Totally with you on the artistic value of having a fight in the city, but
also giving the fight some scale. I mean Thor v Loki in Avengers was pretty much like 2 ordinary guys fighting, Supes v Zod was waayyyy more epic - even when they trade a couple of blows on the ground, it's much more like two gods fighting. And yes, part of the epic feeling comes from the speed and the destruction - which was highlighted by the urban setting. It was an artistic choice and one that worked. Yeah, I suppose he and Zod could have levelled some mountain ranges, but that wouldn't be as dramatic IMO
It's weird how when we get on to the action in MOS, it always seems to come back to that old "Superman didn't save anyone" complaint. I suppose if you only see the movie once, you might get lost in all the action, so fair enough. But like somebody else said, watch the film again and you realise that's just not true.
As to the destruction being over the top or "disaster porn" what I
I truly believe is that Snyder/Nolan's point in making that choice was
that they wanted to say " If Superman really had a fight in the middle of a city, THIS is what it would look like."
On that note, I loved the fact that we got a very close up view of cars and people being flattened by the gravity beam. Avengers cops out a little by not showing civillian casualties ( you mean the Chitauri didn't manage to kill anyone, come on ? )
I don't want to knock the Avengers, it was tremendous fun, but I think
MOS was a spectacle at least one level up from that, with much greater
Besides, comparisons with Avengers start to break down when you think about them a little, especially in respect of the final battle, partly because the Kryptonians didn't send in a bunch of soliders on flying quad bikes, who carried small arms, they used a single immensely destructive weapon.
So containing the damage was a different challenge - a challenge they were able to succeed at because, there's more than just one person.
(also, Supes did contain it, to Metropolis, as opposed to the whole world)
Which is also, as you pointed out, the reason the Avengers were able to save a few people (well some of them did) is because....they're a team, which by definition means there's more than one of them. Superman, for all his great power, is one person, and can't be in two places at once. So he could either fight Zod, or let Zod smash more of Metropolis
Plus, Zod was virtually as powerful as Superman (which makes him infinitely more powerful, dangerous and destructive than the Chitauri ), whereas the Avengers who were solely fighting the Chitauri (Thor, Iron Man and Hulk) were basically picking off bugs (well, big nasty bugs, but compared to Thor, bugs).
And of course again there's the big picture, that if Supes doesn't stop Zod there and then, well, that's it for the human race (which is the reason he had to kill Zod, not to save the family, but to save humanity).
And in terms of saving people you've got:
the oil rig workers, the kids in the school bus, Lois in the escape pod, the helicopter pilot, the entire human race (by destroying the world engine), the family at the end. So there's actually a few saves there.
Why didn't he save anyone during the battle ?
Saving the pilot was a great example of what happens when Superman stops in the middle of a battle to save someone, he gets smacked from behind, which leaves the bad guys free to destroy more stuff, as Faora was gleefully slaughtering the soliders while Supes was busy with Nam Ek).
Fights (even between ordinary people) are messy things -particularly when the combatants are trying to kill each other, and have similar abilities.
The idea that Superman could exert some kind of control over the conditions is nonsense. In a real fight, you don't have time to think about what's going on. It's one thing to watch a fight, and think "Hey why doesn't that guy just..." but another thing to be in a fight and think of the right thing to do.
Superman is pretty damn green in this film, in fact he's never been in a fight before. Is it that much of a stretch that he makes some blunders ?
As to why Supes didn't try to catch the spaceship. Well, he was inside it when it crashed. I suspect that the reason he didn't catch it is that he just couldn't. Maybe he'd have been able to lift it if it was stationary, but an object that size (it's 300m long, so the size of 3 football fields) travelling at a few hundred miles per hour, would have been
really hard to stop (force = mass x change in acceleration, Newton's second law).
Remember he didn't actually stop the escape pod Lois was in (which would have been travelling pretty damn fast, as it was falling from orbit) he just caught up to it, tore it open, and pulled her out.
Superman in MOS isn't as powerful as Silver age Superman, who could have stopped the scout-ship with one finger.
Also, he crashed the ship into the crater left by the gravity beam, so not all that likely that anyone was left there. The fact is that almost all of the destruction caused in Metropolis was caused by the Gravity beam, or by
Zod (using heat vision to cut the skyscraper in half so it crumbled) or tossing Supes through a bunch of buildings - remember when Supes punches Zod and sends him flying it's above the buildings, it's then Zod who flies down into the city to hide and then ambush Supes).
(and again, big picture, if Zod has the ship, and then can kill Kal and get the codex, then humanity's history, as Zod will be able to raise a whole generation of kryptonian super-babies).
What seems a bit of a double standard is that people make it out that when Superman gets thrown through those buildings by Zod, it's somehow his fault for the destruction that results.
Yet, when the jets fire missiles which get deflected and then themselves
crash into the city, causing enormous destruction, no one goes "Wow, those air force bastards did a lot of damage to Metropolis"
Glad somebody else pointed that out ( I mean, those jets open up with missiles and cannon fire on main street Smallville, when they have troops on the ground, and civillians hiding in buildings. How many people would have got killed in the resulting explosions, waaayyy more than Supes and his Kryptonian enemies killed. And when the jets crashed, well, there goes downtown Smallville !)
So, in summary, I enjoyed the final battle of MOS, I'm not saying that with a few tweaks it could have been even better, and possibly avoided some of the criticisms that have been levelled at it. But hey, it is what it is.
I'm also not saying that MOS is a perfect film (I loved, LOVED, it ) but every film has its flaws, and MOS does too. However, I just can't see the action being one of them.
Sorry to everyone who's already brought all these arguments up in defence of MOS, as I'm covering old ground.