The major qualms about Zack Snyder's Man of Steel was that it was too away from the basic characteristics that make Superman, the American comic book icon.
Of course, his capturing of the human side, Superman's parents, the struggle to control the power of a God as a child, were all points that received critical appreciation. But there was one scene in the film that basically made you a fan or a hater. The death of general Zod. Fans and critics alike claim that this was an unnecessary dark turn in an otherwise vibrant and 'boy scout' character.
But for all the things Snyder got wrong, he did get the tone of the film just right.
It's about time super hero films got down and dirty. The world isn't a vibrant place anymore. The popularity of graphic novels like Sin City, Watchmen, Sandman, Constantine and even Batman tower above the rest because plainly put, they reflect the real world. Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight franchise, took all the excellent concepts of the previous adaptations of Batman, and placed them in today's world. Nolan knew that dark and gritty doesn't necessarily mean depressing. Noir is more his style and from the looks of it, Snyder's got the hint.
This year at Comic-Con, the 'Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice' panel showcased footage that showed that the sequel will at least have a bit of the noir feel to it. The footage showed an epic battle on a rooftop, in the rain, with Batman wearing the armour reminiscent of Frank Miller's 'The Dark Knight Returns' mini-series. So it's safe to say that the tone of the film will follow that of the first one in terms of no limitations as such.
Alright, the death of Zod at Superman's hands was a bit over the top, but that's still keeping in line with his comic book counter part. Superman has in fact killed Zod himself before in the comics, and even though there could have been a better way to have shown Superman's first victory over a super villain, it was in no way going against popular culture.
The problem is that most Superman fans that became enthralled with the character outside of the comics, have only seen the campy, lighter version portrayed by Christopher Reeve. But the point of 'Man of Steel' was not only to re-introduce Superman, but also to introduce the DC equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With that said, characters like Batman, Cyborg, and even Wonder Woman cannot and should not be portrayed in a light and even hopeful way. Batman is the Dark Knight. Cyborg is the fusion of machine and man. Wonder Woman is an Amazonian princess, with blood and fire raging through her veins.
Now, here's what can make the sequel work, that the first film pretty much messed up. The atmosphere of the film, Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor and other elements of the film should definitely be dark. Superman should not. Superman is the archetype of heroism and him killing Zod, no matter what the reason was, did not resonate that at all.
The point of Superman is to show the world that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope. For instance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Steve Rogers stood high as a symbol of hope, in dark and trying times. Superman should be DC's version of Captain America, not giving in to the darkness, no matter what. Batman will get things done by any means necessary, but Superman should always be expected to find another way.
What Snyder should have done is create a dark world, in which Superman shines as a ray of unwavering hope. If Snyder is in fact going to be the Joss Whedon of the DC Cinematic Universe, let's hope he's learnt his mistakes from the first film.
Catch 'Man of Steel' on Sunday, 24th August 2014 at 1pm and 9pm on HBO