While Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel has endured some criticism from the way it deviates from the established Superman character, it’s earned praise for the way it shows Superman absolutely trashing a city with little disregard for the human cost, thus keeping with Superman’s familiar motto, “Truth, Justice, and the Americans who got in the way.” But just how many Americans—and their American buildings and infrastructures—is, as always, a question best left to science to ruin.
So that’s exactly what scientist Charles Watson and his hazard-assessment team at Watson Technical Consulting did, at the request of BuzzFeed. By running analytical models on the Metropolis stand-ins of New York and Chicago, Watson estimates that some 129,000 people would have died so that Henry Cavill and Michael Shannon could finally punch each other, with another 250,000 going missing in the rubble, and nearly a million beyond that left injured. (The extent to which their injuries would prevent them from expressing gratitude to Superman for coming to their planet, so he could save it from threats he himself provoked, was unfortunately not included in the report.)
The overall impact, Watson says, “seemed to be similar to an air burst from a 20kt nuclear explosion in terms of shock effects, but without the radiation or thermal effects.” (But with the heartwarming effects of seeing Superman and Lois hug.) All told, he puts the cost of the physical damage for the film’s third act at $700 billion, with a total economic impact of around $2 trillion. And to put that in historical terms, 9/11 cost the relative chump-change of $55 billion in damages and $123 billion in economic impact, and that didn’t even end with anyone wrestling the bad guy. To put it in Man In Steel-appropriate terms, the carnage is equivalent to around 250 billion Cinn-A-Stack Pancakes from IHOP. But wasn’t it worth every penny and non-super human life so that Superman could learn to accept himself?