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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Man of Steel, the latest take on the legendary Superman character, is darker than the classic Superman films but lighter (and less bloody) than The Dark Knight trilogy. There's definitely a lot of violence (including a destroyed planet, necks being broken, hand-to-hand combat that results in deaths, and -- possible spoiler alert -- Superman actually killing an enemy), but it's more macro than micro in scale: buildings topple, the sea crashes down, planes plummet, etc. Language is infrequent but includes occasional use of "s--t," "d--k," and "ass." The romance even tamer: Lois Lane and Superman hold hands and kiss twice in one scene. Product placements are limited to IHOP, which is shown a few times, and Nikon (but there are more than 100 off-screen licensing deals/promotions in place globally for the movie). Expect plenty of messages about good and evil and identity and what it means to be a hero; ultimately this is a story about the duality of Superman's life (part Clark Kent, part Kal-El), as symbolized by his two fathers.
  • Families can talk about how this Superman differs from past interpretations of the comic-book hero. How is this story unique? What parts of the story are the same? Which adaptation do you like best, and why?
  • How does the impact of the violence in this movie compare to other superhero stories you've seen? What about to other types of movies, like thrillers?
  • General Zod's behavior is "terrorist-like" -- he's willing to have his army destroy anyone and anything to further his cause. But he also makes decisions not out of a sadistic need for violence, but for what he considers the greater good of his people. He's genuinely upset that Jor-El and then Kal-El won't help him. Is Zod completely evil?
  • How does Superman's relationship with his two fathers influence the different aspects of his personality?
  • Many have raised the issue that it goes against the established Superman character to (possible spoiler alert!) have him kill someone, as he does in this movie. How does that action affect your opinion of Superman? Does the act have repercussions?
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