The upcoming trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice reveals that collateral damage from Superman’s fight with General Zod in Man of Steel really ticked off Batman, but Superman may have an even bigger problem on his hands: lawsuits. James Daily, co-creator of Law and the Multiverse and co-author of The Law of Superheroes, thinks it would be tough for Superman to defend himself in court, given that he could easily have chosen a less populated venue to confront Zod.
“I don’t recall any particularly good reason why it needed to happen there, and why it couldn’t have happened in, say, Antarctica,” Daily says in Episode 161 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. Of course people have the legal right to defend themselves, but they’re still required to exercise a reasonable level of care when it comes to those caught in the crossfire.
“What you can’t necessarily do is take a machine gun and just spray bullets wildly into a crowd in an effort to strike the person who’s threatening you,” says Daily. There are a few legal defenses available to Superman, including the sudden peril doctrine (people are held to a lower standard of care in an emergency) and the defense of justification (if Superman hadn’t fought Zod the consequences would have been worse).