[Warning: This post will contain Man of Steel spoilers]
Those who've been following the Man of Steel conversation online are probably already familiar with some of the ongoing debates surrounding the film's controversial ending. If you're not, then the gist of it is that folks are divided on the changes the film makes to the Superman character, in that he not only allows massive destruction to take place in Metropolis (while thousands of people perish), but he also kills General Zod, which goes against everything Superman stands for... well, up until this point, at least. And for those counting, that's been a long time.
This isn't the first time Superman has ever killed anyone (Jeff Taylor talks about the controversy that cropped up last time it happened in the comics at the end of his Easter eggs post), but now both director Zack Snyder and writer David S. Goyer have weighed in on why they decided to make the decisions they did.
First, in a podcast for Empire, the duo admit that they went back and forth on whether or not Superman should kill Zod since, originally, the villain was going to get "zapped" into the Phantom Zone. “But 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," Snyder said. "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.”
Goyer adds that the hold out was actually Nolan, who was against it. "[Chris] originally said, 'There's no way you can do this,' Goyer said. "I came up with this idea of heat vision and these people about to die, and I wrote the scene, gave it to Chris, and he said, 'Okay you've convinced me.'”
So that's how they're justifying the whole Superman killing Zod thing, which some fans will agree with while others won't. There are arguments to be made on both sides, from those loyal to the character since his inception and others who'd like to see things changed up a bit for this new version.
Regarding the mass destruction that takes place in Metropolis and why Superman allowed it to happen, Goyer told Bleeding Cool the following:
"When you’re dealing with a threat like this, there will be collateral damage. This is something that hadn’t been depicted in comic book films is what it would be like if these powerful figures did clash, if the Hulk and Thor fought, people would probably die. Particularly in this case where Zod and the Kryptonians really don’t care if people die. I think people died and I’m sure that upsets some people.
We knew that people would be upset by some of the choices we make. We got some grief when we did Batman Begins. Now people think what we did was great but when Batman Begins first came out, people were upset by some of the choices we made.
Some people have said a hero is only as good as a villain and I would extend that corollary to say a hero is only as good as his love interest. One of the things we were attempting with this was to depict a “realistic” Superman, do what we did in the Batman films which was to ask, “What if they existed in our world?”
It was definitely a risky move, but one that clearly suggests the tone of these DC movies will be very different from the Marvel ones. In The Avengers, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America did fight, but Joss Whedon put that fight in the middle of the woods to avoid a situation like this. On one hand you have to respect that Goyer and Snyder are willing to take these sorts of risks with Superman in order to make him a more flawed character, and one who maybe needs to redeem himself throughout the course of a new series of films.
That's something I'm personally interested in seeing versus more of the same. While I understand many hold these comic characters up on a pedestal and that any subtle change to their story or personality traits may create problems, good, memorable art takes risks. And if these new Superman movies are going to make their mark on history and at the same time help launch a completely new universe of superhero movies, then they're going to have to take some risks. They're going to have to be memorable.
Man of Steel succeeds in that regard, and I for one cannot wait to see how they continue this story. What about you?