Super Heroes Leave Super Messes In Movies
May 3, 2014

Super Heroes Leave Super Messes In Movies

For the record, I’m not really much of a fan of super heroes, and I really don’t go out of my way to see super hero films. Only recently did I finally manage to catch The Avengers and Man of Steel.

I also get that these films are meant to entertain and that super hero films require a total suspension of disbelief – in other words, you can’t question these films too hard. However, what I’ve noticed is that the recent wave of super hero films is massive destruction on a scale that would likely require super heroes to help with the recovery.

Spoilers in case you haven’t seen the films, but there isn’t really much to spoil. Both these recent releases, as well as other super hero films including the various Spider-man, Iron Man, Thor and Batman movies have a common third act: a ‘battle royale’ that leaves at least part of a city in ruins.

The Avengers and Man of Steel have final acts that are almost identical – a major battle takes place as buildings crumple, cars go flying and people run for their lives. Yet few innocent people appear to be hurt and even the secondary characters (who conveniently happen to be in the fray) get little more than dirtied clothing and some minor cuts.

As someone who lived in New York City on 9/11 – and for the record my wife was running from the WTC when the second plane hit the towers – real destruction isn’t so neat or clean.

As a movie buff I appreciate a good action film, but I find the 20-minute-plus action sequences in these films to be just boring. Worse, it is quickly becoming so integral to the plot of these super hero films, that I find it be bordering on what I like to call “destruction porn.” Fans of these films find these fights “epic” I’ve discovered after daring to question the fights on a forum recently.

As a student of history I am saddened at times by what has been lost. Königsberg Castle is just one of dozens of sites that stood for centuries – only to be destroyed in the madness of World War II. All that remains today are photos.

Cities like Budapest, Frankfurt and Vienna are still beautiful, but there is a strange mix of the new with the old because all three cities were destroyed in the war. I doubt anyone would cheer the destruction of these cities in period news clips or call the fighting epic – at least not in a way meant to say entertaining.

Then there have been Hurricane Katarina and Super Storm Sandy, as well as recent tornadoes and other storms that have all laid waste to cities and town across the country. Clean up is slow and costly. The news shows people who lost everything.

Now in fairness,no real city was destroyed in Man of Steel – as Metropolis doesn’t exist; while the New York in The Avengers is a fictionalized version the Big Apple.

What I find annoying about these films is that you don’t see a scene with Superman and a super broom cleaning up. Batman didn’t exactly help restore Gotham City at the end of The Dark Knight Rises (spoilers: he went to Italy on vacation with Cat Woman). Spider-man just returns to school after he leaves a mess in New York.

My point is that these films – while being escapism – miss a key point: in real life, destruction of a city is a horrible thing, yet the movies make light of it. We never see the insurance companies that go broke, we don’t see the apartment dwellers crying when they’ve lost everything, and we certainly never see the walls of photos like I saw for months after 9/11 as loved ones hoped for any word of loved ones they’d likely never see again.

Finally, it also seems like lazy writing. Need a final act to a film – let’s raise a city to the ground. I’m old enough that I saw Superman on the big screen when it came out and it was incredible. There is damage and destruction, but Superman works to stop it! He even moves back time to prevent the death of Lois Lane. In the old days, Superman wasn’t the insurance company’s worst nightmare!

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Peter Suciu is a freelance writer and has covered consumer electronics, technology, electronic entertainment and the fitness sports industry for more than 15 years. In that time his work has appeared in more than three dozen publications including Newsweek, PC Magazine and Wired. His work has also appeared on,,, and Peter is a regular writer for

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