Man of Steel’s snap decision: Goyer and Snyder were for it; Nolan wasn’t — SPOILERS

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Kremlinologists, this interview at Empire mag with David S. Goyer and Zack Snyder apparently does for MAN OF STEEL what Glenn Greenwald does for our privacy. If you don’t want to listen to the whole thing, ComicBook.Com has some quotes that reveal just why Superman did what he did at the end of MAN OF STEEL:

“Killing Zod was a big thing and Chris Nolan, originally, said there’s no way you can do this,” Goyer told the magazine. “That was a change–originally Zod got sucked into the Phantom Zone along with the others and I just felt it was unsatisfying and so did Zack. We started questioning–we talked to some of the people at DC Comics and said, ‘Do you think there is ever a way that Superman would kill someone?’ And at first they said ‘No way, no way,’ and we said, ‘but what if he didn’t have a choice?’ Originally Chris didn’t even want to let us try to write it and Zack and I said, ‘We think we can figure out a way that you’ll buy it.’”

So there! It wasn’t even gloomy old Chris Nolan’s idea!

Now, as you may have heard, this is not the first time Superman has killed nor even the first time he’s killed General Zod. In Superman II, the basis for the current film, one version showed Superman dropping Zod and pals into a black hole. (The original Richard Donner version showed them being led off in handcuffs by the police.) Neither of those endings would have worked in MAN OF STEEL–just toppling, ala a Disney villain, would not have killed these tough Kryptonians, who could be thrown THROUGH a building unscathed, and it was already established that handcuffs meant nothing for Superman.

In the comics, John Byrne had Superman kill a “pocket” Zod, and Roger Stern had him kill Doomsday—who had already killed Superman, so turnabout, etc.

FWIW, I sort of agree with Snyder and Goyer that the MoS black hole sucking Zod was less dramatically satisfying. The up close and personal death that this Superman gives Zod is far more shocking than any toppling or punching, though.

There’s much more about the movie in the podcast, including of course future films and Easter eggs:

“Actually I didn’t know about the Wayne Enterprises thing. The LexCorp [logos were] in the script but the Wayne one… I was like, ‘Oh that’s cool.’ But Zack [Snyder] and I are big fanboys in that regard in the way that Chris [Nolan] isn’t. I mean we can cite certain covers or artists or things like that, [but] Chris just isn’t into that.

“This is just, sort of, y’know, ground zero for (no pun intended) a greater DC universe. This is a shared universe so we’re saying yes, Lex Luthor exists in this world, Bruce Wayne exists in this world. We mentioned S.T.A.R. Labs and so the intention is, if the film is well received, that this would be the starting point for introducing other characters and ultimately, obviously Warner Brothers hopes there will be a Justice League film and perhaps you might start seeing other characters appearing in each other’s films. I think in some ways they’re interested in going perhaps the opposite direction that Marvel has done which may be to do a group film and then spin off.”

 

While the lowly comics will doubtless have little to do with any future Superman movies, there was some consternation yesterday when that Superman/Wonder Woman book by Charles Soule and Tony Daniel was announced:

So in the brilliant marketing synergy that is DC Comics, today they announced a new Superman book. Oh wait, make that Superman/Wonder Woman. Hitting in October and exploring the “budding relationship” according to IGN. SYNERGY!NOT! Wonder Woman, the most iconic female superhero in comics, finally has a second book for the first time in 61 years and it’s second billing to her boyfriend and in a book where she’s making out with him on the cover.

Well, first off DC has had books called Superman/Batman and Batman/Superman, so billing is a bit variable. The art accompanying the release showed the super duo smooching, which does not involve ass-kicking and a romance book starring Superman and Wonder Woman does seem like a strange move but…

I dunno. It is not hard to get baffled and then enraged over how DC has treated various heroines over the years, and the continued Ongoing Dread of Wonder Woman (ODoWW) could be and surely has been the topic of entire theses. But this time out, it seemed like a total no win for DC. Imagine if, say, Gail Simone had announced she was writing a romance book starring Superman and Wonder Woman. Would that have been a win? At least Diana’s getting a second book and it’s starring her and the suddenly-top hero at DC. It could be worse. Honest it could.

One way or another, Wonder Woman is going to have to appear in that JLA movie. Chances of her being handled in a way that everyone finds acceptable are about the same as Edward Snowden getting a job in IT at the Pentagon. Let’s save the outrage for the steps on the way to that and not two lines at IGN and a crappy cover.

BUT BTW THE WAY, for real Gail Simone IS working on a secret project that involve Lois Lane, As she recently tweeted:

“The most surprising thing about writing Superman was the richness of the cast. The most WONDERFUL thing was writing Clark/Lois.
“Fortunately, I get to write SOME Superman in SECRET PROJECT.
“Oh, well, that’s enough Superman daydreaming for right now. (Goes back to writing Lois Lane scene for SECRET PROJECT).”

 

Comments

  1. Cory!! Strode says:

    Not to open a very old can of worms, but Byrne was wrong when he had Superman do it in the comic, especially when it was his last issue and he left others to clean up the mess.

  2. didn’t see the movie but reminds me of when Miracleman kills Kid Miracleman/ Johnny Bates

  3. jaroslav hasek says:

    cant wait for superman to start wearing ammo belts and carrying around enormous machine guns. then i MIGHT actually watch one of his movies.

  4. I had a real problem with it, It just seemed to radical an idea to drop into what is the first of a possible new series. It’s the antithesis of what Superman is and even though yeah the way they filmed it he didn’t have a choice that doesn’t really justify it.
    We’re told that he is supposed to inspire hope but he doesn’t conduct himself in any better way, And all through the film he restrains his violent impulses as that was tether the Kent upbringing gave him only for him to kill someone one his own level in the end well it for me it missed the point entirely.
    And I can imagine why Nolan disagreed when he stuck to the Batman/No Guns rule.

  5. Synsidar says:

    The TV Tropes Web site covers Superman’s principled refusal to kill pretty thoroughly. As far as Doomsday is concerned, “killing” him doesn’t actually end his life:

    Doomsday was later rescued by Brainiac, keeps coming back after being killed, and heals all other injuries instantly, so breaking his neck has the same effect as knocking a regular villain out, which, in combination with being more than Superman can handle upfront, is the reason why he can be the exception.

    I don’t think that having Superman act realistically is a good explanation for having him kill, because he’s not written as a person. The situations he’s in aren’t realistic, the foes he fights aren’t realistic, his abilities aren’t realistic. If the reasoning behind having him kill is that Superman is going to be realistic about things, there should be a boatload of consequences as to how the character is handled from that point onward. If the justification for killing any given super villain is “Let the punishment fit the crime,” then most super villains could or should be killed on the field of battle. There’s no need for a trial.

    I don’t enjoy reading stories about symbols because once you know what someone stands for, you know what he’s doing to do in any given situation. It’s not as though he’s going to stop embodying truth and justice and stand for something else. But Superman has no value if his principles can be sacrificed for the sake of momentary shock.

    SRS

  6. I’ve mentioned this elsewhere. but I kinda assumed the reasoning behind the “controversial ending” – my complaint was that it just wasn’t well done from a purely storytelling approach. While watching it I was thinking, “Well, this could have been done better.”

  7. I disagree with all of these complaints. First, Superman — in the golden age — killed several of his opponents or allowed them to die with little remorse shown. The “Superman never kills” dictate seems clearly tied to the dilution of the medium following the Wertham nonsense. So far as the story goes, it happens in the film that is believable, and not as suddenly as keeps being suggested. More importantly, however, is the grief and remorse that is shown immediately following his action. It becomes clear that this a defining event for the character, and can easily be used as the foundation of the “never take a life” moral stance. This, to me, is more plausible than simply being raised as a good ol’boy Kansan who was instilled with proper values that he never questions. Overall, this was an interpretation of the character that isn’t w/o precedence in the books themselves, and one that has some weight to it. Love the character — been reading his adventures for decades — and did not find this as objectionable as some want to make it out to be. There’s no indication that we’ll see this sort of action on Superman’s part again; in fact, it easily becomes the exception that proves the rule. Well done to Snyder and Goyer for opening up new avenues of character development for the Man of Steel, none of which necessarily or logical entail a similar act in the future.

  8. If this was a good story, a well built up plot that held together as a moving sequence of experiences, and it demanded that out of character ending, then that might have been more understandable. But from how Goyer and Snyder are talking about it, they clearly don’t know how to tell a good story or what makes a good movie from a plot/story aspect. They are so shallow about that, that the only thing they could do, that would be comparable to incredible visual dimension of the film, is to shock everyone by having Superman kill Zod, within a story framework that’s made the audience go “huh? where’d that come from?” I don’t think this is about whether Superman could be put into a position to kill. It seems more about a screenwriter whose career has been built on shock value but lacking good storytelling ability.

  9. For me, Superman’s decision to kill Zod pales in comparison to his decision to commit genocide. When Zod pleads with Superman, pointing out that the birthing chamber on the Kryptonian scoutship was the last chance to save Krypton, rather than use the birthing chamber as leverage to force Zod to land the ship and behave, Superman hastily decides that “Krypton had its chance” and destroys the ship and any chance to revive Krypton’s culture and people.
    Zod’s villainy stems from his ambition to save one culture at the complete expense of another, yet Superman does the very same thing.

  10. nWoJeffDW says:

    Superman beating the crap out of Zod then tossing him into the phantom zone would have been completely satisfying.

    Superman does not kill — he always finds another way. In this one, he could have just flown away while holding Zod to get him away from the people, or better yet, take the fight away from a densely populated city.

  11. JC LEBOURDAIS says:

    I agree with Mr Netzer, this is just bad writing in this case.
    And to address the real philosophical question, there is a difference between good and evil. Killing is bad, full stop.
    That explanation makes no sense. For someone to decide not to kill, they would have to do it once first? How about stealing? how about rape?
    That makes billions of potential murderers out there in the world that are actually good people waiting to get their hands one someone else so they can then decide if they are good people or not? Seriously? Obviously no christians there.

  12. After killing Zod and then falling to his knees to be comforted by Lois, it would have been far more effective if Lois led Superman outside to see the utter devastation and loss of life his battle with Zod caused.

    That could have been Superman’s awakening moment for him to see the effects of his power and the need for much more responsibility in using it.

  13. Michael P says:

    Well, it’s nice to know Nolan’s got a clue, at least.

  14. I dunno if killing Doomsday counts. He’s not really sentient.

  15. Roberto Briceno says:

    No surprise regarding Goyer. Hell, he wrote ACTION COMICS #900 with Superman giving up his U.S citizenship.

  16. Whatever says:

    I am no DC fan and knew killing Zod was coming so I had no visceral reaction but I really did not see it has a huge deal. Superman does not gleefully kill him or take any pride in the action, it’s not your typical Vin Disel killing or something. The Kryptonians were also eugenics monsters, wasn’t Zod more or less really the Eradicator? He was genetically engineered to be who he was and nothing could change that? Isn’t that kind of the point of Kal-El in this film? That he is not a predetermined clone? I am not saying it’s genius or even good but it certainly a little different from say killing the Joker.

  17. This was a science fiction movie. In a typical sci-fi movie, the hero kills the bad guy. Happned inThe Terminator, Wrath of Khan, Return of the Jedi, etc.

    The difference is that this is Superman. There were some real problems in justifying this action, which Chris Sims layed out very well in ComicsAlliance a few days ago. People compare this to Superman II, but in that movie, we never saw the bad guys die. Superman didn’t snap their necks on screen. No director back then would have done that…because that’s not a depiction of what super-heroes do.

    During the big battle, I did think to myself at one point: “I bet he wishes he had some super-cellophane right about now.”

    But this is about what I’ve come to expect that from DC Entertainment nowadays. As we say in Texas, they are all hat and no cattle.

  18. Charles Knight says:

    To me it’s always a cop-out when dealing with a character like Superman and setting up situations where “he had choice” – no, the writer didn’t want him to have a choice.

  19. ‘but what if he didn’t have a choice?’

    When Superman doesn’t have a choice, he creates one. If he’s not the standard then there isn’t one. Byrne had him kill but he also had him appear in a porno, so there’s always that for the next film. But only if he’s broke, needs the money and has no choice.

  20. Boner says:

    Liked the movie with some notable exceptions. No responsible father would suggest letting the bus load of kids drown – that was just SHITTY writing, especially for a Superman movie.

    All of the metal tentacles/particles, science fiction stuff is sooooooo damn cliche. Guys, you are referencing the lesser Matrix movies when you do this, so lets come up with some new ideas.

    My gawd, Snyder likes to blow shit up – add more humor if you are going to do this for some levity. Movie was so damn dark and apocalyptic.

    Cavill was great as Superman.

  21. Charles says:

    “When Superman doesn’t have a choice, he creates one. ”

    I’ve heard this being said a lot at the moment and to me it sounds really circuitous. I suppose some people really do go in for that whole Space Dad/Messiah thing.

  22. Space Deadbeat Dad was Superman Returns.

  23. Molnek says:

    Shouldn’t we have been expecting the whole messiah thing from this version of Superman given the references to it? What really annoyed me with the film was how bi-polar parts of it seemed. Superman cares about us so he’s going to turn himself over to Zod, then later destroys half of Metropolis. Superman doesn’t rescue his father because people aren’t ready to know about him, then continues to rescue strangers all over the place leaving a trail for Lois Lane to follow.
    Part of me thinks they just threw in killing Zod to distract everyone from how stupid Zod’s plan was where he wants to terraform a planet that gives him super powers so that it won’t give him super powers.

  24. Shawn Hill says:

    It would have made MORE sense to have Zod sucked in by the singularity … there was no reason that didn’t happen except to add one more ending to a film that already had too many.

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