Originally Posted by jonathancrane
If he did in the comics - and thankfully he has not in the ones I have read-then yes, I would feel betrayed. Superman is supposed to represent our highest aspirations, in terms of his super-powers, power, and embodiment of our best characteristics. He has no need to descend to the level of organisms inferior to him-such as murderering-when he has the powers of a god at his disposal. If a man can turn objects to ice with his breath or hell, even fly, then there is no need for him to murder, especially so savagely. There's a reason why Superman is a secularized messiah-like figure: as the film (before the third act) and comics point out, he embodies the characteristics of messiahs from Judaism and Christianity. The subjects from both religions are above moronic violence; they are enlightened, and can use their super powers for the good of humanity, not to continue the mindless violence that marks humanity.
Now, don't get me wrong: I realize that Batman is guilty of it. However, the films acknowledge that they are distancing themselves from the non-killing comic Batman: Burton was infatuated with the comics from the 1930's and Nolan admitted in numerous interviews that he refracted Batman through James Bond. Yes, I acknowledge that they deviate from the comics, but it is part of the filmmaker's acknowledged intentions. Man of Steel built up the summary of our aspirations angle through the trailers, and then turned an enlightened man into a Kryptonian Rorschach.
Make no mistake: I like Punisher and Rorschach; I don't them informing a character who is supposed to represent the best parts of mankind.
"then turned an enlightened man into a Kryptonian Rorschach."
What??? Look, I understand the general issue with Superman killing, but that's an insane comparison.
Superman took out Zod because it was the ONLY option in that situation. It had nothing to do with vengeance, or punishment, ala Rorschach.
Again, it was Zod, another Kryptonian, not just a human, or any other threat he could stop with his superior abilities. The entire point of the scene was made painfully clear; Zod was an unstoppable force, and he was a direct threat to a terrified family, and there was no other way for Superman to save them in that moment.
Now, one can certainly argue that Superman would have never let such a situation occur in the first place, but this was, literally, his first battle ever. He threw his first punch that same day. This was clearly meant to be an imperfect, inexperienced Superman. That was the point.
I'm surprised with your characterization of the Nolan Batman films, as his weak as spit commitment to "no killing" was a joke in those films.
As for the comics, the situation in which Superman kills Zod, and his two companion Kryptonians, was actually far more reprehensible. It also was no where near as far back as when Batman was permanently disposing of villains, this was back in 1988.
Zod and his ilk were actually already depowered by gold kryptonite, and imprisoned. They had killed the entire population of their pocket universe's Earth, and this was their sentence.
It was not until the powerless, and locked up, Zod threatened to find a way to get out and then kill Superman that Superman decided to kill them.
Not that it justifies what happened in the movie, but it's relevant.
One thing I have yet to hear from those complaining about what Superman did in MOS is an alternative. How was he supposed to have handled that?
If there was no other real option for him in that moment, then it's just complaining that they wrote him into that situation, rather than it actually being a betrayal of his character.