Posts Tagged ‘General Zod’


For part 1, click here: https://intothedance.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/man-of-steel-and-human-destiny-part-12/

The evolutionary history of the world in general gives us a clue as to what the birth of a legitimate, good “Übermensch” might entail.  From the Big Bang until now, we see a steady series of submissions.

RockOur world started out with the mineral kingdom…

Plant Kingdom…which ultimately had to “submit” itself to the role of supporting the emerging plant kingdom…

Animal_diversity…which eventually had to surrender itself to support the animal kingdom…

Adam and Eve…which, finally, along with everything else, was to become subject to humanity.

God blessed (humankind), saying: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

So I think we could agree with Nietzsche and like-minded people that humankind is meant, in its turn, to become submissive to something else.  But if that submission is consistent with what we know about world and evolutionary history, it must be to someone or something other than itself, not to some “super race” that seeks to dominate its own kind.

The Christian answer is that man must submit to God, and in so doing find his greatest purpose, meaning, peace, and exaltation.  As St. John the Baptist said of Jesus Christ:

He must increase; I must decrease. (John 3:30)

And in and through Him, we “submit” to one another in service.

To be a true “superman” is, in short, to become a saint.  And just like the sign on Superman’s chest, this “s-word” is humanity’s greatest hope.

henry-cavill-man-of-steel-trailerObviously, Clark Kent/Superman comes much closer to this ideal than General Zod, insofar as he uses his powers for good rather than evil, protection rather than domination.

But I don’t feel that “Man of Steel” delves as deeply into this as it could.  I don’t mean to suggest that it should be moralistic or didactic, but it would have helped in terms of supplying the raw material for a more profound story and greater character development.

As impressive as it is visually, and as deep and substantial as the theatrical preview made it look, “Man of Steel” is primarily an action and visual effects spectacle.  It’s not as strong on the “with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility” philosophy of the 2002 film “Spider-Man” (www.imdb.com/title/tt0145487/?ref_=sr_3), nor is it as strong as Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies in giving audiences time to really get to know the characters.

Nonetheless, it does give us some food for thought.

“Man of Steel” images obtained through a Google image search; others from Wikipedia

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So here is my promised take on Zack Snyder’s latest flick, a reboot of the “Superman” epic.

I enjoyed Fr. Barron’s observation of the conflict between external control and personal autonomy in the film.  I must confess, however, that this never occurred to me.

While watching the film, I was more drawn to the contrasting images of what it means to be a super-man.

movies-man-of-steel-henry-cavillOn the one hand, we have Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) — alias “Superman.”

General ZodBut then we also have General Zod (Michael Shannon), the arch-nemesis seeking to rebuild the lost empire of Krypton on the bones of vanquished humankind.

I’m not going to go into a routine exposition of how one uses his superpowers for good, and the other for evil.  There’s nothing new in that, nor does it take a summa cum laude doctoral graduate in quantum physics to see it.  But I do want to take that general split as it appears in “Man of Steel” and look a little deeper into it.

Actually, it is from one of Zod’s soldiers, Faora-Ul (Antje Traue) that the audience gets a good summation of his brand of super-humanity.  While engaged in one of the film’s many slam-bam action sequences, she tells Kent that she and her companions possess an “evolutionary advantage” over him in that he has a sense of morality, and they do not.

She then caps off her assertion with the chilling phrase: “…and evolution always wins.”

NietzscheMany people are unaware that the term “Superman” was coined by the 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.  An unapologetic nihilist, Nietzsche believed that such things as religion and morality were relics of a bygone phase of human evolution.

What is more, he believed that humanity was progressing beyond that childish phase — “beyond good and evil” — and was only meant to progress further from then on.

Eventually, this evolutionary progression would produce a new race of man: The Übermensch, or “Superman.”  Free from the restraints of religion and morality, this master race would rule the mindless rabble of humanity by virtue of their power and ability to exercise dominion.

Nietzschean philosophy would seem to be in some sense the height of Social Darwinism, of the “survival of the fittest” philosophy.  General Zod and his cronies are clearly super-humans of the Nietzschean Übermensch variety.


But there is another aspect of the evolution question that is useful here, and that is the general notion that our current state — that is, as far as the physical aspect of our being is concerned — is the result of progression from one state to another, and that perhaps man is still meant to progress to another, more exalted stage.

What might that next stage be, and do we see it reflected in Clark Kent?  We’ll tackle that in part 2.

Movie images obtained through a Google image search; remaining images from Wikipedia

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