Thoughts on, and a place to discuss, the plot details we can’t reveal in our review.
It comes as no surprise that Henry Cavill defeats Michael Shannon; this is, after all, a Superman movie, not a General Zod movie. What is surprising, however, is that Cavill kills Shannon, and that he does it by snapping Shannon’s neck with his bare hands. This sort of “cool,” over-the-top brutality—while pretty typical for a Snyder movie—doesn’t gel with Superman’s character.
Forcing Superman to do something un-Superman-like can often make for a good story. In this case, however, it comes across as unearned; by the time Cavill kills Shannon, he’s only been Superman for a few days.
Aside from Shannon’s death and the fact that baby Superman’s penis appears on-screen a second time, Man Of Steel’s biggest plot twist involves the revelation that the Codex—the thing Shannon is after, but which the audience has a really hard time caring about—was inside Cavill all along. This, however, probably won’t spark as many discussions as Zod’s death—or, for that matter, the movie’s final scene, wherein Cavill dons fake glasses and shows up to his first day of work as a Daily Planet reporter. It’s a crowd-pleasing, franchise-continuity-defining coda. It also doesn’t make much sense.
Unlike the popular, overachieving scholar-athlete of most prior depictions, Man Of Steel’s Clark Kent is a working-class drifter with no close friends. So how does he suddenly land a non-janitorial job at the DC universe’s Newspaper of Record? The short answer to this question is that Man Of Steel’s plot was cooked up by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan—two writers who’ve never met a plot hole that they couldn’t overlook.
The source of Superman’s powers changes several times—from the Sun to the Earth’s atmosphere to a combination of the two. The US government can’t find Cavill, but all Amy Adams has to do is interview an IHOP manager. Like Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises (also co-plotted by Goyer), Man Of Steel is a field day for narrative nitpickers.