9 Biggest Plot Holes in "Man of Steel"

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9 Crazy Mistakes in Man of Steel

Still from Man of Steel (2013)
Superman (Henry Cavill) from Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros Pictures

The Superman reboot movie Man of Steel is a blockbuster hit and the start of the DC Extended Universe of films. It's controversial for many reasons but is beloved by fans around the world. But like any movie it has mistakes. Some are little ones and some are great big Superman sized plot holes. 

Warning: Spoilers for Man of Steel

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Plot Hole #1: The Magic Truck

Still from Man of Steel
Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros. Pictures

In one scene Clark Kent is working at a truck stop. Some jerk is harassing a waitress and Clark wants him to stop or he'll “have to ask him to leave”. There's a great moment when the guy pours beer in his head and Clark, seething in anger, walks away from him.

Later the guy is walking out of the truck stop and sees his truck impaled on a bunch of electrical poles.

Here's the problem, no one saw or heard anything. The guy's surprised. So no one said, “Hey some guy out back is picking your truck up and wrapping it around telephone poles.” That's impossible, but it helps to bring Zack Snyder's joke home. It's about the surprise.

But think about it. Is it possible for someone to pick up a truck, tear down electrical poles and shove them though the truck without anyone seeing? Sure it was dark, but there are huge floodlights over it. Plus, it's within eye-shot of the door meaning it was in front of all the windows.

Now think about the noise. Could you do that without making a ton of noise? Think about how a car accident sounds and multiply that by 1000. The noise would be deafening. Even if the sound of the truck having metal jammed in it didn't make enough noise to wake the dead, the electrical poles are making sparking sounds. Noises after it's already been torn up. What kind of noise would they make being torn apart? Plus, wouldn’t people notice the electricity going out.

So this is a huge mistake. It would have been better to just make Clark just punch the guy. Why not? He could pull it back enough to bruise him. But if you have to have him beat the guy’s truck just push it into a wall or another truck so it looks like an accident. Wouldn't have been as funny, though.

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Plot Hole #2: The Incredible Flying Lois

Still from Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros Pictures

Near the end of the movie, Lois is captured by the Kryptonians and taken aboard the ship. Later she falls as a massive black hole is created above them. Lois starts falling to Earth. Meanwhile, everything around them is sucked into the intense gravity of the black hole except Lois. She keeps falling. 

Rocks and dirt on the ground are being violently pulled into the anomaly. Superman flies up and catches her in midair. Then he starts getting sucked in by the intense pull of the singularity. Superman struggles and finally escapes. He carries Lois to the ground for a passionate kiss.

But why wasn’t Lois sucked into the black hole? Why was she falling when everything around her, including cars and buildings, were getting pulled in? Could she discover she was Kryptonian and was actually flying to the ground? Was she stronger than Superman? 

We’ll never know, but it makes a daring rescue.

Click the link to watch the scene

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Plot Hole #3: Masterful False Documents

Still from Man of Steel (2013)
Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) in Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros Pictures

When the Kent’s adopted the young baby Kal-El they had to lie about where he came from. How do you explain having a new baby? Maybe there was a snowstorm and no one saw Martha for months, so they pretended she had the baby at home. But that creates a problem.

They couldn't apply for a birth certificate because he was older than 7 days when they found him. Without a birth certificate, they have no proof of citizenship and can't get a social security number. Superman is basically an illegal immigrant, meaning he never got permission by the US government to become a resident. He can't get a green card since one rule says the person must have been inspected by immigration agents before entry into the country.

So what are the Kents to do? They fake it. Today, that’s not an easy thing to do. But let's say Clark gets a fake birth certificate and social security number. All well and good. He goes to school in a small Midwest town and gets odd jobs. 

But how would he fair in a big city like Metropolis? How did he get military clearance to work on a classified base in the Arctic? How could he attend a prestigious university to get a Journalism degree so he could work at the Daily Planet? We’ll never know but it’s a lot more interesting than seeing him visiting the immigration office. 

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Plot Hole #4: Kryptonians Always Speak English

Still from Man of Steel (2013)
Faora (Antje Traue) and Zod (Michael Shannon) in Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros Pictures

In the movie, the Kryptonians always speak English. We know they have a native language since the aliens have a written language. But no one ever speaks it.

That makes sense when we're on Krypton since we can assume they’re speaking Kryptonian and we're just hearing it translated. But why do they speak English on Earth? Everyone they talk to completely understands them. They even use English when talking among themselves when they're alone.

For that matter, why even speak American English? We know they can speak and understand multiple languages from Zod’s “You are not alone” speech which is broadcast around the world. Why adopt the language of the very people you're going to kill? No other culture in history adopted the language of the people they conquered. If anything, they should have forced everyone to learn and speak Kryptonian.

Sure it makes it easier for the audience but it doesn't make sense.

Click the link to watch the scene

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Plot Hole #5: Metropolis Never Evacuated

Still from Man of Steel (2013)
Perry White (Laurence Fishburne) and Jenny Jurwich (Rebecca Buller) in Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros Pictures

Zod activates his World Engine which will terraform the planet. The process increases Earth's mass and changes the atmosphere. As the military says “they're turning Earth into Krypton.” A massive ship hovers over the city and shoots a huge blast of energy into the ground. Huge gravity waves cause cars and other objects to fly into the air and come crashing down. Buildings start crumbling and people flee in terror for a few blocks. Yet there are still tons of people in the area when Superman and Zod come crashing in.

If you saw anything like this would you hang around for a looky-loo? What would make you think you’d survive five minutes in ground-zero of Zod’s attack? Why would there still be hundreds of people on the ground gawking less than 10 miles away? 

The best example is the couple that almost gets fried by Zod in Chicago’s Union Station. They’re not alone. There are dozens of people in there when Superman and Zod crashland. I understand people are trying to get out of town but who thinks the fastest way to get out of town is to wait for a train?

The strangest part is that Perry White and the Daily Planet workers don't leave till almost a half-hour into the attack. Why? It’s true that during the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center more than 90% of people delayed evacuating the buildings to do things like shut down computers or change their shoes. But no one kept on working like there was nothing to worry about. Did Perry have to tell the people it was time to go? Are they so afraid of getting fired that they’d hang back?

It makes Perry look more heroic, but it’s ridiculous that so many people would see buildings falling, cars crashing and not hightail it out of there. But it does raise the stakes for Superman so Zack Snyder doubled-down on the extras.

Click the link to watch the scene

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Plot Hole #6: Daylight Around the World

Still from Man of Steel (2013)
World Engine in Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros Pictures

Zod releases the ancient Kryptonian terraforming machine known as the “World Engine”. There are two parts to it. One is in Metropolis and the other was sent to the other side of the planet in the Indian Ocean. Superman destroys the first device and then flies back to Metropolis to fight Zod. The scene is amazing, but there’s one problem. It’s daylight in both places.

In the scene right when the World Engine is started they show that it’s daylight in Metropolis and the sun is coming up (or down) in the Indian Ocean. That means the sun is shining on both sides of the Earth which is "ridonkulous."

There’s no way to explain it. That’s like saying people in Argentina and China can both enjoy the sunrise. It can’t happen. A five-year-old knows that. Yet that’s what happens in Man of Steel.

It would have been pretty easy to fix. Just make it light in Metropolis and dark over the Indian Ocean. But that doesn’t look very cool.

​​Click the link to watch the scene

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Plot Hole #7: Whale of a Tale

Still from Man of Steel (2013)
Clark (Henry Cavill) swimming with whales in Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros Pictures

After Clark saves the oil rig workers he's knocked out by the blast and thrown in the ocean. While underwater he looks up and sees a pair of humpback whales swimming by. It looks amazing but makes no sense.

There was a massive explosion and it would have sent marine life running for the hills. Why are whales swimming leisurely by? If you think that's normal behavior for whales you're wrong.

After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, the number of whales in the area dropped dramatically. This is years after the explosion much less a few minutes after an earth shattering explosion.

A fan theory suggests that Aquaman was controlling the whales either to cause the disaster or as an act of eco-terrorism or to save Superman. The idea that the whales were helping Superman is stupid because he couldn't have known Superman would be there and they did a lousy job of helping him. Just floating around singing. So that means Aquaman sent helpless whales on a suicide mission to start a massive explosion. Not likely.

It looks really cool but is a big mistake.

Click the link to watch the scene

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Plot Hole #8: Arctic Freeze

Still from Man of Steel (2013)
Lois Lane (Amy Adams) in Man of Steel (2013). Warner Bros Pictures

When Lois Lane goes to a military base in the Arctic she’s warned not to go out at night since the temperature drops “minus 40”. After it gets dark she sneaks out and starts snapping pictures. Lois follows Clark Kent through the ice and into the alien ship.

Let's ignore the fact that the military didn't think to keep an eye on an investigative reporter on their top secret base. It's hard to keep warm in -40 temperature. A survival guide written by people familiar with the challenge shows she should have frozen to death. You don't bundle up but dress in layers. You don't wear gloves but mittens to keep your fingers warm.

How cold is 40 below? You can throw hot water in the air and it'll freeze into ice before it hits the ground. It's so cold that you can feel your eyes in the socket and it's painful to breathe.

So the idea that she doesn't have to cover her face and can pull her hood back is ridiculous.

What's even stranger is why Superman would fly off and leave her alone in the frozen wasteland to be found the next morning. Now that's cold no matter who you are.

Click the link to watch the scene

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Plot Hole #9: No One Figures Clark Is Superman

Still of Henry Cavill as Clark Kent on
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent on "Man of Steel" (2013). Warner Bros

It makes no sense that people don’t know Clark is Superman.Superman saves the day and flies off, Clark Kent shows up at the Daily Planet and is introduced as a new employee to Lois Lane, the only person who knows his secret. I’m not going to complain about the glasses disguise because glasses make total sense as Superman’s disguise. But why doesn’t everyone on the planet know Clark Kent from Smallville is Superman?

Every clue you could ever want points to it. Zod is looking for Kal-El in Smallville. The military follows him, so they know Zod is there looking for Kal-El. In the middle of the battle, Superman shows up and starts fighting them. So, obviously, Superman has a connection to Smallville.

Not only that, they show up at the Kent farm looking for him and find the spaceship in Martha’s barn. The military gets the ship and uses it as a weapon to defeat Zod. That means they know Kal-El is in Smallville and his ship crashed on the Kent farm. Putting two and two together they should have every reason to believe Martha Kent’s son Clark is Superman.

Even without those huge glaringly obviously clues Lois figured out Clark was Superman. So there must be dozens of other bread crumbs leading to Superman. Still the government can't figure it out. Military intelligence indeed.

Final Thoughts

So these are the nine biggest plot holes in Man of Steel. The next time you watch the movie try not to notice them and just enjoy the ride. After all, it's just a movie right?

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Mitchell, Maurice. "9 Biggest Plot Holes in "Man of Steel"." ThoughtCo, Apr. 12, 2016, thoughtco.com/biggest-plot-holes-in-man-of-steel-4026378. Mitchell, Maurice. (2016, April 12). 9 Biggest Plot Holes in "Man of Steel". Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/biggest-plot-holes-in-man-of-steel-4026378 Mitchell, Maurice. "9 Biggest Plot Holes in "Man of Steel"." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/biggest-plot-holes-in-man-of-steel-4026378 (accessed March 18, 2018).