“I’ll be honest with you, there’s no Kryptonite in the movie.” – Zack Snyder, in EW interview about Man of Steel
Before Man of Steel came out, a big deal was made about the various things that wouldn’t be in the film, with Lex Luthor and Krytonite topping the list. The above quote from director Snyder spread over the web, with much made of Superman having emotional weaknesses instead of green rock type ones. True to form, while there was a hint or two of Lex’s existence, the bald man himself did not appear. But, in my opinion, Kryptonite did.
Now, before we get too far down the rabbit hole here, I’m not trying to say that having Kryptonite is a bad thing. In fact, I think that in certain circumstances, it can work quite well in a Superman story. The point I’m trying to make is that Snyder made a huge deal about the fact that there wouldn’t be any Kryptonite, and then there was.
So we all know Kryptonite is that green glowing rock that makes Superman weak. And fair enough, there was not one single glowing green rock. But from a storytelling perspective, the main thing about Kryptonite is that it’s a part of Krypton, and that the Krytptonian radiation makes Superman weak. In Man of Steel, Supes is exposed to a part of Krypton, specifically, the Kryptonian atmosphere, and it makes him weak. While there were no green rocks, Superman was still vulnerable to a piece of Krypton.
This may have been done as a clever way to set up Kryptonite’s effects in the next film, but it still feels like it was just a way to have your cake and weaken Superman too. I think that more of an effort should have been made to find other ways to break down Superman; maybe he just isn’t strong enough to break through Kryptonian alloys; I’d buy it. The point here is that it feels weird to say that there’s no Kryptonite when you’re just going to find another way to weaken Superman, and use the exact same principle behind Kryptonite.
The real question is, did having Kryptonite like this weaken the film too? Well, I think it kind of did. We wound up with an almost identical situation to the end of Superman Returns, where Superman throws a Kryptonite island away. In Man of Steel, Superman basically punches the Kryptonite atmosphere. Come on, guys, you opened with a scene that mixed Avatar and The Matrix in glaringly obvious ways; let’s not start copying bad Superman films too.
Do you think there was Kryptonite in Man of Steel?