[WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS FOR AGE OF ULTRON AND MAN OF STEEL FOLLOW]
A large amount of people did not like the violence at the end of Man of Steel. The carnage at the hands of the Superman and Zod was too much for some and they argued that Superman would never allow something like that to happen, much less to people in his own city. This sentiment was shared
by Joss Whedon and is much of the reason why The Avengers spend so much time dealing with saving people in Age of Ultron; which is a waste.
People seem to forget that in Man of Steel, Superman is not a wisdom-filled hero with years of experience. When the Kryptonians invade, and subsequently attack, they’re fighting a Superman who has never been in a fight. A hero who has restrained himself for ages and now has to fight for his life and the lives of humanity. He’s also outnumbered by people from his homeworld that have literally been bred to kill. Outnumbered, outmatched, and unskilled; this is not an icon.
The damage caused is a result of all of those things. He does what fits the situation. He fights to survive. He fights to save. However, some things can’t be avoided. The deaths, and ultimately the people themselves, matter to Superman throughout the film. The final battle is a glimpse into an experience of dealing with an unprepared and untested hero. It made perfect sense in the context of the film, but people were still upset; including Joss Whedon.
In order to fight this, Joss Whedon takes The Avengers to an insanely high level of saving innocents. At one point, Captain America declares that “not even one” civilian can perish or be left behind because that would mean their failure. There are so many lines and moments spent saving people that it gets kind of ridiculous. In a global war with a score of super-powered beings, people are going to die. It’s just going to happen. Collateral damage is inevitable.
Age of Ultron doesn’t believe this and suffers for it. Time is spent showing civilians getting saved time after time, even though the contexts leave plenty dead. Wakanda battle? Tons of people killed. South Korea? People most likely died throughout the highway chase. Sokovia? VAPORIZED. They never cleared the whole country. How could they? Even in the midst of them spending time talking about saving people, they don’t. Depending on how you view it, more people actually die as a result of the Avengers and their failings.
This would be rectified is they spent a little less time talking about how they love saving innocents and just do it. It’s matter-of-fact preaching on the part of Whedon, almost as if to say, “DC kills their humans and we don’t!” We know that heroes are around to look out for us. We don’t need that element of their existence shoved down our throats.
This also stems from the fact that DC and Marvel are two very different cinematic universe beasts. DC is the dark, gritty, somewhat realisticly ground set of films. Marvel movies are bright, colorful, funny, and explosive. There isn’t much gravitas relegated to Marvel films. The stakes are never really too high. Tier-1 characters almost never die. Tier-2 characters are expendable. Civilians are an afterthought, which is why Age of Ultron’s sheer weightiness of dealing with them is a pure copout. It’s just another feather in the cap for them to say, “We’re better than DC; we don’t kill our inhabitants.” That’s absolutely ridiculous.
An awful amount of real people die in an awful amount of real wars. That would only be exacerbated if we added superheroes into the mix. Villains are always willing to go further than any hero which means that humans would constantly be in danger. If Captain Kirk spent his time making sure every single red-shirt survived, then Star Trek would’ve been a lot more boring, a lot more stressful for Kirk, and a hell of a lot less fun to watch. Experiencing the cost of human lives isn’t something that superhero movies need to shy away from and looks to be the center of conflict for those involved in Batman v Superman. Cut Superman some slack.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”