Sunday, June 16, 2013

Over thinking the movies, Man of Steel

Point one, Spoilers.
Point two, I did enjoy the movie and I think great many people will too.
Point three, I will have fun at its expense.
Now to the fun bit.

Generic Superman origin story opens on Krypton with the Gladiator explaining geology to the government.   The armwavium used to explain the impending doom                  is the act of mining Krypton's core for energy has hollowed out the planet. This raises a few questions.

Firstly what was the core being mined for.  And don't say Kryptonite.  I am taking a mostly uniformitarian stance. I am assuming that physics is the same over time and space and therefore what happens on earth can happen elsewhere, it is a science fiction universe so there are some rules being bent but they are bent the same way every where.

It was stated that the interior of the planet had been hollowed out to power their civilization. A civilization with enormous power needs. Flying cities on a high gravity planet demonstrate that clearly.

Option A Heat. Assumption, Krypton is a super-Earth with a similar composition.

Cooling the planets liquid outer core to extract heat would provide massive power but would accelerate the enlargement of the solid inner core. The cooling would shrink the core contracting the planet around it.  While that could cause earthquakes and volcanism it would not explode.  Mercury has experienced a similar phenomenon and will not be going anywhere for another 5 billion years.

The down side is you would have to use the heat to produce secondary energy storage media. On the upside while you're down there you would have access to stupendously large amounts of iron.  However this model disagrees with the notion of physically mining the world's core.

Option B, Thorium and Uranium Assumption, still assumes and iron rich core but not necessarily having an liquid phase outer core.  Because of Krypton's advanced age Thorium with its approximately 13 billion year half life would be the most abundant fissile material on the planet.

I have no idea if there are any processes that could produce minable deposits of fissile elements in a planetary core, secondly I doubt the volumes would approach planetary collapse scales. If they were extracting iron and other industrial materials while they were down there perhaps they could shrink the planet a few tenth of a percent. Not that Krypton would stoop so low as to use fission.

Option C, Cavorite  a form of unobtainium opaque to all radiation including gravity.  Advantage, would be ideal for building floating cities, would be valuable enough to drive planetary scale ventures.

Now none of these options explain the later explosion of Krypton.  I propose waste plutonium was stored in the core as backfill for their mining.  When the exotic alloy supports failed and the mantle and crust fell on the core the mass went supercritical and kaboom.  Bonus Kaboom if there was an excess of heavy water on the planet. Though I suspect this would mostly result in a remelted and highly radioactive core and mantle which might just be the thing to revive the economy.

Now that I have the geologic arm waving out of my system its time to pick on the more conventional annoyances.

At the time of Kryptons collapse and detonation the skies were well with seemingly self contained flying skyscrapers.  They appeared able to hover at any elevation and largely ignored aerodynamics in favour of style.  Since they clearly knew the failure was coming why could not a few city ships escape. A failure made even more senseless in the face of two technologies that would allow a hot restart of the civilization nearly anywhere.  Replicator level additive manufacturing and exo-womb technology. With those technologies in their control extinction should have been near impossible.

Since Kryptonian technology is not to blame you have to consider their culture.  With both a planned economy and planned reproduction it strikes me that a metaphor of Communism. The American vision of a communist state, grey and colourless.  Krypton is nearly all in greys, with a few speckles of gold on the big hats to show rank. In the Fortress of Solitude, the communist metaphor is delivered with a proverbial hammer in the form of the animated history of Krypton done in the style of soviet art deco. Lastly baby pod was modeled after this classic space probe body.
Place superbaby here.
Luna 9

Yet even if I accept the soviet Krypton metaphor and the empire collapsed because the center stopped managing the fringes I still have trouble with the wholesale extinction of the race.  Zod states that their culture had an empire lasting 100,000 years.  A time span longer than we have been making cave paintings, alters my view of Ka El and any other surviving Kryptonians.

From that moment on Ka El, stopped being the lost son of a dead civilization, and became the last son of a has been civilization.  For at least 100,000 years they terraformed worlds, expanded through the galaxy and failed to produce splinter cultures.  Am I to believe that not one colony broke off to pursue its own agenda, or that the terraforming was so technology dependant that one failed energy shipment dooms your world.  Am I? If yes than I am convinced that they earned their doom, and Krypton truly was a has been civilization.  They had a run and failed.  To further doom them, the only template for the kryptonian people was on one memory chip modeled after Lucy's head.  The moral of the movie, always have an off site backup.

The nitpicking list.
  • As my sister pointed out if Superman can function in a vacuum and kryptonia air weakens him don't breath
    • Alternately He has a Cloaca and breathing is not the only gas exchange option for him.
  • The alien USB key was found not to be on the periodic table and therefore non terrestrial.  Find a better chemist. 
  • Metropolis is nearly equatorial, its antipode was depicted as being in the south Indian ocean, but native net fisherman was not dressed for anything but the tropics. 
  • The Phantom drive plus Phantom drive = black hole final battle would have won Stephan Hawking his Nobel Prize, if any instruments where their to measure it.  The resulting singularity would have been small enough to evaporate in a small fraction of a second, proving him right.
  • On Ellesmere island, night is a season.  And 40 below is only the beginning of cold. 
  • The west coast fourth wall is thin, in good ways.  Canadian Shoulders exist and only a Canadian production team would do with a logging truck and trees what they did.   
  • It took 12 years but a movie came out for the american audience that depicts skyscrapers being demolished.
  • During a redundantly long battle, full of hulk smash moments, was waiting for it to end so I could have more plot.  
  • In the Kryptonian sky a moon is shown as already broken up with massive chunks conveniently hovering in space.  Hollywood it is time you learn about Roche limits. 
  • What organ got repurposed to produce x-rays
  • Did Smallville have a cancer outbreak in the late 1990s from Clark Kents uncontrolled X-ray vision.  
There are naturally endless was to pick on this movie but this was my things. 

No comments: