engine affects gravity is feasible because everything is getting heavier. However, how would Hamilton even notice that the Earth is getting bigger? Yet, he's absolutely right.
  • Expy:
    • This film's General Zod is essentially Mustapha Mond taken to a Logical Extreme.
    • This films incarnation of Faora is closer to Ursa than the man-hating Faora from the comics. Recursive, as Ursa herself was a loose Expy of Faora.
    • A huge, non-verbal bruiser distinguished by his incredible strength and loyalty to Zod? Nam-Ek is this film's stand-in for Non.
    • Laurence Fishburne based his Perry White on 60 Minutes member Ed Bradley. Both even have a pierced ear.
    • Jenny was rumored to be a gender-flipped Jimmy Olsen, but the movie reveals her surname is "Jurwich" by the end (and high-resolution publicity shots showing her ID card will reveal this, too). Confusingly, a tie-in book does name her as "Jenny Olsen."
    • General Swanick is one for General Sam Lane (Lois' father), who has a prominent role in one of this film's sources, Superman: Secret Origin.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Kryptonian children are artificially gestated and sorted into professional castes based on their "bloodline". Jor-El and Lara conceived Kal naturally so he would be outside of this system and free to choose his own path.
  • Fantastic Racism: Zod despises humans (and his fellow Kryptonians that belong to "inferior bloodlines").
  • Faux Shadowing: Zod's armor has a Blade Below the Shoulder he uses to kill Jor-El. In the final fight with Superman he makes an adjustment to his right gauntlet, as if to bust out the blade, but instead just removes his armor.
  • Female Gaze: When Superman is saving the people from the oil tanker, the camera goes down to show off Cavill's pecs.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: A rare evil version. Zod & Co. want to recreate their lost homeworld on Earth, even if it involves genocide on a massive scale.
  • Film Adaptation (Live-Action): A new Origin Story, adapting the Superman comics, involving the presence of multiple Kryptonians.
  • Final Battle: Big time with Zod, ends with Superman twisting Zod's neck 180 degrees.
  • Final Solution: After the Kryptonians arrive at Earth, Zod commits to the genocide of the human race to restore Krypton with the world engine. This is symbolized in a particularly eerie way when Kal-El is buried in a sea of human skulls on Zod's ship.
  • First Contact: This movie greatly deconstructs not only the concept of a superhero appearing for the first time, but humanity finding out that they're not alone and not even close to a match for their competition.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: The various soldiers try attacking the Kryptonians with small arms fire, and continue doing so even after they've realized the need to call in heavy artillery. Later on some of them use grenade launchers, to similarly useless effect. But it's not like they have any alternative.
  • Flashback Echo: After Kal-El's ship lands in Smallville, the film skips ahead to an adult Clark, so these are used several times to show his growing years.
  • Flight: While this is to be expected in a Superman story, it's very interestingly portrayed in this movie. Various incarnations of Superman have explained his ability to fly as coming from various sources, including his own telekinetic or electromagnetic field that works subconsciously. Here, it's shown that Kryptonians have to consciously try to fly. Further, in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot during his final battle with Zod, after Zod discards his armor, chunks of it briefly float around him when he achieves flight. This echoes Superman's first flight, where moments before taking off, he collects some sort of energy that makes the dust and snow around him react. So, it seems that in this movie, there's some sort of telekinetic, electromagnetic or gravitational aura that's emitted by kryptonians in flight.

    One of the many subtle indications that, while they do qualify as Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, Kryptonians are not superpowered in any way in their native environment. Zod, Faora, and Nam-Ek are insanely strong due to Krypton's much heavier gravity and bulletproof thanks to their high-tech armor, but are unable to actually fly. Their strength grants them the ability to pull off incredible jumps. After continued exposure to Earth's superpowering conditions, Zod eventually gains the ability to fly, use heat vision, and survive unprotected in a vacuum.
  • Flight Is the Final Power: Clark is shown as a child and young adult, mastering his Super-Strength, x-ray vision, and other powers. But it's not until he receives tutelage from a holographic version of his father Jor-El that he focuses enough to learn to fly and takes up the mantle of Superman.
    • A villainous version: General Zod and the other Kryptonians begin developing similar powers when they reach Earth, after being exposed to the yellow sun. After showing his destructive power via heat vision and strength, Zod proves his adaptability by learning flight faster than Clark did, putting them on the same power level.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: Enforced. Superman being a beacon of hope is a major theme of the movie.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • This dialogue between young Clark and Martha (the first part is an inversion of what eventually appears, however):
      Clark: The world's too big, Mom.
      Martha: Then make it small. Focus on my voice. Pretend it's an island out in the ocean. Can you see it?
      Clark: I see it...
      Martha: Then fly to it!
    • Near the beginning, Lois is attacked by a Kryptonian Robot and Clark doesn't hesitate to crush it like a can to save her, despite it being one of the links to his long-sought past. This decision is mirrored in the finale.
    • During the final fight between Superman and General Zod one of the many things that gets destroyed in the process is an oil tanker with a company logo on it. The name of the company that the logo belongs to? LexCorp .
    • The Wayne Enterprises satellite.
    • Zod telling Superman about how every act of violence he's ever committed has been for the greater good of his people. Superman would then kill Zod to save humanity.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • A freeze frame of Zod's threat video (at 0:29) will show the Superman shield.
    • When Clark returns to Kent Farm and Martha sends their dog to greet him, a LexCorp truck passes through the background. It advertises "Better farming through technology".
    • You can spot a LexCorp building during the Zod/Superman fight. Zod also throws a tanker truck with the company logo at Superman during said fight.
    • After Zod smacks Superman into a construction site, Superman crashes into a "Days without accident" sign. Blink and you'll miss it: the impact knocks off the numbers and changes from 106 to 0 at the moment of impact.
    • The satellite that is destroyed in the fight belongs to Wayne Enterprises.
    • If you are paying attention to the flashback scene where Clark is pushed, there's a sign for "Sullivan's auto parts".
    • During the scene when Zod activates his heat vision for the first time, you can see a poster on an office desk next to Superman which reads: "Keep Calm and Call Batman".

    Tropes G to M 
  • Gender Flip: In place of Jimmy Olsen at the Daily Planet is a young woman named Jenny (apparently from close-ups of her name tag, Jurwich). However Jenny's last name is confirmed NOT to be Olsen, so there is room for a red-headed male photographer in the sequel.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Jonathan Kent smiles reassuringly at Clark just before the tornado takes him.
  • LEGO Genetics: Jor-El disagrees with the practice that everyone on Krypton has their future decided for them before they are born, but it is also the reason he steals the codex, and infuses it with Kal-El's cells, presumably so that Clark would have the means to basically clone the species back to existence on Earth.
  • Giant Flyer: H'Raka, Jor-El's Kryptonian dragon.
  • Good Shepherd: In the church scene, Clark confides in a priest about his identity and his next move. The priest encourages him to "take a leap of faith" in regards to trusting humans.
  • Green Aesop: According to Jor-El, the core of Krypton became unstable because the Kryptonians depleted their planet's natural resources, and were forced to draw energy from the planet's core to keep their society going.
  • Ground-Shattering Landing: And some Ground Shattering Takeoffs.
  • Gunship Rescue:
    • Surprisingly, this is achieved more often by the villains than the heroes, as a couple of Kryptonian fighters are part of their limited arsenal and it outclasses anything humans have.
    • The military does help a little with their A-10 Warthogs being able to at least stun and/or disorient their targets, but can't deal any real damage.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Sometimes, there is no easy answer to a moral problem. Sometimes, you have to break your own moral code to serve the greater good. Superman learns that lesson all too well when he is forced to kill General Zod to save humanity. The movie never portrays this as an easy choice for Superman, he is visibly pained for being forced to take a life, but in the end, he chose the mission and innocent lives over his own personal comfort.
  • Heavy Worlder: One reason why Kryptonians are so strong on Earth, the other being yellow sun radiation.
  • Heal It With Fire: Lois is injured by a Kryptonian security robot when she discovers the ship. Clark notes that she's hemorrhaging internally and proceeds to cauterize the injury with his heat vision.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: When Jor-El armors up to defend his home from Zod and his followers, he stops short of donning a helmet. The ensuing duel with Zod has them both firmly in the grip of this trope, armored from throat to toes in heavy, very functional armor... but with heads completely exposed (which leads to each of them punching the other in the face — a lot.
  • Hero Insurance:
    • The fights in Metropolis must have killed hundreds, if not thousands of people, and run up a repair bill in the billions (three guesses whose Mega-Corp is going to end up bankrolling that?). Some time is taken to show how terrifying it would be to be a civilian on the ground with buildings collapsing in every direction. However, it's still nothing compared to the total destruction of humanity.
    • This extends to Smallville too. Its downtown is almost leveled by the fight there and includes an explosion at a gas station.
    • Superman fights Zod and/or his warriors in Smallville and later Metropolis despite being outclassed, and so a lot of damage happens. His attempts at knocking or throwing them away are invariably countered, at one point, reaching Earth's orbit. Most of the time, he's smashed into buildings by their attacks but sometimes he does the same (granted, into apparently empty or unfinished ones). The damage is compounded by attempts by the US military to intervene. Superman later also willfully trashes a multi-million dollar spy drone that has been snooping on him to make a point to the military to get off his back.
  • A Hero Is Born: The film begins with Superman's birth on Krypton.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: After the oil rig fire, Clark climbs out of the ocean and steals some clothes. He rejects wet clothes from a clothesline (it's raining) before grabbing some from the back of a car.
  • Heroes Love Dogs: The Kents have a pet dog named Shelby when Clark is a child, and another dog named Dusty when Clark is an adult. Trailers also show Clark petting dogs.
  • Heroic BSoD: After he kills Zod, Superman goes through this.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Jonathan Kent dies to protect Clark's secret, convinced that doing otherwise would be too dangerous for Clark and the future of the human race. This seriously traumatizes Clark.
    • Col. Hardy and Dr. Hamilton go down to ensure the Kryptonians are sent back to the Phantom Zone. While their deaths are not confirmed, the DCEU franchise ending without any further reference to these characters' fate more or less makes this count.
  • High-Altitude Battle: Superman and Zod briefly take their final battle to Earth's orbit.
  • High-Speed Battle: Superman's fights vs Faora and Nam-Ek, and vs Zod in Smallville and Metropolis, and as well as being highly destructive thanks to the Kryptonians.
  • Holding Hands:
    • Quite a few moments between Superman and Lois. But it is subverted when they are taken captive by Zod and it seems that Superman stretched out his hand to comfort Lois but he actually sneaked the Kryptonian key to her in case Zod or his minions search him for it.
    • A platonic example occurs when Jenny is trapped underneath fallen debris and Perry held her hand to keep her calm and continues to do so even as they both believe they would die.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Averted in that the populace has never dealt with superpowered heroes or villains before (or, as future movies show, not to the level of Superman), unlike their comics counterparts. Screaming and running is about all the populace can do.
  • Hollywood Science: Inverted. The presences of Kryptonite far from the planet, when it should not have been traveling faster than the explosion, is explained during Zod's exposition. When the ship they are on goes into hyperdrive and then appears in its new spot, bits of the planet were carried with them, meaning that free-floating Kryptonite is now in different parts of the galaxy.
  • Hostile Terraforming: Zod tries to turn Earth into a new Krypton using a World Engine. Not only is the process incredibly destructive, but Krypton's atmosphere is toxic to humans. When Jor-El tries to persuade Zod not to do this, appealing to the fact that Earth's environment gives Kryptonians super powers and they can live side-by-side with humanity, Zod says he doesn't care about the humans and he doesn't want to have to adjust to the enhanced senses.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: It takes Clark a few tries to figure out how to fly. Clark and the Kryptonians also have to master Super-Senses. Clark has an advantage over the Kryptonians until they get a handle on their new powers (and even once they get that handle, Clark still has years of experience over them).
  • Human Aliens: Kryptonians, as always, look perfectly human despite their alien biology.
  • Humanity on Trial: A looser, informal version of this: the surviving Kryptonians demand that humanity turn over Clark or "suffer the consequences." Clark, knowing that Zod is a dangerous man and hurt that the governments of Earth are hunting him (and imprisoning Lois to find out who Clark is) goes to a church to talk out his doubts about humanity's worthiness with its minister. The minister convinces him that humanity deserves at least a shot, so he surrenders to the authorities instead of staying hidden.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: According to writer David Goyer, Zod would have wanted to work together with Jor-El to make a new world where their people could live, but whereas Jor-El wanted for Kryptonians and humans to live side by side, Zod was following his genetic programing that told him to look out for Krypton only. Zod considers killing Jor-El a tragic accident, and erasing his memories from the ship's computer was something Zod considered a great loss, but had to be done if Krypton was to be recreated on earth.
  • Idiot Ball: Several examples.
    • Krypton's leaders for mining the planet's core hollow instead of seeking resources on other planets, as they had in the past. Krypton is way ahead of Earth technologically, but even we know that a planet needs a core to survive. Justified, however, in that the Kryptonians are intensely xenophobic. While they have the capability to go off-world, even before considering their potential for superpowers, it's considered extremely distasteful to do so. Zod is one of the very few who see value on other worlds, unfortunately for everyone else.
    • The military, whose repeated attempts to shoot the superpowered, angry, enemy Kryptonians or your one ally from their kind do more harm to civilians and property than it is worth.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: The young Clark's reaction after finding out he's a super-powered alien.
    Clark: Can't I just keep pretending I'm your son?
  • In a Single Bound: Superman and the other Kryptonians get around by great leaps before they learn to fly. This is perhaps a nod to the fact that Superman could only leap in early issues of the comic, which explains the classic "able to leap tall buildings in a single bound" line.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: The space suits seen when Zod tells of his team's exploration of former Kryptonian offworld outposts feature in-helmet lights to keep everyone's faces visible.
  • Incendiary Exponent: When Clark rips the bulkhead door off to rescue the rig workers from the fire, he is completely unfazed by the combusting fumes wafting off his naked torso.
  • Interspecies Romance: Superman and Lois Lane.
  • Invading Refugees: Zod's army even attempts to recreate Krypton on Earth.
  • Invincible Hero: Significantly downplayed. While Superman retains his almost-Nigh-Invulnerability, the scale of threat he faces in the movie is so great that it avoids the usual pitfall of making the character too powerful and therefore boring.
  • Ironic Echo: "A good death is its own reward." First said by Faora to Colonel Hardy when she's about to face him in a knife fight (which Superman interrupts). Later echoed by Hardy before he knocks Faora back into the Phantom Zone.
    • A more dramatic but subtle use of this trope: A vortex, the tornado, claims the life of Jonathan, as he was unwilling to allow Clark to jeopardize himself and his freedom by trying to save him, and both were still not fully knowledgeable then of the extent of Clark's powers. Later as Superman, Clark has his allies create another vortex, the singularity, to eliminate the Kryptonian invaders, as they were unwilling to let go of their dead homeworld or coexist on Earth or find another planet, and Clark was fully knowledgeable of what they planned to do and the powers any Kryptonian living on Earth would have.
  • Irony: General Zod knocks off the Man of Steel... with a steel.
  • It Only Works Once: The first time Superman and Zod fight, Zod's helmet gets broken and subjects him to Sensory Overload. By the time they have their rematch, Zod has learned to focus his senses.
  • It's a Small World, After All: After flying up to orbit Superman, Zod, and the satellite debris fall right back down into Metropolis.
  • Jar Potty: The military isn't exactly welcoming to Lois when she arrives to cover their research into what they found in the ice. All they provide for her to stay in is a cot in a storage room.
    Lois: What if I need to tinkle?
    Colonel Hardy: There's a bucket in the corner.
  • The Joy of First Flight: When Superman learns to fly, it is treated with great gravitas, as it's one of the last of his superpowers he learns, at which point he has fully become the superhero we know.
  • Karma Houdini: Glen Woodburn, the Jerkass who sold Lois out to the military and declared that Superman should surrender to Zod because it is his fault the Kryptonians came to Earth, disappears for the rest of the movie.
  • Killing for a Tissue Sample: The Kryptonian survivors need an object called the Codex, which contains the DNA plans for reconstructing their species. One of General Zod's scientists discovers that the Codex has been fused with Superman. All it'd take to retrieve it is a cellular extraction, but Zod has vengeance on his mind, and asks if Superman has to be alive for them to retrieve it. Turns out he doesn't.
  • Kirk Summation: Zod begs Superman not to destroy his ship, saying without it, Krypton cannot be restored. Superman says, "Krypton had its chance!" and destroys it.
  • Kneel Before Zod: Notably averted, this Zod never forces anyone to kneel before him, despite being an updated version of the Trope Namer. At one point during the final battle, however, Superman is kneeling due to sheer fatigue on the platform of a building still under construction, as Zod hovers right in front of him. That's right, Superman is kneeling before Zod. Also reversed, as at another point Zod falls to his knees before Superman.
  • Knight Templar: Zod believes he's ultimately doing what's best for his people. In fact, due to Krypton using Designer Babies to fulfill roles in their society, he cannot help it.
    Zod: No matter how violent, how cruel, every action I take is for the greater good of my people.
  • Kryptonite Factor:
    • Actual Kryptonite does not appear in the movie, but following more modern interpretations of Superman lore it is ALL of Earth ecosystem that gives Superman his powers, not just having a yellow sun. As a result changing the Earth-like conditions in any form weakens him to some degree, and all out exposure to Krypton's native environment makes him human-level.
    • On another front, young Clark had a difficult time adjusting to his Super-Senses before learning to control them, likewise Zod and the other Kryptonians are overwhelmed by direct exposure to Earth's environment and the yellow sun.
  • Kubrick Stare: Superman and Col. Hardy have moments of this, but the biggest Stare comes from Zod when his plan is foiled — and it is terrifying:
    Zod: My soul.... what you...have taken...FROM ME!!!
  • Kung-Fu Sonic Boom: During the final fight in Metropolis, General Zod rushes Superman, and their collision shatters and collapses the side of a concrete building.
    • Every time they punch each other, a shock wave emanates from the impact zone.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice:
    • Once he loses the beard, the audience is treated to Superman's very strong jawline.
    • Gen. Swanwick's is even more impressive.
  • Large Ham: Zod is deliciously over the top.
    Zod: You believe your son is safe? I will find him. I will reclaim what you have taken from us! I will find him. I will find him, Lara. I WILL FIND HIM!
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A dumb, mean-spirited trucker harasses a waitress and spits at and pours beer on Clark for defending her. What does Clark do? He retaliates by smashing the trucker's ride, thus making it impossible to deliver his lumber.
  • Last Villain Stand: Zod does this when his entire army is sealed in the Phantom Zone with his ship and all of his weapons. He even masters a full set of Kryptonian powers for the fight.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Superman's "What do you think?" at the end of the second trailer seems aimed at the audience as well as Lois.
  • Lens Flare: The trailers and especially the posters exhibit this, in instances like Superman hovering in front of the sun.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: during the last part if the Battle of Smallville, Colonel Hardy tells his air cover to engage "Danger Close," meaning "Don't worry about friendly fire." The pilot wishes him good luck.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Any Kryptonian under a yellow sun is this. Even in their heavy Powered Armor, Zod's soldiers can pull off a Flash Step. Take the armor off, and they're still just as strong, and they get even faster. In fact, they need to lose the armor to fly. And then there's Clark, who is a Kryptonian adapted from a lifetime of life under a yellow sun...
  • Lighter and Softer: Man of Steel is somewhat lighter and softer than Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy, and is significantly lighter than its own sequel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which goes to far darker places despite its more overt humor.
  • Living Ark: Clark is revealed to be this trope for Kryptonians, as the Codex which contains all the Kryptonian's genetic potential and DNA plans for reconstructing the species is infused with cells, meaning the species can be cloned back into existence from his biomass. General Zod and his minions are Kryptonian survivors who seek to extract the Codex from Superman and terraform the Earth to bring Krypton back to life, and kill anyone who gets in their way.
  • Logo Joke: The Warner Brothers, Legendary Pictures, DC Comics and Syncopy Inc logos appear in swirls and bends of Kryptonian metal, similar to a Kryptonian computer display.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: The Kryptonian brute is shown ripping apart an A-10 and crushing the pilot before they could eject. Because it is seen from a distance it isn't too gruesome, but there is no mistaking the "pink mist" spraying into the wind.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: In the scene with Baby Clark, everything's hanging out. A baby, obviously, but the fact that they got male genitalia of any sort into a PG-13 film is fairly impressive.
    • For the TV version, they increased the flare covering the baby, effectively hiding everything.
  • Man on Fire: Clark when he is saving people from the burning oil rig at the beginning. Though because of who he is, he isn't fazed. Everything but his pants burn off.
  • Madness Mantra: Zod repeating "I will find him!" over and over is used to illustrate him slowly losing his mind after first being defeated.
  • Messianic Archetype: Superman is modeled after Jesus as a symbol of hope and savior figure, in case you missed all of the clues:
    • In the church as Clark debates whether or not to surrender to Zod and sacrifice himself to save humanity: the stained-glass window in the background depicts Christ at the garden of Gethsemane, debating the exact same thing.
    • Superman is also stated to be 33 years old, which is the traditional age of Jesus at the time of his sacrifice.
    • Superman looks at the Earth while his father tells him that he can "save them all", then steps into space and assumes a gratuitous crucifix pose for a few seconds.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Played with. In a nod to the Avengers, Nam-Ek catches Superman's leg before take-off and looks to do to Clark what the Hulk did to Loki. Nam-Ek slams Clark into the ground and heaves him up again but instead of repeating the attack on the other side, Nam-Ek hoists Clark up and throws him into the ground full-force.
  • Microts: For their attempted coup, General Zod and his followers are sentenced to somatic reconditioning for 300 "cycles", presumably meaning Kryptonian years but it is left vague.
  • Mind Probe: Lois mentions that Zod and his followers used one on her off-screen. Superman says he was subjected to it as well. In his case this leads to a hallucination where Zod shows him his plans for Earth, and he sinks into a field of human skulls.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: During Zod's attempted coup, Jor-El manages to kick the crap out of Zod in a fistfight. Unfortunately, while Jor-El's distracted by the launch of Clark's ship, Zod pulls a knife and stabs him.
  • Mission Control: Jor-El's hologram becomes this to Lois and Superman on Zod's ship to help them escape.
  • Monumental Damage: A good part of Chicago — um, Metropolis — is destroyed.
  • Mood Lighting: The film has a dark bluish tint when Clark is out in the world, while Smallville scenes use yellowish lighting instead.
  • Mood Whiplash: From the death of Zod to Superman addressing the military on his need to keep a secret identity. After such an intense scene as the former, the latter seems almost downright lighthearted.
  • Morton's Fork: Superman is faced with a critical dilemma where he can keep fighting Zod (his superior in hand to hand combat and gradually becoming his equal in superpowers) without lethal intent which would result in countless more deaths, including a family right in front of them caught in the crossfire, or kill him and save the family and the rest of humanity Zod is literally threatening with extinction, but at the cost of dirtying his hands and becoming the only Kryptonian alive. He chooses the latter.
  • Motive Rant: Zod has two: one where he tells Jor-El how he's going to save Krypton. And the second has him tell Kal-El how he's going to kill every human he finds in revenge for Superman taking his purpose in life.
  • Mouthscreen: We get a close-up of Clark's bully's mouth when he calls Clark a "dick splash".
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: The red and blue in Superman's costume are darker and deeper than in the comics and previous movies. Notice how his "S" shield shines more and more brightly as the presumably yellow base of the suit appears after continual attacks. In contrast, the enemy Kryptonian suits and their crests remain black.
  • Mugging the Monster: A random diner patron decides to verbally abuse, pour his drink over, and assault a server who stops him from sexually harassing a waitress, only to find himself physically unable to move the tall, muscular man. So the guy decides to throw a cup at his head as he walks away (which also doesn't faze Clark). He later walks outside to find his truck crumpled up and stuck onto some sharpened pieces of lumber.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Zod boasts during his fight with Superman that he has trained his whole life to be the perfect warrior.
    Zod: Where did you train? ON A FARM!?/
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.

    Tropes N to S 
  • Nature Versus Nurture: Zod is a destructive Knight Templar but he was bred and raised to be a soldier through bloodline and genetic manipulation and the workings of Kryptonian society. Clark is descended from Kryptonian scientists, but he had a natural conception and birth and was raised by Kansas farmers. Though the film hints at Clark being geeky as a child, he chooses a different career in life which would have been impossible on Krypton.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: Zod's speeches about saving the world from decline by rooting out inferior bloodlines (and then genociding an inferior species, i.e. humans) are eerily reminiscent of a certain ideology. He also calls Jor-El's and Lara Lor-Van's conception and birthing of a child outside the eugenics program "heresy".
  • Neck Lift: Faora does this to Martha Kent, and later to her son before slamming Superman into the floor.
  • Neck Snap:
    • Faora does this to a few soldiers who get in her way.
    • After a drawn-out aerial battle with Zod, this is how Superman finally kills him. The force required to do so creates a shockwave when he does it. The shock of having to kill someone with his bare hands leaves him traumatized.
  • Never Found the Body: Although the C-17 delivers its payload, the idea was to send Zod's Mooks back to the Phantom Zone; which means they may not be dead, and all the people on the plane still kicking it may be trapped with everyone the Kryptonians ever threw into the Phantom Zone. There was, however, still a crash before the singularity opened, which likely killed the fragile humans on board.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers adopted a very dark look and tone in order to attract the same viewers of The Dark Knight Trilogy. They also tended to play very somber music and philosophical voiceovers in order to make the film seem very intellectual and quiet. However, the quiet moments showcased in those trailers are perhaps the only ones in the movie, which is in fact actually full of massive city destroying action. Some of the louder scenes were even dubbed over with sad music rather than the actual heroic themes during then.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • When Clark tells Zod how he managed to control his super-senses, Zod is able to make use of the information to become that much more dangerous.
    • When Clark begins exploring the Kryptonian spacecraft he finds in the Artic, he inadvertently sets off a beacon that alerts Zod and his followers to the presence of Earth. Assuming the humans hadn't already set it off with their equipment.
    • Not really their fault, but the Air Force pilots' missiles are more dangerous to the people on the ground due to the gravity field pulling them down early.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Zod's decision to also take Lois hostage for additional leverage and information and to hold her in a room that has a console. The console has a slot for the spaceship key that Clark slipped her so they wouldn't find it on him, and inserting it allows Jor-El's Virtual Ghost to upload to and commandeer the ship, help Lois and Clark escape, and give them crucial information.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Subverted. Zack Snyder says that the destruction in Metropolis, including the fight between Zod and Clark, resulted in the deaths of thousands of casualties and billions in damages, despite Clark's best efforts to stop anyone from dying, and that these facts will come to play a big role in the films to follow.
  • No-Sell:
    • Clark's shirt catches on fire after saving workers from a failing oil rig. The fireproof Clark remains unfazed.
    • When a jerk tries to push Clark over, he practically pushes himself over off Clark's chest.
    • Zod barely notices being hit by falling debris. Bullets simply bounce off all the Kryptonians without even making them flinch. However, the A-10's Gatling guns were able to temporarily stun all three caught in their path, and a missile to the face knocks Faora out (though she isn't visibly harmed otherwise).
  • No Such Thing as Space Jesus: Played straight when young Clark asks his father if God is responsible for giving him power, Jonathan says no and shows him the space pod that brought him to Earth. This also counts as a subversion of If Jesus, Then Aliens.
  • Nothing but Skulls: Clark sinks into a pit of these during Zod's Mind Probe.
  • Not Quite Flight: Superman's first attempt at flight was this. He faceplants into (or more through) a mountain after it flops... And afterwards, he really does figure it out.
  • Not of This Earth: Jonathan Kent mentions that he had a tiny piece of Clark's ship checked out by a scientist who said that it didn't match anything in the periodic table.
  • Not So Above It All: Clark, considering what happened to the trucker's rig...
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: At the beginning of the film, Jor El is trying to convince the The Supreme Council of Krypton that leaving Krypton behind and start anew is the best way to save everyone. Moments later, Zod comes in and disbands the council, citing that all they do is argue instead of addressing the problem of Krypton imploding.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: AI Jor El a few times during the escape scene with Lois.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The non-verbal version is all over the priest's face in the first few seconds after Clark tells him who he is.
    • Also the fighter pilot as he sees Faora leap at his plane.
      Pilot: Oh, Shit...
  • One-Winged Angel: Zod starts out like his fellow soldiers jumping around at high heights and having Super-Strength and speed. But when he breaks out of his battle suit during the final battle, he becomes as equally powerful as Superman, with the ability to fly and use heat vision.
  • One-Woman Wail: A serene version is the centerpiece of the song accompanying the first trailer (taken from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring).
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: A high-tech version in Kal-El's Kryptonian memory stick, which he finds in his transport pod and wears around his neck for 20-odd years before discovering what it's for. Unlike possibly any other OPT in history, it actually contains his father.
  • Parents in Distress: Zod makes the rather boneheaded decision to threaten Martha. Superman is pissed.
  • Parting-Words Regret: 17 year old Clark rudely dismisses Jonathan's plea to keep him in farming, wondering why he must always listen to him because he's not really his father. Then the tornado hits, and Jonathan sacrifices himself to save a dog to keep Clark from showing his powers.
  • Planar Shockwave: Seen when Krypton blows.
  • Planetary Core Manipulation: In the opening act, the Kryptonians have been harnessing their planet's core due to lack of resources, despite Jor-El's insistence that doing so would spell doom for them all.
  • Planetary Nation: Krypton is governed by a high council. This isn't explained in depth, though.
  • Play-Along Prisoner: Clark is naturally one of these when he willingly goes into military custody. Lois indicates that he agreed to be handcuffed, and he explains it as a way of allowing his captors to feel secure. Shortly afterward, he effortlessly breaks the handcuffs to show that he is complying out of good faith, not because the military could actually hold him.
    Clark: It wouldn't be much of a surrender if I resisted.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Platonic example when Jenny is trapped underneath fallen debris and she begs her boss not to leave her alone. He complies.
  • Posthumous Character:
    • Jonathan Kent dies in one of several flashbacks.
    • Jor-El continues to interact with several characters as a Virtual Ghost.
      Zod: Still lecturing me, Jor-El. Even in death.
  • Power Limiter: The Kryptonians' Powered Armor filter their Super-Senses whilst on Earth. When Superman breaks Zod's face mask after repeatedly punching him in the face, he suffers Sensory Overload. He adapts, though.
  • Powered Armor: The enemy Kryptonians all wear it, with Zod removing his at the climax. It's bulletproof and has a self-contained atmosphere. Given the effect of Earth on Kryptonians, it seems doubtful that it enhances their strength to any meaningful degree. Underneath is a form-fitting mail-like body suit, which essentially is all that Clark needs to wear on Earth (and the cape, since this is a cool look).
  • Power Incontinence: Young Clark has some difficulty controlling his Super-Senses initially, resulting in Sensory Overload. His Eye Beams pose a similar problem. The same goes for the Kryptonians, who need their Powered Armor to isolate them from Earth's atmosphere. Zod eventually compensates for the Sensory Overload, and gets a hang of his Eye Beams fairly quickly after he accidentally demolishes a building.
  • Predecessor Casting Gag: In the European French dub, Superman's biological father Jor-El is voiced by Emmanuel Jacomy. He voiced Superman himself in the French dub of the DC Animated Universe, a few video games, and several other animated adaptations such as many of the DC Universe Animated Original Movies.
  • Principles Zealot: Pa Kent took keeping young Clark's alien nature a secret very, very seriously, to the point of willingly letting himself die to protect it. Although perhaps it wasn't so much the principle of the thing as the worst-case-scenario of it.
  • Product Placement: The film made $170 million in deals with promotional partners even before it was released.
    • During Superman and Zod's battle in Smallville, they rip through a 7-11.
    • Pete is stated to work at an IHOP, which is where Lois finds him. Superman and Zod eventually crash through Pete's IHOP during their fight.
    • Martha works at Sears, as evidenced by the Sears uniform just visible beneath her coat when Lois comes knocking. Superman and Zod finish fighting in front of a Sears. When Superman takes off, the Sears storefront takes up most of the screen.
    • When Lois is following Clark onto the ancient ship, she places her Nikon camera atop a surface before lifting herself up. The logo is blatantly placed in front of the camera and with full view of the near-mint device. Just before she triggers a Kryptonian robot, the camera zooms in on the flash, which also has the Nikon logo on it. After the camera is broken, there's a brief closeup of the camera being broken, with the logo conveniently being legible.
    • In the very next scene, we see an airman sleeping with his feet on the desk. As the readings on the monitor start to go haywire, there's a brief shot of the corner of the screen, part of his boots, and the monitor's HP Compaq label with the model number.
    • Played with by having in-universe brands appear in plain view, such as a tanker truck and building site sporting the LexCorp logo and a satellite with the Wayne Enterprises logo.
  • Punched Across the Room: Happens whenever a Kryptonian punches anything, unless he or she is also holding on to it.
  • Punctuated Pounding: "YOU THINK!! *PUNCH* YOU CAN THREATEN! *PUNCH* MY MOTHER?!?"
  • Puny Earthlings: The movie does a good job of showcasing just how hopelessly outmatched humans are against Kryptonians. At this point, nothing on Earth is prepared to deal with threats of this scale and magnitude.
  • Putting on the Reich: Zod's crew includes an inexplicably German-accented and longcoat-clad Mengele Expy who tries to experiment on Superman.
  • Race Lift: Laurence Fishburne as the first non-white Perry White in any version of Superman.
  • Rage Quit: After Clark is confronted by the Jerkass truck driver at the bar, he took off his apron and walked away. That would have been the end of it, had the trucker let it go.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: A Kryptonian scout ship crash-lands on Earth and spends 18,000 years buried underneath the ice in the Arctic. But when Clark finds it all systems seem to be in working order. Implicitly justified because Superman would not have been sent to Earth if Jor-El hadn't been able to make contact with that ship.
  • Ramming Always Works: After Faora attacks the plane carrying Superman's pod, Colonel Hardy rams it into Zod's ship. Played with in that it's not the ramming that does the job, but Superman's ship detonating. Crashing the cargo plane was merely the last option left to deliver the payload since Faora was wrecking it.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: In one particularly important scene, Clark goes to a church and makes a confession to a priest. Clark's actual religious leanings are never made clear aside from vaguely asking if "God" is responsible for his powers when he didn't know about his alien heritage, so it's just ambiguous enough that the audience can assume what they want to assume. Writer David Goyer suggested that Clark was raised Lutheran (which would be very likely in rural Kansas).
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Zod in the final battle, when he cuts loose with his full set of Superman-like powers—including heat vision.
    • Inverted, as when Lois first sees Clark in the cave, his eyes are glowing red as well. He soon cauterizes her injury with his heat vision.
  • Red Shirt Army: While they're wearing green instead of red, the human forces count as this against the Kryptonians.
  • The Remnant: Zod and his followers position themselves as the sole remnant of the Kryptonian civilization and seek to restore it.
  • Required Secondary Powers:
    • The scene where Clark locks himself in a closet hangs a massive lampshade on why these are needed.
    • In another scene, it doesn't matter how strong he is...Clark can't hold up part of an oil rig if the platform he's standing on bends and collapses under his feet.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: After Superman and his plucky human pals thwart Zod's efforts to recreate Earth into a Krypton-like landscape and quite possibly killing Zod's entire crew, or subjecting them to the Fate Worse than Death experience of being stuck in the Phantom Zone, thus taking away his primary purpose for existing, Zod goes crazy and tries to destroy Metropolis — with the rest of the world presumably next — as a particularly brutal and violent assault against everything Superman has ever worked for.
  • Robot Buddy: Kelex and Kelor, floating droids serving the El family. The former is more prominent.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Jor-El believes that everybody has good in them, and it just needs someone to help guide them to act on their potential. Throughout the movie, we see that he's mostly right, as people around Clark do kind things either thanks to Clark's influence or even without it.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Kill the rampaging Zod or allow him to kill innocents? Superman chooses the former.
    • That Clark has to choose between saving the home (Earth) and people (humans) he knows and the home (Krypton) and people (Kryptonians) he never knew must have been extremely unpleasant for him.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Clark can't stop helping people, due to his powers. It's bad enough that he had to watch his father die.
  • Scars are Forever: Zod gets slashed down the side of his face during the Krypton prologue. The resulting scar is still very much visible when he shows up on Earth.
  • Scenery Gorn: The devastated Metropolis downtown, and, obviously, Krypton.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: At one point during the battle of Metropolis, Superman and Zod fly out to orbit, where the latter grabs a satellite and chucks it at the former. Even though Superman and the remains of the satellite are in freefall, with no way to control their descent, and Zod aimed at him rather than at the city itself, they plummet right back into Metropolis as though they were anchored to it, where in reality they should have overshot the city by hundreds if not thousands of miles.
  • Schizo Tech: Kryptonians have developed guns, aircraft, and spacecraft but still use winged mounts as well (though this could be an example of their advanced genetic technology).
  • Screaming Birth: Superman's mother gives birth to him under much pain.
  • Secret-Keeper:
    • The Kents, obviously.
    • Lois becomes one, being the only person at the Daily Planet to see Superman up close. She even jokingly welcomes him to the "Planet" when she sees him at the end.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Pete Ross and presumably the rest of Clark's peers in Smallville.
  • Self-Restraint: Superman elects to surrender to the Army to demonstrate they can trust him, even though they have no real way to hold him.
  • Sensory Overload:
    • A conventional blinding flash is used by Jor-El's service robot Kel-Ex to blind the Zod loyalists who were escorting him from the council chamber after Zod instigated his coup.
    • Young Clark suffered from this and the Kents taught him to be able to focus on just what he needed.
    • Happens to Zod when his helmet is damaged by a repeat pounding from Superman, leaving him unable to filter his Super-Senses, though he adapts later on.
  • Shaky Cam: A common criticism of the cinematography.
  • Shed Armor, Gain Speed: On Earth, Zod and his troops are faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but aren't actually capable of flight like Kal-El. Then during their final duel, Zod discards his armor and becomes capable of flight, as well.
  • Shooting Superman: All the Kryptonians gets shot at quite a bit, usually to minimal effect. There's a reason for it, though; the military doesn't know about the Kryptonians' invulnerability at the start of the battle in Smallville; and they actually manage to knock out Faora with an A-10 Thunderbolt missile. Colonel Hardy can be chalked up to determination. At the finale, their weapons' fire doesn't hurt Faora, but it does delay her long enough for their actual plan to work.
  • Shout-Out: So many that it deserves its own page.
  • Slasher Smile: Superman, of all people, in battle. So, probably for the best that he rarely smiles the entire film. He does smile normally "at ease". Well, his smile when he learns to fly is one of genuine happiness. So it's not all that bad to see Supes smiling.
  • Small Steps Hero: Clark refuses to not help people, even if it means blowing his secret. Though he agrees with his father that keeping his secret is For the Greater Good, he will risk it for something as "small" as stopping a drunk from leching an unwilling woman.
  • Space Age Stasis: Kryptonian technology is stated to have stagnated. A 20,000 year old ship buried deep beneath the ice in Canada is able to recognize and upload Krypton's own version of a flash drive that was only created 33 years ago. Zod's crew also found a fully functional World Engine after thousands of years of being abandoned.
    • On one hand, Jor-El did know about the 20,000 year old ship and the Genesis chamber onboard BEFORE he had the flash drive made. On the other, both ships designed by him sport the same flash drive I/O port.
  • Space Is an Ocean: Zod's viral message refers to him crossing "an ocean of stars."
  • Space Travel Veto: Krypton once had a mighty space colonization program, but as time went on society stagnated by its own genetically-engineered dividing between houses, they just allowed it to die (as well as many colonists who were cut off). This is one of the big reasons why, when the planet finally exploded, Kal-El was the only survivor.
  • Spandex, Latex, or Leather: Gone are the traditional smooth "strongman" tights for a more synthetic-looking Super-suit, which has a more "alien", textured appearance to explicitly show its Kryptonian origin. The movie shows a logical origin of its use or purpose: virtual Jor-El uses the resources of the fallen scout ship to provide this chain mail-like garment for Kal-El (likely the only needed protection, given Kal-El's natural powers), and Zod and his army shows that they wear one of these mail-like suits underneath their Kryptonian battle armor, which also provides a compatible atmosphere.
  • Starfish Robots: Kryptonian robots generally consist of egg-like shapes with the occasional oddly-placed appendage and a section devoted to storing a morphing liquid metal that displays images. The world engine uses this liquid metal to form ultra-speedy amorphous tentacles to attack Superman.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Our first glimpse of our hero is an ultrasound of him formed by the metallic hologram projection his parents use. So our first image of him is of a man of steel.
    • Zod attacks Superman with an I-beam. Supes parries with an Eye Beam.
    • Since Krypton's codex (which contains the genetics for all to be created Kryptonians) is encoded in Kal-El's cells, he is literally an everyman.
    • When Superman confronts the World Engine in the Indian ocean, it attempts to crush him with the beam that is reordering Earth's gravity to Krypton's heavier one. Superman is not only not crushed, he flies straight up THROUGH the beam to destroy the machine. He literally has the ''weight of the/a world' on his shoulders, and he endures it.
    • After Zod hits Superman with that partially melted I-Beam, Supes is on his knees in front of the General. That's right. He kneels before Zod!
  • Stock Scream: A Wilhelm scream can be heard, when the plane carrying Kal-El's rocket depressurizes itself.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: It's easier to list the things that aren't blown up, impaled by flying objects or crushed in this film than the things that are.
  • Suicide by Cop: Zod, having lost everything that gave his life meaning and currently at Superman's mercy, starts blasting his heat vision at some civilians to force Superman to finish him.
  • Superhero Movie Villains Die: Zod.
  • Superheroes Wear Capes: Given the more grounded-in-reality treatment. Superman's cape puts him at a disadvantage in a fight several times, being so easy for his enemies to grab.
  • Superman Stays Out of Gotham:
    • Wonder Woman has been around in Man's world since 1918 and, although she restrained from helping mankind, will take part to the fight against Doomsday in Batman v Superman as she feels he is too big a threat to the world not to intervene again. The media coverage of the World Engine and its vibrations were likely felt worldwide, so she might have been wanting to step in against Zod and his crew, but she was probably too far away. It's probably better to consider the latter, given that Gal Gadot was cast over a year after the film came out, the decision to include Wonder Woman in the setting very likely came after Man of Steel was made.
    • Revised with Batman. The beginning of Batman v Superman shows that Bruce Wayne himself was in Metropolis during the battle. Not seeing him is justified, as Batman had no chance to prepare for the Kryptonians and would have been of no help against them.
  • Superpower Lottery: As befitting the Man of Steel and fellow Kryptonians much to their shock.
    • Flying Brick: Featuring the Trope Codifier, as well as the other Kryptonians on Earth.
    • Flight: Clark can break the sound barrier and engage in aerial combat.
    • Super-Strength: Adolescent Clark can push a school bus out of a river and adult Clark can lift an entire oil rig, and a more fully-realized Superman is able to still stand up underneath the force of the World Engine beam.
    • Nigh-Invulnerability:
      Lara: He'll be an outcast. They'll kill him.
      Jor-El: How?
    • Super-Senses: As a boy, Clark was overwhelmed by his super hearing and X-ray vision.
    • Super-Speed: While dashing away from gunfire from aircraft. Faora uses the Flash Step several times.
    • Eye Beams: Superman's heat vision blasts look more focused than Zod's. Both of them seem to find the ability painful to switch on and off.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: While this Superman is very clearly a Destructive Savior given the property damage and death toll of the Kryptonian invasion, It was certainly going to happen as:
    • Even an experienced and skilled super-powered hero wouldn't be able to avoid some damage if they were fighting another equally powered being.
    • That damage is going to go up when you increase the number of enemies.
    • That number increased further when the enemies are trained soldiers and used to bringing devastation and violence if only to distract or deceive their enemy never mind using civilian targets as a shield to psychologically shake the enemy.
    • The collateral-damage and catastrophic-death-toll of a battle in a densely-populated city like Metropolis is nightmarish if the hero has no experience in actual combat. The carnage left by Clark Kent and Zod's battle, not to mention the orphaned children and crippled survivors, in fact, directly leads to Batman's vendetta in the following film.
    • The Kryptonians' difficulty in dealing with their new super-senses. Imagine how you would feel if you could suddenly hear a spider walking over a wall, or a conversation in a building on the other side of the city - now multiply that by all the conversations happening in that city...
    • Though minor, Jonathan Kent is shown to be hesitant on Clark saving people. For instance, Jonathan saying "maybe" to Clark when questioned about whether Clark was supposed to have let the drowning kids die shows that even the wisest figure doesn't know how to resolve this dilemma. Usually in Superman stories, Jonathan always comes up with a solution and gives heartwarming advice. However, in this movie, he can't because he just doesn't know, it's an impossible question: the future of all mankind versus a dozen innocent lives.
  • Symbolic Serene Submersion: After the oil rig Clark is on blows up, he floats down into the sea below it in a Crucified Hero Shot. His Flashbacks take enough time to justify two lovely shots—one of his silhouette against the explosion on the surface, and one where he is framed beside a whale and its baby. The immersion is a turning point in the story, prompting him to muster his resolve.

    Tropes T to Z 
  • Tantrum Throwing:
    • General Zod throws a pickup truck into Mrs Clark's house when he's told the codex isn't hidden in the barn.
    • Clark, frustrated with hiding his power hence allowing bad things to happen, quietly totals the truck of a bullying jerk.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Superman after snapping Zod's neck.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Superman is temporarily traumatized by killing General Zod, not just because he's now the last Kryptonian, but because Zod had spelled out to him there was only two ways their battle could end. It's quite possible that this experience causes him to develop the "there's always another way" code (although that would make him self-deluded, mentally blocking out the obvious question: What was his third option, pull a Kryptonite prison out of Hammerspace?).
  • Together in Death: A non-romantic example: as the gravity field encroaches, Perry reaches out and holds Jenny's hand instead of leaving her to die alone.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Kryptonians in this adaptation. As mentioned in Idiot Ball, they turned so intensely xenophobic that they mined their planet to the point of self-destruction, and only Zod and Jor-El had the presence of mind to even consider acting to save their species.
  • Trapped in a Sinking Car: Young Clark Kent saves a busload of his classmates from meeting a watery fate despite his adopted parents warning him not to risk blowing his cover.
  • The Trickster: The Virtual Ghost of Jor-El. Judging by his amused grin, he's really enjoying himself screwing up the systems in Zod's ship, allowing Lois and Superman to escape capture.
  • Twist Ending: Deliberately invoked as per Word of God and to much fan controversy online - Kal explicitly killed Zod, an act which completely goes against the essence of the character as traditionally defined over the decades, thus marking this as the first mainstream interpretation of Superman who killed.
  • Unfulfilled Purpose Misery: General Zod, who sees it as his purpose in life to protect -and, after its destruction, rebuild- Krypton. When he believes Superman has destroyed any chance of that happening, he has a Villainous Breakdown.
    Zod: I exist only to protect Krypton. That is the sole purpose for which I was born. And every action I take, no matter how violent or how cruel, is for the greater good of my people. And now I have no people. MY SOUL! THAT IS WHAT YOU HAVE TAKEN FROM ME!
  • Ungrateful Bastard: A younger Clark saving a school bus full of children from drowning is met with much derision from some of his classmates. Subverted by Pete, who rats Clark out to his mother, who in turn confronts the Kents; but he seems to do so out of a sense of awe and appreciation and is visibly sheepish about it. He later is not only nicer to Clark but doesn't reveal his identity when Zod calls on Earth to do so.
  • The Unmasqued World: By the end of the movie, Earth is alerted to the existence of extraterrestrials and superheroes.
  • Up, Up and Away!: This is the adaptation that really gives you the sense that Superman doesn't do this just because, but he does it because it helps him. He actively flies in this pose almost every time he needs to really pick up speed. It also seems to help him guide his flight path.
  • Urban Ruins: During the massive battle at the end of Man of Steel, Metropolis is reduced to a smoke-filled wasteland for the survivors to straggle around while avoiding collapsing buildings.
  • Vestigial Empire: At the beginning of the movie, Kryptonian civilization is a shade of its former self, with its past glory of space exploration and colonization long gone.
  • Villain Ball: Zod's inability to compromise on his personal, genocidal vision for reviving Krypton ends up dooming his entire plan.
  • Villain Respect: When Colonel Hardy draws his knife on Faora after witnessing her slaughter his men and absorb countless bullets without even flinching, she seems genuinely impressed by his courage.
  • Virtual Ghost: Jor-El.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Kal is shown vomiting blood when his body negatively reacts to the atmosphere on Zod's ship.
  • Walking the Earth: Clark does this before becoming Superman, trying to blend in but performing "guardian angel" acts as needed.
  • Weak, but Skilled: The Kryptonians haven't adapted to Earth like Superman has, so they're vulnerable to the same Power Incontinence he got over and have had less time to gain strength from Earth's sun. However, having been bred to be soldiers, they are better fighters and learn the basics of their new abilities extremely fast. By the end, Zod has learned to control both his flight and his heat vision.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Sensory Overload to the Kryptonians. Good thing Superman learned how to control it and unfortunately, so does Zod.
  • We Can Rule Together: Justified Trope as Zod was created to be a soldier, not a scientist like Jor-El. However he's fully prepared to continue with his plan regardless.
  • Worthy Opponent: After his bullets prove useless against Faora, Colonel Hardy pulls out a combat knife. Despite her belief that humans are beneath her, it's easy to see that she respects his attitude by drawing her own knife to fight him on even terms. Her "A good death is its own reward" line can be interpreted to mean that she is going to give him this reward. The feeling isn't mutual.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Clark starts off believing this as a result of Jonathan's advice twenty years earlier, and asks Lois Lane her opinion on the matter when she wants to tell his story to the world.
  • X Days Since: In the final fight, Supes is flung against such a sign in the midst of a building already gutted by the fight. When he collides with it, some of the number placards fall off, leaving only a zero.
  • You Are Not Alone: Zod's viral message turns this into a threat.

"Welcome to the Planet."


Video Example(s):


Man of Steel - Colonel Badass

Colonel Hardy. When he comes up against Faora, he starts in a helicopter. She crashes it. He then crawls out of the wreckage and empties two guns into her (after watching her effortlessly annihilate his men). When he clicks dry without their having the slightest effect, he pulls out a knife. She's impressed enough to let him get into a fighting stance, pass on some Kryptonian wisdom, and draw her own knife instead of just walking all over him.

How well does it match the trope?

4.83 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ColonelBadass

Media sources: