There’s been much talk the past few days about the devastation wrought during the final act of Man of Steel. When General Zod and his team of Kryptonian fanatics “unleash the World Engine,” bad, bad stuff starts happening in Metropolis. And then Superman and Zod face off in a battle of the titans that is hugely destructive to Kal-El’s soon-to-be adopted city.
Putting aside the troubling aspects of that final fight for the moment — why didn’t Superman lure Zod away from the city? Why don’t we ever see him, you know, saving someone? — the question comes up of how much damage was done to Metropolis once the dust had settled in Man of Steel. And of course, the Internet has already heard this call, and it has responded.
Scientist and “disaster expert” Charles Watson and his Watson Technical Consulting outfit have attempted to answer the question both in terms of the human toll Metropolis paid as well as the financial cost. “They ran analyses of the World Engine ground zero in Central Manhattan and central Chicago,” according to Buzzfeed, “finding that the major damage would be a mile in diameter.”
The WTC estimates that in the days after the attack, 129,000 people would be confirmed killed, nearly a million would be injured, and over a quarter of a million would still be missing. The impact ?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.?
Additionally, some $700 billion in physical damage would be done to the city. Cleanup, economic impact, and other costs would eventually bring that number into the trillions of dollars. (To give that number some real-world context, one of the worst events in U.S. history — the 9/11 attacks — cost $55 billion.)
As for the cost, if any, to Superman’s credibility in his debut performance as Earth’s protector? well, I guess they’re saving that for the sequel.