As part of Entertainment Weekly's Batman v Superman coverage, they asked Henry Cavill about what made fans so angry over Man of Steel.
Zack Snyder's Man of Steel was enjoyed by many but also had a lot of detractors. The main complaint seemed to be the overall gloomy tone of the film and the fact that Superman seemingly didn't care much for life, human or otherwise.
When EW asked specifically about the mass destruction on Metropolis, Cavill pointed to Superman's inexperience in situations like these as the root cause for how it all went down.
EW: After the destruction we saw in Man of Steel, is Superman suffering from a kind of survivor”s guilt, since he saved the world, but destroyed a city?
Cavill: I wouldn”t necessarily say it”s a survivor”s guilt. I mean, that”s a different kind of thing because he”s above the threat. I think the most difficult thing for him at this stage of the story is that he has just come to terms with the fact that he is really, really quite powerful and he hasn”t found any major vulnerabilities yet, and despite this, despite the enormous power that he has, he still cannot do everything, and he really struggles with that. It”s not just a quick, “Okay, I get it. I can”t save everyone.” That takes a long time to work out.
EW: There were complaints from some fans that it was out-of-character for Superman to allow the Man of Steel fight to cause such destruction and loss of life. In Batman v Superman, that anger is part of the story – it”s why Bruce Wayne hates Superman. Did it surprise you that they incorporated that?
Cavill: I think that may have been part of the master plan all along. When it comes to the major story stuff I can”t really speak on that, because that was above my paygrade. What I can speak of is the idea of Superman, especially when the finger is pointed at collateral damage in the first movie. I mean, we”re talking about a greenhorn.
But what has Clark/Superman learned from the ordeal?
“[If] Superman has the same threat again, that”s a different story. He would, of course, bring collateral damage to an absolute minimum, but in that, he”s just trying to survive because if he doesn”t, the planet”s gone,” Cavill told EW. “That”s the excuse I make for Superman. He”s fresh and he”s new, and it”s very easy to point out the faults in someone after they”ve done it, but put yourself in their shoes and see what happens.”
Oh, I killed a bunch of people by hurling super-powered bodies into buildings? Who could have guessed that would happen? My bad.
As someone who actually enjoyed Man of Steel, the idea that Superman was a newb in that battle was still really silly to me. I get that everyone falls over themselves to tell origin stories and what we got was the story Snyder wanted to tell, but a Superman who doesn't have basic instincts to save everyone he can is not my kind of Superman. I'd much rather he'd at least had thoughts of that nature and expressed his inability to save them because he was too busy with Zod than to ignore the issue entirely. But what do you expect when your character is dissuaded by his trusted adopted father to save people in order to keep his powers secret?