I don't have any intention of misdirecting you with this editorial; if you're looking for a "which movie is better" argument, you won't find it here. I'm using this space to discuss what really needs to be discussed in the The Avengers vs. Man of Steel debate in terms of the Battle of New York and the Battle of Metropolis. Frankly, the issue posed is not one of Superman having or not having the ability to save everyone in Metropolis and how he should have taken a play out of the Avengers' handbook in regards to protecting civilians. What Superman did and how he fought made sense by the movie's logic; it was his first battle, he was one man, and he had a lot of ground to cover. This is not the issue.
The issue comes in how the movies deal with the aftermath of the destruction. After all, that's what we're really complaining about here, right? Think about it: if Man of Steel played out the way it had and then Superman was immediately charged with the consequences (or to a lesser extent, we saw how the loss of life affected civilians of Metropolis), we'd have a much different picture. This is the great separator of the destruction between The Avengers and Man of Steel.
The Avengers' ending is not necessarily a happy and hopeful one despite the levity that plays throughout the film. As we enter the final scene, a news anchor's voice rings out. He says (regarding the destruction): "Despite the devastation of what has been confirmed as an extraterrestrial attack, the extraordinary heroics of the group known as the Avengers has been to many a cause not only for comfort, but for celebration." This is matched against the imagery of people placing flowers and candles at memorial sites for victims and interwoven with interviews from civilians saying things like "I don't feel safer with those things out there." and "It seems like there's a lot they're not telling us." Not only that, a New York senator is even seen saying, "These so called heroes have to be held responsible for the destruction done to this city." Are things all well and good for New York? Not in the slightest.
And let's also not forget the alternate opening scene with Maria Hill explaining Nick Fury's role in the gravity of the destruction after the Battle of New York. The scene was shot with the intention of relaying the fact that the filmmakers were completely aware that the destruction had to mean something to this universe. This isn't something you can pass off. And let's remember that just as Superman was a beginner with Man of Steel, The Avengers is the origin story of the Avengers and it's the team that is the protagonist of the story; not any of the individuals on their own. This is their first round-about as well and they'll be held accountable for the actions to an extent (as Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have already shown), but more likely in greater detail in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Man of Steel, however (which has the same run-time as The Avengers at 143 minutes), does not immediately deal with these pressing issues. Man of Steel ends with the citizens of Metropolis going about their lives as if nothing ever happened; they discuss going to a sports event, the Daily Planet is still functioning and even hiring, and not a soul seems to be mourning the loss. To add, the end even features Superman destroying a government satellite to keep his privacy. He's not held accountable for this, either (despite the fact he just destroyed something worth millions of dollars for the sake of hiding his arctic hideout). Superman seems to be affected by *spoiler alert* Zod's death *end spoiler alert* but nothing else, and he only seems affected by the aforementioned spoiler directly after it happens.
Now, I was directed today by someone on Twitter that there is deleted material that shows Metropolis rebuilding after Zod's attack. To this, I have two responses: the first is "Why wasn't this put into the film?" A movie claiming to be a "more realistic" take on the Superman mythos should probably take some big steps to flesh out the world in the aftermath of an enormous attack on civilians. My second point is that a city rebuilding itself is not a city showing it has come to terms (or is still coming to terms) with the amount of loss it just experienced. Zack Snyder claimed that the loss of Metropolis was "about 5,000" casualties, which feels incredibly low in my opinion, but who am I to argue the director? After the attacks of 9/11, the United States was thrown into disillusionment for months, with those directly affected saying years. I've heard arguments of "Well, the end of the movie takes place months after the actual attack, which is why everyone seems okay."
To that I say, "Then why on earth were we not shown that disillusionment? Isn't it almost completely necessary to this story of Superman finding his identity?" I've also heard many stances saying that Man of Steel's sequel (the Batman vs. Superman film) will directly deal with this issue. I'm wary of that for a few reasons: the first is that it's a film that seems to be making Superman's role and presence less and less important through the rumors and confirmations we've been getting about the sequel so far, with the possible addition of a realm of established Batman characters and a (possibly new) Batman love-interest. Another reason is that it wouldn't explain why the end of Man of Steel is just already so okay with the destruction that has just happened.
So, in conclusion, I really just wanted to break a few things down for this seemingly self-perpetuating argument for those who continually match up the destruction between The Avengers and Man of Steel. It's not the destruction that happens in the movie that matters; it's how each film deals with it realistically and appropriately to the universe its created.
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