|Here, a deranged Superman rips the Joker apart.|
What happened to make serial killers, cannibals, vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies such sympathetic figures in 21st century American popular culture? The right-wing American corporate culture made ruthless evil fashionable. That’s what happened.
Popular culture is a funhouse mirror that distorts — but actually reflects — the society which spawns it. Ruthless predatory behavior is admired and rewarded in American society, so what’s wrong with monsters? Nothing. They just want to tear open the throats of innocent people. Is that so wrong?
Even Superman is only acceptable now if he lets his foster father die and breaks some necks. During the Depression, the hunger for economic justice and anger at inequality were white-hot. Ordinary people, feeling powerless, naturally turned to superhero fantasy. The 21st century Superman, by contrast, is starting to seem indifferent to the suffering of ordinary people.
“What was I supposed to do, just let them drown?”
I guess the Man of Steel filmmakers actually expected us to take Pa Kent's answer seriously.