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David S. Goyer Discusses 'Man of Steel's' Controversial Ending

The movie's writer shares his expanded thoughts on the polarizing moment and what it means for Superman.

*Obviously contains Man of Steel spoilers*

Man of Steel's conclusion with General Zod has been the subject of a lot of heated debate (and that's putting it lightly). Since the film's release, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer have all spoken about the shocking moment, but now writer David S. Goyer is giving even more information on the scene. Speaking at the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters' Lecture, Goyer shared his thoughts on the no kill rule and why he believes Kal had to take Zod's life.

"We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial. It's not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren't just doing it to be cool. We felt, in the case of Zod, we wanted to put the character in an impossible situation and make an impossible choice.

This is one area, and I've written comic books as well and this is where I disagree with some of my fellow comic book writers - 'Superman doesn't kill'. It's a rule that exists outside of the narrative and I just don't believe in rules like that. I believe when you're writing film or television, you can't rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film.

So the situation was, Zod says 'I'm not going to stop until you kill me or I kill you.' The reality is no prison on the planet could hold him and in our film Superman can't fly to the moon, and we didn't want to come up with that crutch.

Additionally, Goyer states the action will indeed have a lasting impact on Clark.

"Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he's not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he's Superman and because people idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard."

In case you're wondering, the Man of Steel blu-ray/DVD will come out November 12th.

Source: Digital Spy

242 Comments
Posted by Smart_Dork_Dude

@darthshap: My point is this. Superman has killed in the comic. Yes, MODERN Superman avoids killing at all costs, but the fact of the matter is that you cannot ignore a character's origin either. He started killing in the Golden Age. Yeah, he got away from that, but the fact of the matter is he did it and it was people who deserved it like Zod. It was murderers and yes even NAZI'S!

I'm not saying he should be like The Punisher, killing all who break the law, that's too far. I'm saying that it doesn't matter if he kills in a movie or not. You know why? Because it's in the same vein as his Golden Age interpretations. They had him leaping and such in the beginning of the film when he was learning to fly, a Golden Age trait. The S-shield is very similar to Golden Age Superman's. Really it felt like a blending of Golden Age and Modern Superman to me.

Posted by Lvenger

@smart_dork_dude: Golden Age Superman was a TOTALLY different character to modern Superman. For a guy who doesn't like New 52 Superman, you sure do contradict yourself as GA Superman makes New 52 Superman look like a boy scout in comparison. Finally, the Pocket universe criminals was a case of horrible writing. Superman kills the criminals despite having depowered them with gold kryptonite and could just imprison them via normal means. But no he flat out murders them, contradicting the majority of portrayals since Whitney Ellsworth issued new instructions to ban Superman from killing in the comics and starting the development of his more ethically sound moral compass. If Goyer thought Superman needed to kill to get his no kill code that betrays a lack of understanding of the character IMO.

Posted by Lvenger

@lvenger said:

Damn it Goyer, why'd you have to raise this topic back from the grave? No matter how you justify it, Superman never takes a life under any circumstances. You betray that and you betray his very morality and the ethical compass that makes him human. If Goyer thought Superman needed that for Superman to have his no kill rule, that betrays a lack of understanding behind Superman's character.

YOU ARE A IDIOT!

HE KILLED ZOD IN THE COMICS

HE KILLED DOOMSDAY IN THE COMICS

HE DEPOWERED ZOD WHERE HE WAS NO LONGER A THREAT, CRUSHED HIS HAND AND THREW HIM IN TO ICY WATERS TO HIS DEATH IN SUPERMAN 2 AND SMILED ABOUT IT!

I've flagged this post and all the others posts like this as this is not the way to address someone on here. Learn the code of conduct and don't make angry posts on here because you're breaking site rules with the swearing and angry insults.

@deranged_midget @god_spawn @sc Would one of you guys mind having a word with this guy? He's made several posts like these already on this article.

Posted by Weave16
Posted by TheThe

I understand where he comes from, but having a murderer for hero is not a good ethical move. Also, we've never really seen the impact of this on Superman(neither on the rest of protagonists). Something was clearly missing.

Posted by AllStarSuperman

@fallschirmjager:

@mitran said:

I for one am okay with this reasoning. It's better than any other official reasoning I've heard.

I actually thought this right after watching the movie. it now makes him never kill again. its not some "SUPERMAN GREW A PAIR AND WILL KILL NOW!" that idea in it self is stupid. Batman let Ras al ghul die and he threw Harvey dent off a building. Captain America shot people. Hulk probably steps on people. Black Widow kills people. Hawkeye Kills people. I dot see a problem with superman having to take the life of the most dangerous man ever.

Posted by w0nd

@thethe said:

I understand where he comes from, but having a murderer for hero is not a good ethical move. Also, we've never really seen the impact of this on Superman(neither on the rest of protagonists). Something was clearly missing.

In that case cops and soldiers who have had to take a life are not heroes. and then the argument could be made "but they aren't superman" Well he didn't intend to be superman at that point either, he was just a guy who got caught up in the mix of things.

Posted by Smart_Dork_Dude

@lvenger: I dislike New 52 Supes because he's not what a Modern Superman should be. He just doesn't feel like Superman. He feels like someone's interpretation of what Superman SHOULD be, instead of what he is.

Currently Earth 2 Superman is Kal-L. The Superman of the Golden Age. However he acts like Kal-El the Modern Superman. They got them all screwed up really.

Kal-L is one of my favorite versions of Superman because there's just something about a Superman that breaks into criminals homes and forcing them to confess what they did, beating up wife-beaters, etc, that I love. That's why I LOVE Morrison's first arc on Action Comics, it brought Superman back to that era of him being a social crusader. However, it does come at a cost as Kal-L loses his identity as that kind of Superman.

I always saw the two like this. Kal-L is the vigilante Superman, he takes a major stand against crime in Metropolis and only in later stories did he broaden his scope and began to be a protector of Earth at large. Kal-El on the other hand always protected Earth at large and simply lives in Metropolis. He fights crime in Metropolis like bank robberies or muggings if he comes across them, and of course the occasional supervillain, but he's different than Kal-L who actively sought these things out.

Kal-El should be the Superman that's very much a fireman, a rescuer, someone to look to in a crisis. Kal-L should be looked to as a policeman, someone who's main goal is to make sure the guilty are punished.

The New 52 Kal-El feels like a poorly done amalgam of these two Supermen.

Posted by ccraft

I think Supes killing Zod was justified, I think it would have been a lame ending if Zod was sent back to the Phantom Zone... This ending will at least leave an emotional mark on the MoS Supes.

Posted by Lvenger

@smart_dork_dude: New 52 Superman is still a more accurate representation of what a modern Superman should be than what Goyer thinks a modern Superman is for me.

Posted by ThomasElliot

I'm pretty sure the Avengers were slaughtering dozens of Chitauri.

Oh wait... I see.. .because they didn't look like humans and were CGI 'toys', that made it ok.

And as long as Loki was put in jail, that makes up for the hundreds of murdered xeno-aliens.

No... don't tell me it was 'war' and the Avengers had no choice, because apparently that kind of grey-area distinction is not allowed to be applied to Superman at all ever.

So... a single 'murder' VS a mass slaughter and some of you can be ok with one and not the other? Some of you need to get off the internet already with your self-righteous and self-serving pointless non-arguments.

Posted by TheAcidSkull

there was no other way. etc etc.

Edited by SlickyMike88

Supes should killed Zod a long time ago , before millions die:P. Well he protected that one family at the end. Decides to snap Zod then, not before the millions that die:P

Posted by ccraft

Just get over it people

"Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he's not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he's Superman and because people idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard." -David Groyer

Edited by Outside_85

Hmm this is becoming an example of how comicbook readers can't leave the comic at home when going to watch a movie.

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Edited by AllStarSuperman

@smart_dork_dude:

This is just silly. Everything has happened in comics. There is even a comic book where SuperBOY has to rape some poor girl in order to become SuperMAN. That does not make it good.

really?

Posted by Superguy0009e

@g_man said:

So basically they sorta wrote themselves into a corner? There was no other way to deal with Zod in the movie?

And it's okay it happened because he technically wasn't Superman yet?

How about, no.

Those that want to tell me I'm wrong, please, don't bother. I've heard it all already. Also, read the incredible book I keep going on and on about:

Posted by w0nd
@lvenger said:

@smart_dork_dude: New 52 Superman is still a more accurate representation of what a modern Superman should be than what Goyer thinks a modern Superman is for me.

the one who taunted cops and acted like a jerk? The same one who knocked batman the eff out and threatened him because he ASSUMED he was working with one of darkseids men. Punch first ask questions later? The one everyone referes to as "he's kind of a d*&k" as a running gag

he intended to kill her, even though she was possessed and not an actual tyrant like zod. He just got lucky and she didn't die.

Edited by The_MVPs

I never understood why people were so upset that Superman killed Zod. At one time, pre-52, he killed all three Kryptonian terrorists and their ghosts haunted him.

Moderator
Edited by Smart_Dork_Dude

@lvenger: I think you need to keep in mind that it was just one movie. Honestly I didn't care for Bale's Batman that much in Batman Begins, despite how much I liked the way Nolan shaped the mythology behind it.

First of all, this is an adaptation. Adaptations are under no obligations to be set in stone, straight up copies of the source material. Otherwise, what's the point? It's like that shot-for-shot remake of Psycho. There's nothing different or changed, with the exception of different actors and it being in color.

Posted by ccraft

I'm pretty sure the Avengers were slaughtering dozens of Chitauri.

Oh wait... I see.. .because they didn't look like humans and were CGI 'toys', that made it ok.

And as long as Loki was put in jail, that makes up for the hundreds of murdered xeno-aliens.

No... don't tell me it was 'war' and the Avengers had no choice, because apparently that kind of grey-area distinction is not allowed to be applied to Superman at all ever.

So... a single 'murder' VS a mass slaughter and some of you can be ok with one and not the other? Some of you need to get off the internet already with your self-righteous and self-serving pointless non-arguments.

yeah, maybe if they were more human like comic fans would be in an uproar.

Edited by Lvenger

@w0nd: He then said that he didn't want to kill her and was going to find another way when the alien possessing her faked her death. Aside from the stupid writing by John, Lobdell and Perez, Superman is still acting mostly better than he did in the entire MOS film. Those acts aren't as bad as screwing up a guy's car for being a jerk at a bar or for knocking a spy satellite out of the sky that was following him. Superman being a jerk is much more closely linked with MOS Superman than New 52 Superman.

Posted by Outside_85

@gambler: People are upset that their idea of Superman doesn't match what's being put onto the screen.

Heard some of the same happened when they were making or after the release of LotR, some people were hugely upset about the absence of Glorfindel, the Old Forest and Tom Bombadil from the first movie.

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Posted by Mulder15

MoS was a excellent movie. People need to unrustle their jimmies already. Batman kills no one cares. Iron Man kills no one cares. Cap kills no one cares. SUPERMAN KILLZ OMGZ THIZ MOVIE SUCKZ!

Posted by The_MVPs

@outside_85: Yeah and some of that is understandable, but its to be expected really. Movie adaptations almost always deviate from the source material in some fashion. However Superman has killed before (and probably will again), so I dont get the outrage. I was more disappointed he didnt save Pa Kent then anything else lol

Moderator
Posted by 2cool4fun

@lvenger said:

Damn it Goyer, why'd you have to raise this topic back from the grave? No matter how you justify it, Superman never takes a life under any circumstances. You betray that and you betray his very morality and the ethical compass that makes him human. If Goyer thought Superman needed that for Superman to have his no kill rule, that betrays a lack of understanding behind Superman's character.

Your one of the people i agree the most with, on this site. But i disagree here, superman and flash are the 2 biggest boyscouts in DC, they are goody to shoes. But unlike batman who does not kill cause of a psychological scar, or some other mental reason, they will do it if there is "no other choice", 1 bad guy < a planet of people, also, zod was killed by superman before as i recall flash even killed reverse flash, and besides, there is no way they can imprison zod, plus as he said, he is in the beginning of his carrier, he does not even know what to do him self, this is his first fight, and zod pushed him over the limit, the man of steel superman is more mature then the new 52 one was at the beginning of his carrier. But was still not mentally ready for that big of a fight.

Posted by SC

@movieartman said:

HE KILLED ZOD IN THE COMICS

HE KILLED DOOMSDAY IN THE COMICS

HE DEPOWERED ZOD WHERE HE WAS NO LONGER A THREAT, CRUSHED HIS HAND AND THREW HIM IN TO ICY WATERS TO HIS DEATH IN SUPERMAN 2 AND SMILED ABOUT IT!

Hello there movieartman, you really need to relax please. If you can not have a discussion or conversation with someone without referring to them as an idiot then you should not quote them or interact with them. Perhaps just share your opinion independently of their points okay? Absolutely no need for name calling and the capital letters are a bit much.

Feel free to disagree with people and offer arguments but in a relaxed and respectful manner okay.

Moderator
Edited by Immortal777

Alternate reality Superman deal with it.

@gambler said:

I never understood why people were so upset that Superman killed Zod. At one time, pre-52, he killed all three Kryptonian terrorists and their ghosts haunted him.

I don't know why people like to pretend this never happened.

Posted by Superbat420
Posted by BeppoTheSuperMonkey

The "Superman doesn't kill" rule is total bullshit. There's been a number of times which he has, reluctantly had to make that choice. It doesn't diminish his ability to be a hero, it goes with the territory of being the world's protector.

Posted by Vaeternus

I completely agree, I loved Goyer on Smallville, his books and this ending made perfect sense as far as I'm concerned. I love MOS and can watch it a million times!

Posted by Hawkguy

@movieartman: You're telling me Superman couldn't have moved zods head down or twisted their bodies in another direction? Or even leaped up? Right...

There's a difference between Batman letting nature do it's thing (gravity) as opposed to Superman snapping someone's neck.

Personally, at first I was kind of weirded out by it... but then I thought, the whole movie didn't really feel like a Superman movie. There was just something missing. The "he's kinda hot" bit was ridiculous too, it felt weird and out of place.

Edited by iceslick

@g_man: *sigh*, I went up in arms to let people understand how Superman killing Zod could be reasonable. But now, I no longer can because Goyer said this "We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he's Superman and because people idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard." So, does this mean Superman has to kill as higher standard for people to idolize him? I'm sorry but I thought the killing was to show him how human he is by making a mistake and feel remorse and regret afterwards. When I read the issues of Superman killing pocket Zod for research it showed that and that's what I really liked about it and I was hoping for them to show it in the next Superman movie. I just hope this doesn't turn into Superman or Batman killing their villains for the next couple of movies. I am really sorry Tony, for trying get you a better understanding of why it happened. I thought there was a better reason behind it. I still love the movie though.

Edited by detective38

This movie sucked horribly and killing zod was just the icing on the cake. Saying that they didnt have him kill zod to seem "cooler" is a load of crap they just wanted to show that their superman isnt the hokey boy scout of the golden age so they decided they would make him "cool" by taking a life. He couldve thrown him into the phantom zone if they wouldve incorporated that into the story but i guess that wasnt "cool"

Edited by Oscars94

@lvenger: If it was Braniac or Doomsday no one would be complaining. It's just because Zod looks human! It had to be done! Zod would've fried that family!

Posted by The Stegman

Not controversial to me, he did what was necessary.

Posted by RisingBean
@iceslick said:

@g_man: *sigh*, I went up in arms to let people understand how Superman killing Zod could be reasonable. But now, I no longer can because Goyer said this "We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he's Superman and because people idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard." So, does this mean Superman has to kill as higher standard for people to idolize him? I'm sorry but I thought the killing was to show him how human he is by making a mistake and feel remorse and regret afterwards. When I read the issues of Superman killing pocket Zod for research it showed that and that's what I really liked about it and I was hoping for them to show it in the next Superman movie. I just hope this doesn't turn into Superman or Batman killing their villains for the next couple of movies. I am really sorry Tony, for trying get you a better understanding of why it happened. I thought there was a better reason behind it. I still love the movie though.

What you thought originally is what Goyer implied. Superman has to hold himself to a higher standard so he can't do this. He needs to find a better way. MoS didn't allow him to come to this magically. He had to learn by experience.

Edited by turel_hash_ak_gik

@g_man: thank you, g-man. my exact thoughts. well except the book part. havent read it.

Posted by AllStarSuperman

This movie sucked horribly and killing zod was just the icing on the cake. Saying that they didnt have him kill zod to seem "cooler" is a load of crap they just wanted to show that their superman isnt the hokey boy scout of the golden age so they decided they would make him "cool" by taking a life. He couldve thrown him into the phantom zone if they wouldve incorporated that into the story but i guess that wasnt "cool"

? golden age superman murdered people willy nilly, Silver Age was a big boy scout.

Edited by Seathdroke

I think Goyer explains himself quite nicely here and I respect him for it. I notice most of the rebuttals are either rehashes of the same old arguments or they talk around exactly what he said.

The notion that "Superman does not kill cuz he just doesn't" is silly nonsensical, illogical claptrap. Why doesn't he? What moments caused him to feel this way? What experiences did he take into the battle with Zod that played into the decision? Stop relying on the ubiquitous narrative of the day to inform your story and your view. And none of this "cuz his Daddy told him not to and that's good enough." That's lazy. "He always finds a way." Well what if he can't? Don't reply by telling me how he could have. Answer THAT question. What. If. He. Can't?

Sure, they didn't have to write themselves into that situation, but why are we running from hard things?

Superman had become impossible to make into a movie because he's rarely ever been a character. He's a symbol and a set of unearned "values" in a void. There is NOTHING interesting about that. The Kents weren't people, they were two hollow, character-less voices telling Clark to love the little animals, wave to old people, and that hard decisions don't exist.

Posted by AllStarSuperman

Not controversial to me, he did what was necessary.

it should be this simple

Posted by Deranged Midget

The ending was so forced, why didn't he just cover zod's eyes with his hand? Feel like supes would definitely make that sacrifice. And he's not able to fly to the moon? that's bull. They could've flown to space, get too close to the sun or something and get caught in its gravitational pull, supes tries to save zod, and then zod doesn't let him or something. Or zod goes back to the phantom zone with everyone else somehow. The point is he didn't like having to follow the no kill rule and made a seen where he did just to say " I can do whatever I want "

Not really. Covering his face would've probably done more harm than good. For one, Clark's concentrated blasts knocked away and damaged Nam-Ek and Faora. Zod displayed no such restraint and his heat vision was far more destructive.

Secondly, they both gain their powers from the sun. Flying towards it would only push Zod's gain rather than aid Clark's attempts if we take the origins of their powers in perspective.

The entire point of leaving Zod behind was to put Clark in a position he's never been put in before and despite having all the power he possibly needs, he's ironically powerless to do anything to stop Zod who was both stronger and far better trained than himself. That was the purpose of the ending, not to show off a darker, grittier version of Superman despite what people pointlessly argue against.

Moderator
Posted by God_Spawn
Moderator
Posted by LenSnart

It's not really betraying the character when he's killed before, in a simmiliar situation with zod

Posted by Deranged Midget

@lvenger: Watch the terminology there mate.

Moderator
Posted by turel_hash_ak_gik

@fallschirmjager:

@mitran said:

I for one am okay with this reasoning. It's better than any other official reasoning I've heard.

I actually thought this right after watching the movie. it now makes him never kill again. its not some "SUPERMAN GREW A PAIR AND WILL KILL NOW!" that idea in it self is stupid. Batman (again does not kill or quit) let Ras al ghul die and he threw Harvey dent off a building. Captain America (he doesnt have a no kill code established) shot people. Hulk probably steps on people. Black Widow kills people (as she is known to do). Hawkeye (see cap) Kills people. I dot see a problem with superman having to take the life of the most dangerous man ever.

Posted by Outside_85

@gambler said:

@outside_85: Yeah and some of that is understandable, but its to be expected really. Movie adaptations almost always deviate from the source material in some fashion. However Superman has killed before (and probably will again), so I dont get the outrage. I was more disappointed he didnt save Pa Kent then anything else lol

It's funny, Superman kills Zod on screen and everyone goes ballistic. Yet we see him in Justice League killing Parademons and for some reason thats ok to most.

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