The search is on for an actor to play the adversary opposite Henry Cavill's Kal-El in director Zack Snyder's Superman: Man of Steel. Yesterday brought the news that Edgar Ramirez could be in contention for the part and now there's word that Oscar-nominee Michael Shannon is being considered as well.
Snyder recently shot down the rumor that Viggo Mortensen will portray General Zod in the Superman reboot - though the filmmaker refrained from outright denying that the criminal Kryptonian would be featured in the movie. While Snyder also dismissed the Zod rumors as false last fall, he too avoided flat-out denying the character's appearance.
Deadline is the source of this rumor about Shannon, who's long been known as an excellent character actor who has worked largely in independent fare, but has appeared in numerous mainstream movies as well. Shannon earned an Oscar nod for his role in Revolutionary Road and has recently been garnering additional accolades for his work on HBO's Boardwalk Empire. He also appeared in Jonah Hex last year, but then again, nobody's perfect.
Shannon is an interesting prospect to play a Superman villain, as he has neither a background in action like Ramirez and Mortensen, nor a reputation for portraying intimidating characters onscreen, like Daniel Day-Lewis.
That's not to say he wouldn't be able to pull off Zod, but Shannon seems more fit to follow in the footsteps of two other great character actors (Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey) and play a mind-over-matter antagonist like Lex Luthor - though we know a lot of fans aren't crazy about the idea of Luthor being brought back again in Man of Steel.
Promoting today's release of Sucker Punch over the last few weeks has provided Snyder with opportunities to talk more about his approach to the Superman mythology. He's already referring to Man of Steel as his most "realistic" film yet in terms of visual style and has called out the cinematic incarnation of the character as being "broken" in its current state.
Bryan Singer tried to give the costumed hero a makeover while paying homage to previous Superman movies with Superman Returns back in 2006, but the final product was neither the critical or financial hit that Warner Bros. wanted. Snyder is applying a different tact by making Man of Steel a true reboot that still respects the classic canon of the superhero. The question at this point is whether or not that approach will work, especially if Snyder is going to revisit the villain pool from previous Superman films.
While I'm personally interested in learning more concrete information about the project, the task of modernizing Superman, while still remaining true to his character's traditional values, seems feasible to me. I quite liked Alan Moore's complex portrayal of the superhero in stories like "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorow?" and "For the Man Who Has Everything...", so I know it can be done.
Can Snyder pull off a similar move with Superman: Man of Steel? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section below.