- Moderate - Man of Steel is significantly darker and edgier than the 1978 Superman film, but nowhere close to the same extent as something like The Dark Knight; or Batman Begins, for that matter.
- General Zod and his soldiers wear armor that looks somewhat skeletal. Potentially frightening for younger viewers.
- A school bus full of kids falls to the water from a bridge. It starts to sink, risking to drown everybody inside, until a kid breaks the backdoor and uses his superhuman strength to lift it up and push it to the shore.
- The tornado scene can be intense and disturbing --particularly the resulting death of an important character.
- The scenes of destruction on Krypton, and later scenes of widespread urban destruction in Smallville and Metropolis, may be upsetting. People are shown panicking and fleeing, and while no civilian deaths are shown, a young woman is trapped under rubble at one point (she is freed and survives unharmed) and there are lots of falling buildings/crumbling skyscrapers.
- At one point a young boy (young Clark) has difficulty controlling his developing superpowers, involuntarily seeing through the skin of a school teacher and several of his classmates. There's no blood but the sudden sight of the woman's muscles and bones upsets Clark (and may upset young viewers) and he runs out of the room. Later something similar happens, with another alien man freaking out as his senses are overloaded by Earth stimuli and he finds he can see through his gloves to the bones of his own hand.
- A scene where a family taking shelter in a museum is threatened by an alien's heat vision growing nearer and nearer to them might be frightening, especially when Superman is forced to kill him to stop it, snapping the alien man's neck with a crunch (the man's body is shown falling to the ground) and appearing very distraught. It is also implied (though young viewers would probably not pick up on this) that the alien deliberately tried to achieve this result so that he might die in battle, a more honorable equivalent to suicide. This's the more violent than one might expect from a Superman movie.