Superman’s battle with Zod cost $2 trillion, killed 129,000 people

June 21, 2013

It's not exactly a spoiler that "Man of Steel," Zach Snyder's new Superman movie, culminates in a giant, destructive battle between our hero and his Kryptonian rival, General Zod (who you know is evil because he's played by Michael Shannon), which wreaks havoc on the city of Metropolis.

How much havoc, exactly? Jordan Zakarin of Buzzfeed, being a genius, asked disaster expert Charles Watson and his crew at Watson Technical Consulting andKinetic Analysis Corp. to prepare estimates. Watson's conclusion: Superman's battle killed 129,000 people and injured 1 million, an impact on the scale of the nuclear attack on Nagasaki. It caused $750 billion in physical damage; 9/11, by contrast, caused $55 billion in physical damage. (The damage to Manhattan in "The Avengers" is estimated at around $160 billion.) It adds up to total damage on the order of $2 trillion:

The complete Kinetic Analysis Corp. analysis is available here, presented in the form of an editorial from The Daily Planet's Perry White (played in the movie by Laurence Fishburne). Here's a taste:

The dust from collapsing buildings had not settled before LexCorp’s infamous Kinetic Assessment Cartel (KAC) were spreading across the city, calculators in hand, tallying the damage and, no doubt, getting a jump on their potential competitors for lucrative post-apocalypse recovery contracts. KAC’s initial estimate of over $750 Billion in direct physical damage is truly astronomical, and probably correct, but not as astronomical as the profits these vultures hope to reap from the city’s misfortune. Of course the city must be rebuilt, but we must say we are disappointed in Mayor Berkowitz for giving LexCorp a sole source contract for this vital task. We suspect the Mayor will regret this contract at some point. With billions more in cleanup, economic impact, and other costs the total will easily be in the trillions of dollars.

Finally, while we honor the bravery and dedication of our Armed Forces, especially the sacrifice of Col. Hardy in destroying the World Engine, we would be remiss if we did not point out that our military was initially not only ineffective, but the source of considerable unnecessary damage. An assessment of the Battle of Smallville by Dr. Edward Johnson of the University of Metropolis has shown that fully 87% of the damage to Smallville was caused by friendly fire, with billions of dollars of aircraft, satellites, and other hardware lost during the ensuing conflict. Again, we do not fault the courageous airmen and soldiers who valiantly fought alien invaders possessed of superhuman strength and vastly superior technology, but our leaders showed failures of judgment and management that will require serious review. And what of the so-called "Superman"? First, our government cowardly turned him over to the enemy, then worked with him to repel the forces of General Zod from his adoptive yet ungrateful home. The question of how our "intelligence" community with their multi-billion dollar budgets and intrusive, probably unconstitutional monitoring could fail to note an alien living among us when a single reporter, our own award winning Lois Lane, was able to find him using little more than hard work and a notepad is an embarrassment to those agencies, one that cries out for a Congressional Inquiry. The amateurish attempt to follow our new found
hero (dare we say, superhero) at the cost of a multi-million dollar drone was simply absurd. General Swanwick should be ashamed of himself for ordering it – did not the Man of Steel earn our trust?

Left unexplained is why KAC decided to make its in-universe equivalent a subsidiary of LexCorp.

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Ezra Klein · June 21, 2013