Follow TV Tropes


Fridge / Man of Steel

Go To

Fridge Brilliance

  • The Man of Steel is the film’s title. This refers to Kal-El/Clark as a Kryptonian being many times stronger than a normal human being. However, Superman’s other titles are seen in the film:
    • The Blue Boy Scout - Superman gets his blue suit from a scout ship. Before Boy Scouts were seen as Moral Guardians, their function was exploration.
    • The Last Son of Krypton – fits Kal to a T, even if the society is genetically engineered.
    • The Man of Tomorrow – Kal was meant to bring in a new era of Kryptonians free from genetic engineering to pursue their own wishes/dreams. As Superman he also ushers in an era of superhumans protecting the Earth.
  • The Logo Joke depcts the film’s production logos in gray. Why gray? Because it’s the color of steel. Not only does it fit the Man of Steel title, but it works with the metallic Kryptonian tech seen in the film.
    • The color however could also represent the faded and worn state of Krypton around the time of the film’s opening.
  • Many viewers were turned off by the obscene amount of action Snyder put into the film, especially considering the destruction caused by Superman fighting Zod and his soldiers. However, it makes sense when you recognize Nolan and Goyer's realistic spin on the story, that this indeed is basically what would happen if a fight between a rookie Superman and any other super-powered being were to take place in real life. It's a fight amongst Kryptonians on a planet that grants all of them these destructive powers. One is fighting for the first time (let alone fighting other beings with similar powerlevels), doesn't yet know how to hold back his attacks and isn't professionally trained in combat, while the rest are all trained soldiers who aren't willing to hold back one bit. This is the most realistic way of getting him to realize all the lessons he's been taught. It will really drive home that he really truly -can- singularly change the world. Now he realizes just how much damage he can do, a figure that's absolutely catastrophic and terrifying in scale. By the time we see him again, he should have a radically different approach and have since learned that he must pull his punches if he can't get out of the way of bystanders. All of which should slowly turn him into the The Hero his world will recognize and The Paragon Jor-El and Jonathan Kent believed he can be.
  • Advertisement:
  • All of that death. All of that destruction. A horrible visage for the human race to witness. Why, it's enough to make some very powerful people very upset.
  • So the Fortress of Solitude or its equivalent is already destroyed. That's no problem since in the comics Superman originally built it with his bare hands, and he can just do the same for future film appearances. Superman: The Movie introduced the concept of the Fortress being Kryptonian, which the comics later used. It should also be noted that the ship looked like it was mostly still intact after Superman crashed it into Metropolis.
  • If Jor-El and Lara rejected genetic engineering and had a child the old-fashioned way to ensure he could choose his own path, wouldn't it be pointless since they themselves are genetically engineered to be scientists? No — while their naturally-mixed genes may still predispose Kal-El towards science or other "brainy" stuff, he still has to be raised to be a scientist within Kryptonian society to achieve his potential in that field. Instead, Kal-El grew up as Clark Kent with a relatively normal childhood. But the movie still hints at Clark's intellectual lineage — there are old photos of him and Jonathan at a science fair, and he appears to be bookish as a child. How many kids read Plato for fun?
  • Advertisement:
  • People have noticed the design quirk in Jor-El's chest insignia—that it's a combination of the Bat-symbol and the 'S'-shield. At first it looks like a subtle shout out and mythology gag, but when you think about it, Jor-El in this movie is a combination of Superman and Batman's best traits. He has the brilliant scientific mind Batman is praised for, as well as his fighting prowess as a Badass Normal, and is of Kryptonian heritage (and by virtue of that, is Clark's biological father). Not long after this movie, DC announced a Superman-Batman team up movie.
  • This adaptation of Superman gives probably one of the best thought out origins of his suit. As noted by Jor-El, Krypton has sent out whole fleets of scout ships to further the expansion of the Kryptonian people. That said, whenever they came across worlds with sentient species, those ships might have carried special uniforms which were not only emblazoned with the Kryptonian symbol of Hope (which happens to looks like an English 'S'), but designed as brightly colored, open, and non-threatening. It would certainly help to put out a "we come in peace" feel as opposed to their battle armor, which was near sinister in appearance (even Jor-El's, though being blue and gold helped mitigate it for him a bit).
  • The modified All-Star Superman quote means Man of Steel could be seen as its Belated Backstory / Book-Ends.
    Man of Steel: You will give the people an ideal to strive towards.
    All-Star Superman: You have given them an ideal to aspire to.
  • Does the ocean/oil-rig scenario feel out-of-place from a Supes origin story, which mostly takes place far away from the sea? If it does, then the creators have made their point, as it is the theme of the whole movie. When we first see the grown-up Clark, we see him frustrated in trying to find his place in this world, and how far he has gone looking for it. It also emphasizes the hardship (and eventually the value) of choice, in contrast to Krypton's predisposition on each of its citizens.
  • Heavy emphasis was put on Kal-El's fathers from two planets. It was released just before Father's Day.
  • During the Battle of Smallville, Faora is knocked out by a missile, thus showing that Kryptonians are not 100% invulnerable, just really really tough. Thus they subtly tone down Superman's God-Mode Sue qualities without directly diminishing his awesomeness.
    • Actually, it was more likely that her powers were dullened because she was wearing her kryptonian armor, none of Zod's people displayed full kryptonian abilities when they were wearing their armor, Zod was the only one who displayed full power (flight, superspeed, heat vision), and he was the only one who deactivated his forcefield on his armor.
    • This would fit with Superman's powers in the comics, which are based off of sunlight. Zod's people were wearing gas masks so they would appear to be using EV suits, which logically would block most radiation, so they have only a fraction of Superman's abilities, until their forcefields are deactivated. This forcefield is also the thing that is providing the kryptonians with their air, so they feel like they are choking to death until the sun provides them with enough power to go without breathing. This explains why Zod experiences so much pain when he first deactivates his helmet, and would explain why the kryptonians would assume that it's the atmosphere that gives them their powers, since none of them are biologists, and they don't stay long enough to figure it out.
  • The final fight between Zod and Superman very subtly established that both fighters had distinct advantages, which were clearly reflected in how they used their powers. Clark had little combat experience, and had only recently started trying to push the limits of his powers. However, he had been using the powers in limited quantities for years, so he had a pretty good idea of how to use them efficiently. Once Zod's breather is removed, he's suddenly overwhelmed by his enhanced senses, and has powers that he has no idea how to use properly...but, being a trained warrior, he adapts quickly. The scene in which Zod does a Wall Crawl establishes this VERY well: he doesn't know how to fly yet, and Clark isn't going to wait around for him to practice, so he improvises. Note also, when Zod first fires off his heat vision in full, he seems to realize that there's something of a brief cooldown period where he needs to recover from the sting; this comes back in when Clark fires his off to avoid an i-beam assault but doesn't account for that same cooldown vulnerability...and is promptly smacked by Zod.
  • The Up, Up and Away! pose is finally given a real reason to be used by the man it was attributed to. During his first attempt at fighting Earth's gravity and flying for real, the position seems to "help" him keep moving and once he really gets the hang of it, the pose then becomes what he does to punch into high gear and really pick up some flight speed. In some instances, it also appears to help him keep control of his flight pattern. He also uses his hands, when they're out in front or to the side, as mini directional planes.
  • Applying Reality Ensues to Superman has more or less placed him in a setting akin to the Marvel Universe, or more specifically the world of the X-Men, where ordinary humans fear mutants for being different. Ironically enough, it's the Marvel heroes are now the ones cheered by the public in their movies, and the DC heroes are now the ones hated or feared. While Spider-Man's first movie had Jameson milking the "Dangerous vigilante" angle for all it was worth, the second film had a subway full of New Yorkers pulling Parker's mask off and realizing he's "just a kid" under it, followed by those bystanders trying to fend off Doc Ock to help! Iron Man has little kids walking up to him asking for autographs. Captain America was amused, embarrassed, and horrified to learn that there were trading cards of him. Thor doesn't quite have the stack of good publicity, but he gets a few brownie points for himself. Even with the damage done to New York, the Avengers were clearly seen as heroes. Even Wolverine's latest outing is showing that he has some friends (possibly duplicitous) in high places, despite being a persecuted mutant. Meanwhile, Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent's misdeeds and became a pariah, and the Army was still sending armed drones after Superman in the coda of the film. Very odd reversal.
  • During the opening sequence, we see Clark working on an Alaskan fishing rig (or something like it) and almost get squashed by a metal cage made for holding crabs or fish. This doesn't make much sense — until you realize that Clark is so used to not being hurt by anything physically that he wasn't watching for it.
  • It first seems odd that the Superman costume is so brightly coloured compared to the sombre uniforms worn by all other Kryptonians, but then the brilliance kicks in: that costume is actually 18,000 year old relic from the planet's golden age, full of hope and promise, whereas the Kryptonians seen in the movie are from the era of slow decay and loss which reflects to their outlook and their fashion.
  • Clark is visible as "Joe" before his identity is officially revealed, but the camera does not linger on him to help the Clark Kenting. The first time he's acknowledged, Lois warns him that the bags he's already carrying are very heavy. "Joe" reacts as though he hadn't noticed.
    • Building onto that. Why does Clark pick, "Joe" as his name in order to keep people from learning his true identity? Because Joe was the first name of the man who created Superman, Joe Shuster. Bonus points for the scene taking place in Canada, where Joe was from.
  • Faora taunts Superman by claiming that Zod's Kryptonians are a more evolved life-form than humans and Superman: "Evolution always wins." Except that both Jor-El and Zod had argued to the Kryptonian council that they were in trouble because for generations, their race had been nothing but highly specialized Designer Babies - in effect, that Kryptonians had stopped naturally evolving. Kal-El was an anomaly, the first attempt in centuries to bring natural selection back into Krypton's genome, and as for the humans fighting alongside him against Zod? In the words of Howard Tayler, "evolution taught humanity to cheat." So ... like Faora said, "evolution always wins."
  • When Clark kills Zod, he drops to his knees next to the body. What's he doing? Kneeling before Zod.
  • The "You think you can threaten my mother?!" scene becomes more awesome when you remember that the last time Zod took a beating like that was at the hands of another member of the House of El, for threatening another defenseless loved one.
  • A satellite hovering directly above Metropolis during the Zod Vs. Superman seems a little too conveniently placed. All of Earth's orbit and somehow the two kryptonians manage to crash into one right above a city that was under alien attack for the last few minutes which then falls perfectly back down to Metropolis? Then you see that it was built by Wayne Enterprises. $20 says that satellite has spying capabilities and was deliberately directed to that spot so a certain tall, dark, and spooky character from Gotham could observe the Black Zero in action.
  • The codex has the DNA of every single Kryptonian that ever lived. Smallville explored a similar concept in which the DNA of all of Kandor's citizens including Jor-El and Zod (who at the time was a Major when his DNA was contributed.) was housed in container that could bring them back to life. Ergo Kandor and to an extent all of Krypton is housed inside Superman's Cells. Which in turn means eventually in the near future. The New Krypton story arc might be in the series later on.
  • The initial power set for the Black Zero's crew is much more limited than Clark's; they lack flight and heat visions, both powers that give him a decisive edge in their Smallville battle. However, as a Mythology Gag, they are all "Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound." The film basically used the Golden Age Superman's powerset as an equalizer for the brawls until the end, illustrating Superman's own evolution throughout the decades.
  • Jor-El's speech about why Krypton was doomed meshes very well with what we see of the actual Kryptonians in the film; they really were handicapped by their genetic engineering and caste system. Zod and his troops are incapable of breaking from their goals, and their failure to adapt to Earth's environment and the post-Krypton context dooms their assault to defeat. The leaders of Krypton also seem compelled to grab the Idiot Ball thanks to their focus on political leadership. And everyone, save Clark, shows a somewhat detached and coldly professional personality 95% of the time. Only Lara, Jor, and Zod have major emotional moments, but each has The Stoic plastered on the rest of the time and all three suffer immense trauma to bring about their reactions. Nothing illustrates this better than Faora's crying at Krypton's destruction; she cries as though she doesn't know how.
  • Krypton in this version was destroyed because the Kryptonians had been tapping its core for power, destabilizing their own planet by burning away its resources, just like we Earthlings are doing right now. Jor-El's wish to teach Earth not to repeat Krypton's mistakes makes a lot of sense given the fact that we're basically setting ourselves to follow in their footsteps.
  • When Superman was telling Zod "Don't do this!!" He wasn't just telling him to stop trying to kill people, he was stealth warning him, "Don't make me kill you." Whilst Zod's "Never." was pretty much him saying "Go ahead and do it, because I won't stop."
  • The soundtrack piece that could be considered Superman's new theme—"What Are You Going To Do When You Are Not Saving The World," doesn't kick in much at all until the very, very last moments of the film. Which makes a lot of sense when you factor in Superman's development; the theme doesn't even play when he puts the suit on for the first time and figures out how to fly. This is because he's not Superman really; not yet at least, as he had yet to fully commit to any direction of his own choice. The soundtrack essentially tells us that at the end, after he's cemented his place and picked Earth and Humanity as his true home; that now, the moment he takes up the job at the Daily Planet and puts on his glasses — now he's Superman.
  • There is a discrepancy in the comics concerning Kryptonian pregnancy: while some stories indicate that Krypton has Designer Babies, other stories show that Kal-El was the result of a natural pregnancy. This film managed to combine the two, fitting for a fresh look at Superman. It also provides the basis for a science fiction aesop about the pitfalls of Designer Babies and predestined caste systems leading to Crippling Overspecialization.
  • Kryptonians are shown to be very nostalgic - Word of God along with some information that's All There in the Manual tells us that the inscriptions on their possessions are largely the names of past owners. And most objects from Krypton are covered in inscriptions: everything is at least a seventh-hand item and nothing is new. Seems like progress stopped a while ago.
  • Jor-El says that he and Lara couldn't go with Kal-El because they were "just as flawed as the rest of Krypton". And that the use of Designer Babies cost Krypton the "element of choice". Sounds like personalities are assigned to these Designer Babies after the initial genetic engineering (hence why Kal-El is unaffected despite having his parents' DNA). Both them and Zod would have deviated from these pre-programmed personalities by committing heresy and treason respectively. So Zod being a Large Ham and dismissing the courses of action that would have let the humans live could be signs of him being unBrainwashed and Crazy and Kal-El's parents were worried that they might turn out to be Not So Different from Zod.
  • Henry Cavill has heterochromia, which means that one of his eyes is part blue, part brown. Ergo, this version of Clark/Kal has heterochromia as well. A child created by science and grown in a genesis chamber probably wouldn't have this; the scientists would be able to manipulate the DNA to avoid or get rid of it. However, a child conceived naturally with no scientific design would be more likely to have a genetic quirk like that.
  • Teen Clark, just before Jonathan Kent dies in the tornado, scoffs at the idea of becoming a farmer like his adoptive father. But since Jor-El implanted the genetic codexes of the Kryptonian race within Kal-El's body, Clark's birth father obviously intended his son to plant and grow the "seeds" of their lost race.
  • Many deride Jor-El for riding an animal from the Council Chamber to the Codex to his lab, but Zod and the other warrior caste would be unable to override the animal to keep Jor-El from finishing his mission. Smart Move!!
  • This isn't a film about the Big Blue Boy Scout, but rather a film about the Last Son of Krypton, as it deals with Kal-El being naturally born rather than genetically engineered as well as his clash of his dual heritage of Earth and Krypton.
    • It's also a film about the Man of Tomorrow: while all Kryptonians are decadent and decaying and stuck in the past, Kal has the oppurtunity of having a new world with a bright future ahead.
  • Superman, despite his maintaining his privacy over his location, tells General Swanwick that he’s from Kansas, which narrows things down. Either that admission was a slip of the tongue, or it was knowingly given - either way, Superman is trusting Swanwick with information about him, less than what Lois has but enough to show that there is/can be mutual trust between the guardian of Earth and its denizens.

Fridge Logic

On the Headscratchers tab.

Fridge Horror

  • The sheer amount of implied deaths when Superman and Zod destroyed all those buildings fighting in Metropolis is scary.
  • An odd example as it only applies when watching the movie for the first time, but it's a horrifying fridge moment when you connect the dots and realize that as Zod is about to kill an innocent family, Clark has no choice but to break his one rule as Zod cannot be talked down. To fans not fond of the idea that Superman will kill when necessary, this is not a happy thing to realize and you're hoping that the writers won't go with it... And then he goes and does it. On a more positive note, you can see the act of taking a life had a deep effect on Clark, since this was his first outing as Superman here perhaps in this continuity; this is the moment where he adopts the no-kill policy that the other versions of him were so known for—which, according to Word of God, is exactly what they were going for. It's possible Clark didn't mean to break his own nascent moral code at all — he may not have meant to kill him even if he didn't want to, only to turn Zod's head, and then catastrophically mis-estimating his own strength just the slightest bit again when up against another similarly-powered Kryptonian. (Albeit one who was clearly in Death Seeker mode and trying to force Clark's hand.) Zod has forced him to do what he's spent his whole life in terror of.
  • Superman's mourning of Zod after the former kills the later is made even more powerful when you realize that apart from the ones trapped in the Phantom Zone (who would eventually, if not have already died), Zod is the only other Kryptonian in the universe. In other words, Superman made himself the last of his kind.
  • The death of Jonathan Kent. It's up to the imagination what the state of his body was like after the tornado died away, and it's even more chilling if Clark was a part of the rescue/search party and was the one who found it. In fact, with his super vision, Clark would have definitely been the first to find Jonathan's body and he would have seen his body inside the tornado, ravaged by wind and debris.
  • Martha mentions that Clark had a hard time breathing as a baby. Adopting a baby whose health is failing is bad enough, but traditional methods like giving them concentrated oxygen (which was exactly what Clark had a problem with!) or keeping them inside, out of the sun, probably made Clark's condition worse. So the Kents had no choice but to wait and see what happened, and most likely lucked out by noticing that his health was better on a sunny day.
  • Faora giving a breather to Lois and explaining that the atmosphere is poisonous to humans. Then Clark begins coughing up blood and passes out, awakening without any of his powers—because he hasn't breathed Kryptonian air in his life, either. Their pointed refusal to help, and later taking a sample of his blood means that they were at least aware of adverse side effects beforehand. Even before Zod asks if Clark needs to be dead or alive to acquire the Codex, he had no intention of sparing Clark pain or possible death.
  • Zod's ship had a genesis chamber which would theoretically be used to repopulate the Kryptonians. Which was well and good, except for the fact that the only living Kryptonians besides Clark are soldiers and criminals. Even with genetic alterations for other necessary occupations, potential children would have been raised in a militant lifestyle, specializing the Kryptonians as a warrior race.
  • All of the destruction in the movie—not to mention the barely averted extinction of all life on the planet—was done with civilian-grade equipment. Zod's ship is a retrofitted prison, unarmed and unarmoured. Their personal armour, guns and shuttles were scavenged from dessicated corpses, and the World Engine was never intended to be used as a weapon. Bearing that in mind, imagine what Zod could have done with a fraction of the military might he controlled during his attempted coup.
  • Knowing that Clark has to focus to keep his super-hearing and x-ray vision under control puts some implications on his mental health. The moment he relaxes, they play up. Try falling asleep when you can see through your own eyelids and even the smallest whisper sounds completely audible.
  • The scene where Clark avenges himself upon a bully truck driver by trashing the guy's truck. It's meant to be both humorous and a "Hell Yeah you deserved it!" moment (and it is), but it also is frightening to think about: this is what a pissed-off Superman can do. Making it even scarier is that it's not even close to how far Clark could have gone...
  • Scientist Charles Watson and his hazard-assessment team at Watson Technical Consulting ran an analysis (using analytical models of the Metropolis stand-ins of New York and Chicago) to calculate the collateral damage and deaths Superman and General Zod's fight caused. Watson estimates that some 129,000 people would have been killed, with another 250,000 going missing in the rubble, and nearly a million more maimed and injured. Now remember, Superman has super-senses; he can SEE and HEAR all of that suffering....


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: