Zack Snyder: The Force Awakens Killed More Civilians Than Man of Steel

| 23 Mar 2016 16:15
Man of Steel Scream

Zack Snyder is defending Man of Steel's body count by stating Star Wars: The Force Awakens went farther than he did.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is out this week, resurrecting all the old arguments about how Man of Steel was too violent for its own good. According to director Zack Snyder, however, that criticism doesn't make sense - because Star Wars: The Force Awakens has a bigger body count.

"I went, really?" Snyder told the Wall Street Journal. "And I said, well, what about [Star Wars: The Force Awakens]? In Star Wars they destroy five planets with billions of people on them. That's gotta be one of the highest death toll movies in history, the new Star Wars movie, if you just do the math."

Yes, the Man of Steel director is technically correct that The Force Awakens has a higher death toll. But that's never been the problem fans had with the film - it's that Superman himself spent more time fighting Zod than saving the lives of people in Metropolis. The collateral damage from that conflict is a major reason why Batman is so concerned about Superman in the sequel, after all.

In other words: Stay on target, Snyder.

Besides, Star Wars kind of has a history of heroes being unable to stop genocidal maniacs. Leia was completely helpless to stop Alderaan from being destroyed, an act which motivated its heroes to defeat the Empire. But Superman? Outside of Krypton being destroyed, his entire motivation is stopping disasters like that from happening.

Now obviously, Snyder and Warner Bros can produce whatever Superman film they want. And to be completely fair, Batman v Superman might actually produce a thoughtful response to these concerns - or at least be fun to watch. But taking aim at Star Wars probably won't generate the mic drop Snyder was hoping for. Either way, we'll find out how Batman v Superman compares to the original film and The Force Awakens this Friday.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, via Screen Rant

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bastardofmelbourne:
I don't think whether or not the World Engine was designed as a weapon has any impact whatsoever on the threat it posed in Man of Steel.

I agree with you there, how the people died isn't in question.

We don't know for certain if there were civilians on the military superweapons (I don't know of any civilian bakers or baristas working on a nuclear submarine), but we do know there were in Metropolis.

Snyder kind of has a point....and doesn't.

How many people died on Starkiller base? How many were just general grunt's like Finn who hadn't escaped.? At the end of the day it's war and it's justified but the heroes did kill probably millions of people.

Lets try to remember in MoS this Superman's first fight with a being of equal power to himself and probably unaware of the potential damn age caused. I have no issues if grows and learns from those mistakes (which appears to have in MoS, even if takes throwaway comments in the climatic battle to justify itself now). Yes a fully fledged experienced Superman should be doing that as second nature but that's not the Superman that exists in MoS or even BvS (which he fights one for only second time).
I get the complaint but I can see how the decisions can be explained.

[insert clip of Bender laughing harder here]

I'm going with the general consensus here. He is completely missing the point of the criticism. Most of us are upset that Superman made no effort to save civilians. Not even once. Even Vegeta has shown more concern for the people of Earth!

Baresark:
No, that is still a BS criticism. He showed he ultimately cared about the people of earth by not siding with and then killing Zod, clearly showing the last thing he wanted to do was kill Zod, who gave him no choice. Choose an innocent family or Zod, he chose the innocent family. If he truly didn't care about the people of earth and had in fact gotten none of his parents values, then he would have just chosen to join his own people.

Then he made out with Louis Lane, a woman he barely knows, in the middle of the devastated city. Probably fifty feet from some man who just lost his legs in Superman's battle with Zod.

Yeah, no matter how much you, or even Superman, insist that he cared about the civilians, he didn't. At all. His actions show that civilian deaths mean less than nothing to him.

Wrex Brogan:
...Well, at least he's admitting that Superman was actually the villain in that movie, given he's relating his deathtoll to that of the fucking Space Nazis.

That's actually a good point. If you have to compare your character to Space Nazis to prove they are good, maybe you should rethink the portrayal of your character.

...Well, at least he's admitting that Superman was actually the villain in that movie, given he's relating his deathtoll to that of the fucking Space Nazis.

008Zulu:
Yes. The Death Star was designed to subjugate.

I gotta disagree, there. I don't think whether or not the World Engine was designed as a weapon has any impact whatsoever on the threat it posed in Man of Steel. It was going to kill every human being on Earth. It would do so by terraforming, because it is a terraforming machine, but it was going to have the same effect on the human race as if it was the Death Star.

I mean, you threaten to murder a guy with a gun or with a hammer, it doesn't matter that the gun is a weapon and the hammer is a tool. The guy gets murdered either way.

The rest of the stuff, you know, we covered that earlier. It's open to interpretation whether or not there were non-combatants on the Death Stars or on Starkiller Base, because the films neither confirm nor deny their presence, instead ignoring the question entirely for the sake of the narrative. And short of George Lucas posting on the Escapist, we're not gonna get a satisfactory answer either way.

Oh, I just found this though. So hey, maybe that's that.

bastardofmelbourne:

I may be splitting hairs here, but does the device's original purpose matter if it's currently being used as a planet-killer?

Yes. The Death Star was designed to subjugate.

Besides, Snyder's whole argument falls apart when you consider that everyone on the Death Star was a serving Imperial officer. There were no civilians present. With the exception of the Empire rolling in to Bespin, civilians were not involved in the war.*

* The caveat being only the movies are considered canon, according to Disney.

008Zulu:

bastardofmelbourne:

I agree with the first two sentences about Superman as an ideal, but I'd just like to point out that the World Engine was going to terraform Earth into a state hostile to human life and, presumably, most life on Earth.

Yeah, but the Kryptonians original intention was to use the Engine on uninhabited worlds. It wasn't originally designed or thought to be used as a WMD.

I may be splitting hairs here, but does the device's original purpose matter if it's currently being used as a planet-killer?

bastardofmelbourne:

I agree with the first two sentences about Superman as an ideal, but I'd just like to point out that the World Engine was going to terraform Earth into a state hostile to human life and, presumably, most life on Earth.

Yeah, but the Kryptonians original intention was to use the Engine on uninhabited worlds. It wasn't originally designed or thought to be used as a WMD.

Sniper Team 4:
...

The_Darkness:

It *is* kinda a valid criticism of The Force Awakens though - for largely unrelated reasons to why Zack's bringing it up. Hands up - who really *felt* those deaths in TFA? Who felt anything at all for the billions of completely non-characterised people who died in that scene?

I kind of did, and still do to this day, but it has nothing to do with the movie. My mind wonders on stuff like that. How many mothers just died breast feeding their newborn? How many kids were excited to be getting out of school for the day, only to be murdered for no reason besides being in the wrong place at the wrong time? How many people on that planet may have actually been loyal to the First Order, or at least The Empire, and just couldn't get enough funds together to get off world? How many normal people who just care about waking up, getting to work on time, and making enough money to survive and couldn't care less about who is in charge higher up just died because some dick pushed a button? And that makes me wonder what the hell is wrong with literally every single person on Starkiller base. None of them even blinked as they willing slaughtered billions of people, probably the biggest death toll in the history of the entire universe. Worse, some of them cheered. That makes you a monster in my book. You are no longer human, alien, or even an animal. Monsters, every one of them, and every one of them deserves to die.
Anyway, like I said, my mind wonders on these sorts of things, probably more than most.

On to the topic at hand. For a second, I raised my eyebrow and thought, "Uh...no. A handful of villagers is NOT more than all the people in the city." It took me a second to remember what Starkiller base did, so then I was like, "Okay, he's right I guess..."

I don't remember them interviewing every single person on the base ...
The idea that none of them had any moral-hang ups about using this weapon is nothing more than speculation, and it's speculation that seems rather absurd. I find it hard to believe that none of them felt morally conflicted about it, especially considering the fact that one of the protagonists is an ex-stormtrooper who left for moral reasons. Even those that cheered can't really be safely considered monsters, since it's possible, and rather likely, that some of them would be cheering out of fear, and considering the weapon they just witnessed, they have good reason to be afraid.

I'm not saying the people in the First Order are blameless, just that if you're going to analyze the situation that's something to consider. But bringing real world morality into Star Wars kind of kills the simple hero-villain narrative, which isn't really a bad thing for me since I like stories with more realistic, morally ambiguous conflict, but I'm aware most people don't go to Star Wars for that. After all, if we were to think more deeply about the morality of the situation I'd say the rebels themselves would likely have done some pretty questionable things; I'm generally suspicious of any faction who claims to have come out a war with clean hands.

Anyway, this is all kind of irrelevant, because I have to agree with the previous poster; I felt nothing over the destruction of ... whatever planets those were. I don't think it even has to do with the whole "a million is a statistic" thing either. You can make an emotionally powerful scene of world destruction. I still find the ending to Doctor Strangelove to be, despite the dark comedic nature of it, one of the most haunting endings to any movie ever. I really think a lot of that has to do with how it's handled, and the fact that the entire movie builds up to that moment so you have time to think about the horrors of what's going on; you are fully invested in doomsday being stopped, only for everything to fail. Hell, I even find this unofficial music video for Mike Oldfield - Nuclear to be significantly more emotionally powerful than TFA's genocide scene, and I'm not willing to accept that it's just down to the fact that it uses real nuclear test footage, or the fact that the prior two examples I've given both took place on Earth, hence, having more personal investment. Even this Exterminatus video is more emotional for me, and I likewise know absolutely nothing about Typhon Primaris outside of the fact that apparently little more than a million people live there (unless that line was more poetic than factual). In fact, overall I find it pretty hard to take Warhammer 40k seriously due to how over the top it all is, and it still managed to cobble together a more emotional scene than Star Wars.
I genuinely think the Starkiller's destruction of ... whoever, was one of the most ineptly handled aspects of the movie. I just rewatched that scene again (don't ask how) and it's preceded by an absolutely hilarious man, who'll I'll assume is some kind of cosplayer who somehow found his way onto the set, screaming a comically over the top speech, then a giant laser fires out and destroys whatever. To make matters worse, it's followed by a shot of people looking up at the sky in a way that seems more curious and confused than emotionally distraught, then Finn says "It was the republic. The First Order, they've done it ... where's Rey?" and the scene just ends. The way he so casually changes subject after ... whatever planets those were just got destroyed makes it seem like the editor forgot to add the laugh-track. Even though we know about the weapon, it still feels like it comes out of nowhere without any build up and returns to nowhere, leaving no emotional impact.
I actually think a lot of it is not just to do with how it fits into the story, but even how the scene is shot, and especially the music that plays over it. For something that massive the music is so subdued. Seriously, it sounds like the kind of music you'd play over a scene of someone looking at the fragments of a broken teapot that had significant sentimental value, not the genocide of billions of people. Even the prequels managed to have some amazing music over their tensionless action. In fact, that Batman v Superman trailer, despite possibly being better than the movie itself if reviews are to be trusted, has some more appropriate "the world is ending" music.

Although, to be fair to the film, the destruction of Alderaan wasn't exactly a tearjerker, so TFA at least outdoes that low benchmark.

Sorry for the novella-length rant about this; I really didn't expect to have this much to say on the topic when I began writing.

So he's saying that superman is basically the same as darth vader.

Happyninja42:
So then since you apparently agree that it's all speculation, you will now retract your declarative statement before, where you said with much certainty that the Rebels killed tons of civilians? I mean, you don't get to say mine is speculation, and then say yours is fact.

I'm not retracting anything, I'm just acknowledging that it's debatable. You know, that was me being polite by saying that you had good points.

I understand my first statement may have come off as declarative fact, but really I was just trying to point out how people were deliberately ignoring Starkiller Base and the accompanying moral questions. Yes, it is all speculation. It's all speculation because the films never address it. Then again, the death count in Man of Steel is also all speculation, because again, the film never addresses it.

You also said something about Superman not being a "Space Nazi Hitler." That's kind of not the point; what we're doing here is comparing Superman and the protagonists, not Superman and the antagonists.

Anyway, you sound like you've hashed out the Death Star contractor argument somewhere else beforehand, so let's leave it at that. Oh, except this one thought that just occurred to me:

Happyninja42:
BECAUSE THE DEATH STAR CONTRACTOR PROBLEM IS UTTER FICTION!! In no way in hell has that ever been actually confirmed! It was in a fucking movie made by a giant man child, and people just say "Yeah, you're right, huh that's fucked up!" But given the magical science they have in Star Wars, and all the other stuff they can easily do, there is no reason to assume it's true. You can't ignore half of the established lore of the world in the movies, to prop up some fan theory made as a funny line in a film. You say "they had to have civilian contractors!" I say "Any military that big has their own Corp of Engineers to build shit for them, because that's what militaries do! Plus they have droids to build everything!" I mean we're trying to use real world logic here right? Ok then, real world logic states that a military would use their own resources to build something that top secret. There is no need for civilians!

Just a point I thought of from those last couple of lines: the Empire feasibly could have had the resources to build everything with military engineers and droids. Do you think the First Order has the same resources? They're a rump state military junta that can be easily compared to North Korea. Can they manufacture and maintain a vast droid labour force and a galactic-scale engineer corps with the same ease as their predecessor, after losing a galactic civil war and two moon-sized battle stations? Would they, considering that the only reason they'd even bother is to reduce civilian collateral damage in the event that their giant planet-gun gets blown up?

They could more easily enslave nearby populations, which has less of an up-front investment cost than manufacturing droids and is probably quicker. Also, it's explicitly stated that they conscript children to train them as stormtroopers, meaning that even the "combatants" have the same level of choice in the matter as the guys manning the Korean DMZ.

Again to clarify, I'm not saying this is 100%. But they're legitimate queries; the people in this thread and writer of this article are doing the subject a disservice by ignoring them so that they can criticise Zack Snyder.

008Zulu:
Superman is meant to be the ideal man, that which everyone should aspire to be. People should not aspire to be as destruction happy as was shown in MoS. And as for Luke? The Death Star was a weapon of terror, meant to destroy worlds and instill fear. Zod's World Engine was meant to terraform a planet, not destroy one. Besides, the destruction of the Death Star didn't impact any local civilian populations. Hence; Apples and Oranges.

I agree with the first two sentences about Superman as an ideal, but I'd just like to point out that the World Engine was going to terraform Earth into a state hostile to human life and, presumably, most life on Earth. That's basically destroying the ecosystem, even if the planet itself is still intact.

I could also mention the Endor Holocaust theory, but I think our friend Happyninja has some critiques of that he would like to share if he gets the chance, so I'll leave it there.

bastardofmelbourne:

This is exactly what I'm talking about. He isn't comparing apples to oranges. The comparison is debatable, but still apt. Why do we treat both Superman and Luke as good guys when both of them caused colossal collateral damage stopping a genocidal maniac? Why do we expect better from Superman films than we do from Star Wars films? They're good questions, and everyone - including the author of the article, who should know better - is ignoring them in favour of "hate on Zack Snyder," which seems to be popular at the moment.

And then criticising Snyder for missing the point, which I find hilarious.

Superman is meant to be the ideal man, that which everyone should aspire to be. People should not aspire to be as destruction happy as was shown in MoS. And as for Luke? The Death Star was a weapon of terror, meant to destroy worlds and instill fear. Zod's World Engine was meant to terraform a planet, not destroy one. Besides, the destruction of the Death Star didn't impact any local civilian populations. Hence; Apples and Oranges.

bastardofmelbourne:

Happyninja42:
snippity

A lot of what you just said is a general response to the Death Star contractor fan theory, which is fine. They're good points which people have thoroughly debated in the years since Clerks. The problem is that the Star Wars movies - original and TFFA - deliberately don't address the question at all because it's a very troubling one that distracts from the otherwise simple good vs. evil narrative.

There's nothing in the movies that suggest that, for example, all of the construction of the Death Star/Starkiller Base was done by droids. There's nothing to suggest that they weren't built by droids. The films dodge the point entirely, because it's a complex one that is pretty hard to answer.

So then since you apparently agree that it's all speculation, you will now retract your declarative statement before, where you said with much certainty that the Rebels killed tons of civilians? I mean, you don't get to say mine is speculation, and then say yours is fact.

bastardofmelbourne:
I mean, even if they were built by droids, another big ethical question that Star Wars glosses over is the moral status of droids as artificially intelligent beings. The protagonists them as if they're sentient and self-aware, but the universe simultaneously considers them expendable labourers.

That's a completely different issue,

You're right, it is a completely different issue, therefore it shouldn't be here.

bastardofmelbourne:
but my point is that Star Wars doesn't - and arguably shouldn't have to - address those questions.

Then why are we debating this at all?

bastardofmelbourne:
From that perspective, what Zack Snyder's saying is essentially "if no-one questions Star Wars, why are they questioning Man of Steel."

Because Superman isn't a Space Nazi Hitler who is the antagonist of a series of movies. He's the heroic protagonist. He shouldn't be wracking up body counts on the order of magnitude of natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

bastardofmelbourne:
You might answer that with the fact that Superman should be held to a higher standard than the protagonists of Star Wars

No, I expect him to be held to the Superman standard of "not being a natural disaster".

bastardofmelbourne:
but Snyder is essentially asking why should Superman be held to that standard when, ultimately, both he and the protagonists of TFFA are the "good guys."

I'm well aware of what Zach is trying to compare it to, but he's failing. But you've already agreed above that both of our theories (mine was made simply to refute yours), are simply speculation. So if that's the case, then it doesn't really matter about the theoretical likelihood of civilians in Star Wars. We never see them, so as far as we can prove, they aren't on Starkiller base. If movies have to 100% make declarative statements like "So the planet sized base of Space Nazi's is devoid of innocent civilians, so we can totes blow it up", otherwise fans will automatically declare there were civilians, and thus they were murdered, then we are entering a terrible age of cinema. Man of Steel established civilian casualties, Star Wars didn't. One is cinematic fact, the other is fan speculation.

bastardofmelbourne:
Now I too think Man of Steel should have given more consideration to Superman minimising collateral damage - I feel that Age of Ultron set the bar for how the topic should be handled - but the problem I found in this thread was that virtually everyone was wilfully ignoring the Death Star contractor problem so that they could bash on Zack Snyder for "missing the point."

BECAUSE THE DEATH STAR CONTRACTOR PROBLEM IS UTTER FICTION!! In no way in hell has that ever been actually confirmed! It was in a fucking movie made by a giant man child, and people just say "Yeah, you're right, huh that's fucked up!" But given the magical science they have in Star Wars, and all the other stuff they can easily do, there is no reason to assume it's true. You can't ignore half of the established lore of the world in the movies, to prop up some fan theory made as a funny line in a film. You say "they had to have civilian contractors!" I say "Any military that big has their own Corp of Engineers to build shit for them, because that's what militaries do! Plus they have droids to build everything!" I mean we're trying to use real world logic here right? Ok then, real world logic states that a military would use their own resources to build something that top secret. There is no need for civilians!

008Zulu:
Snyder is actually comparing apples to oranges?

Just when I think his intelligence couldn't drop any lower, he says stuff like this.

This is exactly what I'm talking about. He isn't comparing apples to oranges. The comparison is debatable, but still apt. Why do we treat both Superman and Luke as good guys when both of them caused colossal collateral damage stopping a genocidal maniac? Why do we expect better from Superman films than we do from Star Wars films? They're good questions, and everyone - including the author of the article, who should know better - is ignoring them in favour of "hate on Zack Snyder," which seems to be popular at the moment.

And then criticising Snyder for missing the point, which I find hilarious.

Chester Rabbit:
snip

I don't mean to be rude to the above poster, but that rant is basically the Internet at its worst. It's a string of insults and exclamation marks instead of an opinion. (Sincerity mode: I genuinely don't mean to be rude, I'm sure you're a reasonable person when you're not criticising Superman films on the internet.)

I'd be more annoyed by the trend, except Moviebob did exactly that in his review of the movie (his words: "a malignant, puss-bleeding cancer on the ass of its own genre") so maybe that's just how movie criticism has to work these days.

Okay Zack, here's the thing. Superman, fuck SUPERMAN!! Wasn't in Star Wars, accepitible loss and collateral damage in war is just a fact of battle among us squishy simple mortals.

Superman! Can lift fucking continents! Wind time back by flying around the world really face, Fly fast faster than you fucking name it!Can do AAAAANYTHING!!

Bullshit half the shit in your shitty movie wasn't avoidable.
Fuck "Superman" Didn't even make any attempt to move the battle. You have him flying villains through! buildings. Smashing them into gas tanks and nonchalantly hoping over oil tankers and letting them crash into buildings and blowing them the fuck up.

Fuck as bad as Superman 4 was at least when it came down to it he was still concerned about civilian lives and tried to figure out a way to stop the villain from causing anymore destruction.

Fuck you and your vapid pubescent angsty bullshit pretentious, preachy shitty "Superman" movie!

Snyder is actually comparing apples to oranges?

Just when I think his intelligence couldn't drop any lower, he says stuff like this.

Happyninja42:
snippity

A lot of what you just said is a general response to the Death Star contractor fan theory, which is fine. They're good points which people have thoroughly debated in the years since Clerks. The problem is that the Star Wars movies - original and TFFA - deliberately don't address the question at all because it's a very troubling one that distracts from the otherwise simple good vs. evil narrative.

There's nothing in the movies that suggest that, for example, all of the construction of the Death Star/Starkiller Base was done by droids. There's nothing to suggest that they weren't built by droids. The films dodge the point entirely, because it's a complex one that is pretty hard to answer.

I mean, even if they were built by droids, another big ethical question that Star Wars glosses over is the moral status of droids as artificially intelligent beings. The protagonists them as if they're sentient and self-aware, but the universe simultaneously considers them expendable labourers.

That's a completely different issue, but my point is that Star Wars doesn't - and arguably shouldn't have to - address those questions. From that perspective, what Zack Snyder's saying is essentially "if no-one questions Star Wars, why are they questioning Man of Steel." You might answer that with the fact that Superman should be held to a higher standard than the protagonists of Star Wars, but Snyder is essentially asking why should Superman be held to that standard when, ultimately, both he and the protagonists of TFFA are the "good guys."

Now I too think Man of Steel should have given more consideration to Superman minimising collateral damage - I feel that Age of Ultron set the bar for how the topic should be handled - but the problem I found in this thread was that virtually everyone was wilfully ignoring the Death Star contractor problem so that they could bash on Zack Snyder for "missing the point."

I found that somewhat ironic.

BuildsLegos:
Extended Universe material confirmed the undeniable long ago: even the first Death Star had hundreds of food courts, apartments, and all assortment of vital service crews to ensure that only the most essential traffic happened around it. Getting cold between stars is easily compensated with an artificial heating network; the great thing about science-fiction is that you can hand-wave nearly any nonsense as "they have a technology for that". The second Death Star wasn't even complete, making it even more obvious that several thousand construction workers died so that Endor could live.

Starkiller Base, judging by the snowy forest, had at least a dying ecosystem, so I imagine that's where the army was getting most of their food.

The EU isn't canon, and in fact, never really was. It was published fan fiction that nobody at Lucasfilms bothered to retcon at all.

And you actually defeated your own argument with that "they have a tech for that" statement. If they have a tech to explain being able to warm an entire freaking planet in the utter cold of the vacuum of space, then they've got a tech to feed themselves, and build their stations without needing civilians. I mean if we're just handwaving away any nonsense, you don't get to cherry pick which things do and don't get hand waved away.

Happyninja42:
Why do you assume it had civilians on it? It's a military weapons platform. Those generally don't have a large civilian presence. I mean if we're actually going to go down the route of "real world logic" for this stuff. NOBODY on that planet should be alive. It's a mobile space station, meaning it's not always in the presence of a sun. So it would freeze over quick. Also, suddenly blasting out all of the energy of a freaking star from the interior of your base would instantly cook any atmosphere you had, and blind/irradiate all of those stormtroopers who were in visible range of the outgassing of a stellar core.

Now I know we don't want to go down that road, because Star Wars has always said "Fuck you" to actual physics and cosmology, and I see no reason it should start paying attention to that shit now. It is never stated that there are civilians on the surface, it's not "currently under construction", so that fan theory is out the window. It was a fully functional Space Nazi battle platform. And from a narrative viewpoint, you can be pretty sure that there were nothing but Space Nazi's on that thing.

Extended Universe material confirmed the undeniable long ago: even the first Death Star had hundreds of food courts, apartments, and all assortment of vital service crews to ensure that only the most essential traffic happened around it. Getting cold between stars is easily compensated with an artificial heating network; the great thing about science-fiction is that you can hand-wave nearly any nonsense as "they have a technology for that". The second Death Star wasn't even complete, making it even more obvious that several thousand construction workers died so that Endor could live.

Starkiller Base, judging by the snowy forest, had at least a dying ecosystem, so I imagine that's where the army was getting most of their food.

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