The June issue of Empire Magazine is out this Thursday, April 25th, and contains a substantial feature on Man of Steel (check out the excellent cover images). To tease some of the content that will be available, Empire Online has been posting snippets from the interviews in the feature, including Michael Shannon discussing his take on General Zod, and director Zack Snyder talking about creating a small-town superhero and whether or not he's planning a sequel to Man of Steel.
In previous interviews, Shannon has expounded his belief that Zod isn't a villain in the traditional sense of the word, instead emphasizing the fact that he is a military man who is carrying out his duties in the way he feels is necessary for the protection of his people.
When asked by Empire to compare his own interpretation of the character with that of Terence Stamp in Richard Donner's 1978 movie, Superman (along with Superman II), Shannon reiterates his earlier statements about making the character more ambiguous:
"Nothing we do in this film will make people forget Terence Stamp, but that wasn't really what we were going for. As much as I love what Terence Stamp did in that movie, it was kind of opaque. It was impossible to have any empathy with him. It was pure malice. We wanted to break down that wall a little bit, so the audience might think, 'Yeah, I know what he's going through.' It's not better or worse, it's just different.
"The key for me is his name's not Villain Zod, or Monster Zod, it's General Zod... he takes [his job] seriously. I'm not saying he's a nice guy, Mr. Green Jeans, but he doesn't exist just to be mean and give Superman a hard time."
It will be good to see a comic book villain given a slightly more complex and sympathetic portrayal - though it's a tricky thing for an actor to pull off when they find themselves in the designated antagonist role. Probably one of the better examples from recent memory is Tom Hiddleston in Thor and The Avengers, whose dilemma of being caught between two worlds will potentially allow for his character to be redeemed in Thor: The Dark World. Having said that, it's difficult to sympathize with Zod when he's sending us incredibly creepy glitched-out demands for the return of Kal-El.
Since Man of Steel is an origin story, a certain portion of the plot will inevitably be spent in the very literally-named town of Smallville. But despite the humble nature of Clark Kent's home, it will nonetheless play host to the first major conflict of the movie, also very literally named "The Battle of Smallville." The location used to stage the Smallville scenes was Plano, Illinois - a small city outside of Aurora. According to Snyder, the mayor of the town even gets a cameo in the movie, perhaps to make up for the heavy fictional destruction that will be inflicted upon it:
"It's a Western face-off. [Zod and Faora and the rest of the Kryptonian invasion] care very little for Smallville's iconographic status. We're being really hard on the town: this battle needed to be dangerous."
He might be enthusiastic about staging the fight, but Snyder was comparably coy when asked to talk about the possibility of a sequel to Man of Steel, which, if the rumors are to be believed, is already in development at Warner Bros. with David S. Goyer returning to write the screenplay. Considering the fact that Man of Steel needs to earn enough at the box office to cover its $200 million production budget, plus the additional cost of marketing, before it becomes profitable, it's doubtful that a sequel will be officially confirmed until the numbers are in. From the way that Snyder describes Man of Steel, it sounds like he made it a stand-alone story with sequel potential.
"We didn't design the movie like Batman [i.e. as a trilogy] but I don't think anybody would say you design a Superman movie as a one-off."
If you can't wait until Man of Steel's release to find out what the future holds for Superman, check out our trailer breakdown for a closer look at what's been revealed about the plot and characters so far, as well as the rumors concerning the introduction another Superman foe - who might well take centre stage if the movie gets a sequel.
Man of Steel is out in theaters on June 14th, 2013.