‘Man of Steel’ Ending Controversy & The ‘Superman II’ Hypocrisy

Published 1 year ago by , Updated April 8th, 2014 at 7:06 am,

Man of Steel Superman II Zod Death Superman Kills Man of Steel Ending Controversy & The Superman II Hypocrisy

[WARNING! THIS POST CONTAINS MAJOR MAN OF STEEL SPOILERS!!!]

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Look around the Internet these days and you’ll hear a buzz about the new Superman reboot movie Man of Steel, and aside from some pretty divisive opinion about whether the movie is good or not (read our review), one of the biggest topics of discussion is the climatic battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon), in which Superman is faced with the choice of watching Zod vaporize an innocent family or killing the ruthless general – ultimately (and controversially) choosing to do the latter.

There’s been vocal outrage on the part of some fans who feel betrayed by the notion of a  Superman who kills – but is the outrage legitimate?

In recent days we’ve heard from Man of Steel director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer, who revealed to Empire that in an original version of the script, Superman returns Zod to the Phantom Zone prison where he belongs – until Snyder convinced Goyer and producer/story writer Chris Nolan that Zod’s ending should be more permanent:

….David, Chris and I had long talks about it, and I said that I really feel like we should kill Zod, and that Superman should kill him. The ‘Why?’ of it for me was that if was truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained… I wanted to create a scenario where Superman, either he’s going to see [Metropolis' citizens] chopped in half, or he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.

dark superman by eliaskhasho d338bj9 Man of Steel Ending Controversy & The Superman II Hypocrisy

Collider and other sites have been critical of such reasoning – and even Mark Waid, writer of one of the comic books that influenced Man of Steel‘s story, stated on his blog Thrillbent that he was NOT happy with that moment of the film:

Superman wins by killing Zod. By snapping his neck. And as this moment was building, as Zod was out of control and Superman was (for the first time since the fishing boat 90 minutes ago) struggling to actually save innocent victims instead of casually catching them in mid-plummet, some crazy guy in front of us was muttering “Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…” and then Superman snapped Zod’s neck and that guy stood up and said in a very loud voice, “THAT’S IT, YOU LOST ME, I’M OUT,” and his girlfriend had to literally pull him back into his seat and keep him from walking out and that crazy guy was me. That crazy guy was me, and I barely even remember doing that, I had to be told afterward that I’d done that, that’s how caught up in betrayal I felt. And after the neck-snapping, even though I stuck it out, I didn’t give a damn about the rest of the movie.

To be fair, Waid does go on to give a more level-headed explanation, saying he thinks the film failed to establish Superman’s concern with ordinary people to with enough emphasis to “earn” that moment of snapping Zod’s neck, though he did acknowledge the character’s anguish in the aftermath (that now infamous scream). Superman’s lack of concern for collateral damage has been something MANY people have criticized Man of Steel for – so Waid (who knows the character pret-ty well) does have a point, perhaps.

…But I ask again: Does NOBODY remember Superman II?

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The Superman II Hypocrisy

general zod Man of Steel Ending Controversy & The Superman II Hypocrisy

Richard Donner’s sequel to Superman: The Movie told a darker tale that centered on Superman wanting giving up his powers in exchange for a normal life with Lois Lane – until evil Kryptonians General Zod, his lieutenant, Ursa, and brute enforcer Non all start using their newfound super powers to wreak havoc on Earth (sound familiar?). The movie ends with the now famous scene of Superman, Lois, Lex Luthor, Zod and his minions all having a Mexican standoff in the Fortress of Solitude. Superman craftily uses his de-powering chamber in reverse, restoring his own powers and stripping the bad guys of theirs. He then proceeds to murder General Zod!

If you’ve (somehow) never seen it, watch the climax of Superman II for yourself:

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Just so we’re clear: this movie has Superman and taking a man he knows to be weak as your average human, crushes his hand, and throws him into a bottomless pit. That’s not even mentioning Lois Lane also knocking a now-de-powered villain off a cliff. In short: Superman does and has killed the exact same guy on film before – so what’s all the controversy about?

In Man of Steel Supes is clearly tormented by his actions and needs Lois for comfort; in Superman IISupes and Lois smile through their double homicide and crack wise. Is the latter okay because it’s more of a fantasy world with a John Williams theme song playing when Superman does his dirty deed? Is Man of Steel‘s treatment of death and destruction more unpalatable than cheers for a re-powered Superman crushing a man’s hand and Lois Lane cracking one-liners before killing someone? I don’t get it.

What is there to split hairs about? Superman killed Zod in both films – so how does the notion of “Superman Does Not Kill” even hold water? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below – and/or vote in the poll:

[poll id="630"]

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Man of Steel is now in theaters.

Superman II has been around for thirty-three years. See it if you haven’t.

Sources:  Empire Magazine podcast (viaThe Playlist),  Thrillbent (via Cinema Blend), Collider

Dark Superman Image Courtesy of Eliaskhasho on DeviantArt

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TAGS: superman, superman man of steel

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  1. Lol, well I still expected that from him because he has nowhere else to go but more arguing. He kept going on with his intellect,i am sorry, if his intelligence isn’t strong enough to sway our opinions, he is virtually powerless. He Condemns people for accepting the killing of Zod of any evil Entities to maintain a character’s… character because he can’t & will not ever ever ever see him as a killer. Killing isn’t the issue, doimg what needs to be done despite his principles. He puts Superman on a pedestal, this why I love Batman more. Batman would have Kicked the pedestal to the ground.

    • lol I totally went on a Waldae like tirade their. Got on my pedestal about how he was a dink. He provided all the evidence for my argument and yours lol It’s just insane that this guy cant accept what is clearly laid out. We kind of had this same type of thing happening at the wonder woman outfit thread and much of people arguments are nonsense that google and applying common sense could easily dispel. So….1 I actually am watching Batman Returns right now..have heard guys saying batman doesn’t kill either…but google and zap ===>in Detective comics #27 (1st appearance of Bats) he knocks a dude into a giant tank of acid.

    • right there** lol i need to go to bed.

      random i know but have had similar talk with guys about batman and they still will find some way to say it doesn’t count… The thing is the philosophies of life are mucky and difficult in application, even for our heroes. WB/DC is giving us origin tale with MOS which we are supposed to take as Supes learning experience. He wasn’t even Superman really. He just discovered he was Kal-El of Krypton. These people don’t understand this. Everything is black and white(ideologically not racially lol) and to them they are the shining white knight meant to uphold the white ideals no matter how unrealistic in practice, no matter how dirty they themselves play to attempt to feel or look to others as though they are proving their point, ignoring facts and replacing them with colorful insults and hyperbole…by there standards they’ve done no wrong and once you call B.S. on them it’s like “you’re bloodthirsty, lad” remember that? I would have enjoyed intelligence going back and forth about the ideological implication of both Superman II and MOS anf the fact the Code was broken but I had to unsubscribe from this thread because of him. I will say this, at least Man of Steel’s framing is him as a rookie dealing with this horrible situation. Superman 2, yeah it’s as people have said, the to wrap uo the climax, he defeated Zod’s group and then (cue heroic fun family music) > he enjoyed hurting and knocking depowered/mortal/human people into a bottomless pit to never be heard from again(they’re f-ing dead) unless you have only seen the movie on your local non-cable tv on a saturday afternoon.

      The pedestal is there but they have to come down for food and water at some point to let us know they are still relatable otherwise they’re aren’t your heroes, they’re your Imaginary Gods of Perfect Ideals…funny thing is though they are neither, they are fictional characters that evolve with the times and that are interpreted by whatever artists of whatever medium interprets them. Nolan just totally “depowered” Batman for 3 whole movies, he got his ass kicked, wasn’t master detective or tactician, etc…where was my Übermensch then. NO worries for me cause it’s all fictional and i respect film makers doing Justice to their creation as long as it is “true” to the character in spirit. The fact Superman has killed before means, 1 there should be no controversy and this seemingly well thought out trauma of snapping Zod’s neck is not for shock value like the shallow examiners claim, and is actually meaningful to the character development that will probably bring him closer to the ideal..which keeps it VERY true to the character with the new inclusion of realistic reasoning on WHY he is like this. OK i’m done. been wanting to share that.
      ( it also gives finality on the Zod story line for Superman, which probably helped bring about what we are seeing happen as far as JL and all the castings. Which I am liking) Please tell me your not one of the detractors lol I normally agree with what you post, another guy around here i like is the shoveler, um supreme83, tony, a lot of guys around are here are trolls, not even purposely, just powered by natural stupidity, non acceptance of new info, and/or fear of the unknown. rant over. damn insomnia.

      • i was saying i like tony, the shoveler, you, supreme83 couple other guys that seem to be about good info and rational discussion….but a lot of the other guys that pop up screaming foul play are being ridiculous

    • right there** lol i need to go to bed.

      random i know but have had similar talk with guys about batman and they still will find some way to say it doesn’t count… The thing is the philosophies of life are mucky and difficult in application, even for our heroes. WB/DC is giving us origin tale with MOS which we are supposed to take as Supes learning experience. He wasn’t even Superman really. He just discovered he was Kal-El of Krypton. These people don’t understand this. Everything is black and white(ideologically not racially lol) and to them they are the shining white knight meant to uphold the white ideals no matter how unrealistic in practice, no matter how dirty they themselves play to attempt to feel or look to others as though they are proving their point, ignoring facts and replacing them with colorful insults and hyperbole…by there standards they’ve done no wrong and once you call B.S. on them it’s like “you’re bloodthirsty, lad” remember that? I would have enjoyed intelligence going back and forth about the ideological implication of both Superman II and MOS anf the fact the Code was broken but I had to unsubscribe from this thread because of him. I will say this, at least Man of Steel’s framing is him as a rookie dealing with this horrible situation. Superman 2, yeah it’s as people have said, the to wrap uo the climax, he defeated Zod’s group and then (cue heroic fun family music) > he enjoyed hurting and knocking depowered/mortal/human people into a bottomless pit to never be heard from again(they’re f-ing dead) unless you have only seen the movie on your local non-cable tv on a saturday afternoon.

      The pedestal is there but they have to come down for food and water at some point to let us know they are still relatable otherwise they’re aren’t your heroes, they’re your Imaginary Gods of Perfect Ideals…funny thing is though they are neither, they are fictional characters that evolve with the times and that are interpreted by whatever artists of whatever medium interprets them. Nolan just totally “depowered” Batman for 3 whole movies, he got his ass kicked, wasn’t master detective or tactician, etc…where was my Übermensch then. NO worries for me cause it’s all fictional and i respect film makers doing Justice to their creation as long as it is “true” to the character in spirit. The fact Superman has killed before means, 1 there should be no controversy and this seemingly well thought out trauma of snapping Zod’s neck is not for shock value like the shallow examiners claim, and is actually meaningful to the character development that will probably bring him closer to the ideal..which keeps it VERY true to the character with the new inclusion of realistic reasoning on WHY he is like this. OK i’m done. been wanting to share that.
      ( it also gives finality on the Zod story line for Superman, which probably helped bring about what we are seeing happen as far as JL and all the castings. Which I am liking) Please tell me your not one of the detractors lol I normally agree with what you post, another guy around here i like is the shoveler, um supreme83, tony, but a lot of guys around are here are trolls, not even purposely, just powered by natural stupidity, non acceptance of new info, and/or fear of the unknown. rant over. damn insomnia.

  2. Your point,

    Yeah, it was cleary a movie of a Superman in development. The outrage is shallow and unwarranted. What he would let him live & somehow imprisoned him (haha). Wouldn’t that be unnecessary torture of a being that no longer had a purpose. Not to mention he was going to kill every human on earth. It’s sad but a no brainer. I told one of my friends about this thread and the Superman II fabricated controversy. He knows WAY more on comic books than me. He said they died.

    How about this for debate: in the Killing Joke, at the end the Joker, told a joke that made Batman laugh. It shows Batman putting a hand on his shoulder and the images slowy fade to black. Did Batman kill him? Or did the Joker kill him? Or did they both live.

    • I’ve always believed it to be pretty obvious, imo, that he didn’t kill the joker. Hands seemed pretty clearly on the shoulder and Bats had just pleaded with him not long before to stop the madness and that he could get help. TJ pushed things far but for me that “death” always seemed more like a fan wish (that I liked the idea of).. but seemed to me a fan embellishment of open ended situation like many of the great media theories, ie ‘Saved by the Bell’ is All a Dream in Zack’s head, Same with Ferris Bueller being all in Cameron’s Head(even though that requires omitting details and making serious leaps), Gilligans Island is Hell, The Gilligan’s Island Drug Runner Theory lol. Joking :P . I think TKJ is left open ended on purpose but for me there were no indicators, I can recall, that Batman was going to break his neck other than theories. I’ll have to dig this one up for a re-read

  3. http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/6/69852/2292625-91931_v1.jpg

    oh, to stay true to our ideals…..

  4. Your point,

    Yeah, initially when i first read it, there was never a thought in my mind that he killed him. The Joker made him laugh, holy crap! That was my reaction. But it is called the killing joke, maybe this needs a re-read. I got to say it has to be on of my favorites. Before I really got reading comics, this was the one i read. It was addictive, i really enjoyed this one. Though i believe that TDKR won me over, yeah, a larger book but still. I can see the notion that he could have, but, who says it couldn’t have been the Joker doing the killing? I think aside from anarchy and the torment of others, wasn’t the Joker’s life ambition was making his favorite brooding hero to laugh? Goal achieved, so does he end him? It definitely a better argument than the Superman II argument. At least you don’t have to worry about hostility from me, i prefer these to be fun.

  5. Yes guys, life is better without him.

  6. I have a question. In Superman II Zod and his minions lost all their super abilities. So its understandable and acceptable that they would die (by falling or whatever).
    But in Man of Steel, Zod still has his super powers. How does snapping his neck kill him? Shouldn’t he just heal himself? I mean Superman has healed from fatal injuries before. So why not Zod?

  7. Pravin,

    They had led us to believe that Superman or Kryptonians cannot die because of the power of the sun on Earth. It is super power verses super power, I think that is what it boils down to. But who knows, maybe he isn’t dead. He looked pretty dead to me. That is the problem with immortal characters, they just leave much too predictably. They can’t die you easily assume that won’t beyond any circumstances.

  8. Maybe its better if zod’s end is permanent.

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