Leon Weber is a family man. As such he finds himself pleasing his parents by following in the footsteps of his father, Boris Weber, to become a soldier in the German army. Leon starts a family of his own before falling on hard financial times. He starts to disagree more and more often with the leadership of the country, but by the time he seriously considers being anything other than a soldier, there’s a draft. Germany is at war.
Leon finds himself stationed in a town the German army has occupied. One day, his allies fall under siege by a super soldier unlike anything he has ever imagined and is launched out a window with a devastating blow. Before succumbing to his injuries, he sees the enemy leap across the battlefield and bring a building down on his brother.
This was the story of one of the German soldiers Wonder Woman killed in the fan-favorite “no man’s land” scene. Actually, it’s not, but it could have been. The character development of cannon fodder is bypassed so that audiences may more effectively root for the hero. In this case, a hero lauded for her example of heroism and compassion. A hero who is considered everything Superman was not in ‘Man of Steel’. Yes, Diana is different than Clark, but I argue that she is not better.
Consider Leon. Soldiers fight for their country. They also fight to protect their families and friends from foreign threats. Their motivations often don’t mirror those of their government. It’s hard to decipher which of those Germans have evil intent and which are just doing their best to survive. It’s not our job as movie goers to decipher this, but when judging the motivations and morality of one character, we should at least consider those of the people she kills. And make no mistake, Diana kills some folks. For us to think otherwise, the direction needs to explicitly show Diana pulling her punches and protecting the enemy from imploding structures. Superman does this with the military as they engage him in ‘Man of Steel.’ He doesn’t do this with fellow Kryptonian combatants because, well, they can take it. They are his super-human peers. Wonder Woman is literally a god smiting mortals.
The role reversal comes at the end. After a movie of low-level baddies buying it, Diana is given the opportunity to kill a top-level villain, Dr. Poison. Ares tempting her in full-grimstone attire is enough of a tell for Diana to decide she should probably give it a rest. Conversely, Superman is given the choice to dispatch the top-level villain of General Zod and makes the kill, much to the distress of many viewers. The question is, is it better to kill those whose sins and motivations are unclear or those who have a confirmed body count and will almost certainly continue their path of destruction?