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Christopher Nolan Initially Disagreed With The Ending Of ‘Man Of Steel,’ ‘Superman: Birthright’ Writer Hates The Result

Christopher Nolan Initially Disagreed With The Ending Of 'Man Of Steel,' 'Superman: Birthright' Writer Hates The Result

If you haven’t already caught the biggest June box-office opening of all time, you’ve no doubt witnessed the division of critics’ opinions over Zack Snyder‘s Superman reboot, “Man of Steel.” As much as a sequel is secured, the film is certainly a mixed bag, as we discussed yesterday in our look at its strengths and weaknesses; but while one of the latter gripes focused on the ending — spoilers, naturally — during the climactic Metropolis fight between General Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman (Henry Cavill), now a few perspectives closer to the material have spoken up on the bold decision.

After their spoiler-filled podcast discussion on “Man of Steel,” Empire Magazine also devoted some time at the end to speak with Snyder and the film’s writer, David S. Goyer. They touched on the many tweaks to Superman’s origin story in the film, including the signature outfit and Clark’s foster parents, but it is clear from both that the decision to kill off Zod with a swift snap of the neck — therefore breaking Superman’s “No Killing” rule — did not come easily.

“In the original version of the script, Zod just got zapped into the Phantom Zone,” Snyder explains on the podcast, “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. 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 agreed with Snyder on the idea, but there remained one behind-the-scenes holdout, and not a lightweight one either: producer Christopher Nolan. “[Chris] originally said, ‘There’s no way you can do this.’ After checking in with DC Comics about the change, to which they responded positively, Goyer was spurred forward. “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.’ ”

While Goyer and Snyder may have won over Nolan in the end, comics writer Mark Waid (of “Superman: Birthright” fame) was in fact thoroughly enraged by the result. Waid wrote in his scathing review, "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.”

You can read the rest of Waid’s out-of-body experience over at Thrillbent (via Cinema Blend), and if you haven’t weighed in on the durability of an Earth-bound Krypton neck, let us know your thoughts below.

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Comments

Perry White

Nick,

Your response was better than anything Mark Waid has ever written. Well done, sir.

Joe

It also looks like Nolan will soon team with Thomas Tull and Legenary pictures and shoot his next movie for Universal Studios.

Joe

Since then, Chris Nolan has made it clear that he does not like this movie and said no more superhero movies for him.

J

It was just another popcorn action orgy like any other film you care to mention. The majority like it, intellectual people are disgusted with it, discerning people laugh at it.

My opinion? Hollywood garbage.

Isaiah

Despite the fact that Superman kills Zod at the end, I really enjoyed the movie. I was super surprised at the fact the Superman killed Zod, in the comics Superman kills Doomsday in order to protect the planet. I kinda feel that could have waited until the second movie, with Doomsday as the villian. All though I didn't really approve of Superman and Zod smashing through buildings, I feel this could help benefit the sequel to Man of Steel and or the Justice League movie. Lets be real, Superman can do anything, he's practically a god, oftenly I read through some of JLA comics and think why is Superman on this team. He's every superhero combined into one, everyone else are practically mortals. I feel this movie make Superman more vulnerable, the Justice League would be helpful in stopping attacks like the one in Man of Steel. Kinda like in the Avengers, you know Iron Man is the star of show, but the other characters have other roles to contribute aswell. I the next Superman film and Justice League film will great, I can't wait to see both of these movies in theaters!

Jessica

I hated the movie!! I was disgusted by Superman's lack of care for collateral damage or protecting life. I find the fact that Snyder can't understand that being raised by good people of strong moral values is enough to know that killing is wrong is sad and pathetic (on his part). Superman is all about strength being used to protect and defend NOT attack or punish. He is always holding back, he is always looking for a way around using his powers on others. IT ISN'T COMPLICATED!!!!

JimmyisaGirlNow

So I look it up it looks like they changed classic Jimmy Olsen superman's best friend into one Jenny Olsen in the new superman movie, anyone else notice that… mistake I hope, which is just wrong for his pal, with the camera young guy actor, to be replaced by a girl character never in superman was Jimmy, a girl character role……

SoSoSupersKillsLexLuthor

yep Superman kill lex luthor in next move, maybe easy plot since of man of steel, I can just hear little kids asking why the man no longer movies, and his eyes are still etc from zod, if I saw superman do this when I was little I woundn't of wanted to watch all 4 of the real superman movies before, or superman returns, maybe it works in a comic but not a real movie, little kids watch because superman can do no wrong right? since he saves people but not in man of steel , he just lets them die as it seemed in this movie he did in the city, and of course the problem with clark kent not using his glasses till the end of the movie, and you know who now knows who superman and clark kent is of course which doesn't really work, unless superman makes her forget him again….. plot problem for the man because know who know who can have say lex luthor pick out who superman is found of and that he and clark kent is the same person and use that against him and his friends in next movie… and where in the movie was that canera guy that jimmy was missing from man of steel??? why ??

The Hound

Waid needs to stop crying and whining like a little b**ch! I like what Goyer, Snyder and Nolan decided to do with Supes killing Zod. It is something different and more grounded to a real life and death situation and now we can see how Clark/Superman evolves as a character from this in the next films. Superman has to learn from his decisions and mistakes. As someone else said, this is an origin story and Superman is still a young rookie.

Yuuuuup!

A very good ending and it was fresh and relatively unexpected. Remember the reasoning behind it from Snyder and Goyer. Clark is still a rookie in MOS and this is a new screen origin depiction. After the events of MOS and after killing Zod, he will learn from it and therefore his aversion to killing from here on out in the sequel(s) and possible JL film will have would have originated from the killing of Zod.

Aaron Thrasher

As we know from Doomsday, a Kryptonian can not die on earth as long as there is a yellow sun.

Adzli

Remember the scene in Superman 3 where Clark have to kill the evil Superman in order to redeem himself back?…..so its the same thing in Man Of Steel…the only difference is that Zod is trying to kill human with his heat vision n Superman could not stop him unless he kills him….but after that he emotionally regret it ……its a good ending…but then now the question now is the sequel….who will be his next villain?…..now that Zod died…..please no more Lex Luthor

John Bittner

First off they are both super powered. That does not in any way indicate that they cannot be killed. If Kryptonians cannot be killed then a war among only Kryptonians would be just that… A WAR. nobody would die, nobody would give up and nobody would win. The story would never end and it would be an epic battle FOREVER. Seems cheap and boring to me. In this movie Kal El's story was rebooted and modernized. The main story line was more believable and dramatic. It took nothing from Superman's principles. It only showed that Superman was learning to hone his powers to better life for humans. While learning people/Kryptonians make mistakes and poor decisions. He obviously felt pain from doing what he did because he screamed in disbelief of what he was forced to do. So in a strange type of reality, I believe one Kryptonian can kill another. It seems reasonable.

with that said, why is there such an out roar? Is it because he is Kryptonian and better than humans? He was in fact raised by humans. Now I am sure I will be criticized for this post but, I don't care because I am happy to see my childhood hero brought back to the screen for a younger generation to share the love of this character that I have. I loved the movie and will recommend it to any Superman fan. at best it will spark an amazing debate on the end and keep us wanting more of the new generation of superheros.

James

One Superman breaking another Superman's (Zod) neck violates Superman's invincability rule. The only way it is supposed to be possible is if you weaken one with Kryptonite first. I don't understand how this is possible.

kalel

Ok next question, you are superman. ZOD is about to kill innocents unless you kill him. WHAT DO YOU DO? Put him to a grapple untill he is unconcious? he is superman fighting a kryptonian, not Dexter killing someone! OF COURSE they did well to kill Zod because superman is no longer a cartoon superman need to be more new milenium and less fake . he needs a reboot, an emotional reboot like that, more REALISTIC, like the dark knight trilogy. For me Man of Steel is as good as it could be. its PERFECT.

sysnoodles

Superhero films fulfill the same propaganda use as Westerns in the 50's. Alot of dead Vietnamese and Americans cry out from their graves.

Alec

The entire movie I could tell that they were going to have superman kill zod in the end, what disappointed me was that, they didn't put a good enough build up to it. Zod is the only other kryptonian alive besides Clark now and besides that his insane division to krypton, has made him into a monster I think that it was in some ways supermans responsibility to put him down as their was no other authority that could fairly judge (seeing as how the rest of the kryptonians are dead and he's not human) him. However there was no build up to it and it was in a moment that seamed entirely avoidable all together

Alec

The entire movie I could tell that they were going to have superman kill zod in the end, what disappointed me was that, they didn't put a good enough build up to it. Zod is the only other kryptonian alive besides Clark now and besides that his insane division to krypton, has made him into a monster I think that it was in some ways supermans responsibility to put him down as their was no other authority that could fairly judge (seeing as how the rest of the kryptonians are dead and he's not human) him. However there was no build up to it and it was in a moment that seamed entirely avoidable all together

Aidan

If superman didnt kill zoid then he would continue killing becuase it's not like zoid could be calmed or arrested.

Alec

The entire movie I could tell that they were going to have superman kill zod in the end, what disappointed me was that, they didn't put a good enough build up to it. Zod is the only other kryptonian alive besides Clark now and besides that his insane division to krypton, has made him into a monster I think that it was in some ways supermans responsibility to put him down as their was no other authority that could fairly judge (seeing as how the rest of the kryptonians are dead and he's not human) him. However there was no build up to it and it was in a moment that seamed entirely avoidable all together

Alec

The entire movie I could tell that they were going to have superman kill zod in the end, what disappointed me was that, they didn't put a good enough build up to it. Zod is the only other kryptonian alive besides Clark now and besides that his insane division to krypton, has made him into a monster I think that it was in some ways supermans responsibility to put him down as their was no other authority that could fairly judge (seeing as how the rest of the kryptonians are dead and he's not human) him. However there was no build up to it and it was in a moment that seamed entirely avoidable all together

Alec

The entire movie I could tell that they were going to have superman kill zod in the end, what disappointed me was that, they didn't put a good enough build up to it. Zod is the only other kryptonian alive besides Clark now and besides that his insane division to krypton, has made him into a monster I think that it was in some ways supermans responsibility to put him down as their was no other authority that could fairly judge (seeing as how the rest of the kryptonians are dead and he's not human) him. However there was no build up to it and it was in a moment that seamed entirely avoidable all together

Aidan

If superman didnt kill zoid then he would continue killing becuase it's not like zoid could be calmed or arrested.

Chris

I'd like to add that Batman "kills" Ducard/Ras al Ghul at the end of Batman Begins. He planned to have a section of the tracks destroyed, he disabled the brakes, and he glided away with the guy still on the train. I'm pretty sure that in a court of law, that constitutes killing someone.

Why does nobody ever bring this up? If I remember properly it's Batman that is the most gung-ho about not killing people no matter what.

Chris8010

Not wasting money on this. The second i saw Superman strain on things he shouldn't have was insulting enough. To have him snap Zod's neck was salt in the wound. These stories don't work in the real world. Batman is just a rich psycho and now Superman is a overpowered murderer. Congratulations? Leave my childhood the fuck alone with your retarded and money grabbing concepts that sell the name and nothing else. If not for Ledgers performance that whole trilogy was garbage.

Revan

So we are just going to ignore the part of the comics that says superman could not of snapped another kryptonian's neck? k

Steven

The thing I like about DC heroes, including Superman, Batman and the Justice League, is their uncompromising sense of morality. There are exceptions to this. But, generally these heroes do not kill villains. These heroes are quite powerful and the government can't really keep them in check. So, by not killing villains it takes the edge off the vigilante and uncontrollable superhuman argument. Also, the public do not fear them, in part due to the fact that they generally do not kill. Furthermore, more than ever in our troubled world society needs lasting and unchanging examples of morality to look up to, even if such morals are currently unachievable due to the state of things.

I personally didn't find anything wrong with Superman killing General Zod, although it was unexpected and shocking. This was a young immature Superman, so I see this as an early mistake that will ultimately shape his character and sense of morality in the future for the better. What Superman did was moral, but now he will strive to achieve higher morals.

Jonny

FFS, Zod committed suicide by Superman.

Timolin Burke

Much is being made over the newest Superman film, 'Man of Steel', ending with the Kryptonian killing a fellow Kryptonian, the villain. Perhaps people forget: in the 1970s Superman-II film, Superman throws Zod and his male Lieutenant into the Arctic crevasse, then Lois follows suit with the female Lieutenant. The three villains have lost their powers so they suffer off-screen death at the hand of the heroes.

That being said, comic purists could argue the Heroic Mythos requires Superman never to kill. I can understand that point of view but don't share it. Having begun my membership in Super-fandom in the late-1950s, via comics, I feel we are a more openly blood-thirsty culture at this point in time. Long-overused is the trope of Superman being bedeviled by the villain for a prolonged period due to the rule not to kill, the relief of which is provided by the villain dying on his own. This is a moral cheat and has been a cheap resolution throughout all hero films and TV shows employing it during the 20th century. Even my child-brain wondered, what would they do if the villain HADN'T conveniently, say, fallen off a skyscraper?

The real moral dilemma facing our world now is WHEN killing a bad guy is justified, and it is appropriate our era's films should chew on that. Even the recent excellent Star Trek-II [SPOILER] hinted Spock might have killed the villain after catching him, whaling on him down on Earth. Spock's rage was stopped short and redirected by Uhura saying they need the villain to resurrect Kirk. In fact, that entire film's meta is the question 'When should we break rules, and when should we not, and why?" All permutations of rule-keeping and rule-breaking are on display during the film with the coda of Spock saying to Kirk, "I will leave it to your good judgment" — meaning there is no black/white rule "Never Break Rules" — one must develop good judgment, which is our Human Condition.

Right now there is fierce public debate whether it is right to drone terrorists to prevent them the chance of raining down their terror. Also controversial is whether extensive monitoring of the public should be employed to avoid terrorism. Personally, I think both droning and data-mining are appropriate in our world today, where bad guys don't face each other on the field of battle; instead, they melt into the multitudinous crowd, then strike via anonymity. Terror plots don't foil themselves, and think of how we'd be clamoring for MORE protection if those fifty or so foiled plots referred to by the NSA hadn't been successfully stopped.

In 'Man of Steel', Zod eluded being sucked back into 'The Phantom Zone'/Singularity. After that, there could be no resolution for him other than death, no cage to hold him. And, as others have pointed out, a Superman who suffers the anguish of killing Zod, will have internalized the proscription against killing, and will go to great lengths in the future to avoid killing again. In future films, we will understand why he does so, and we will relate to his struggle to find non-murderous resolution. After all, the question of Capital Punishment is another debate our world is having. 'Man of Steel' offers a truly 21st century Superman…embroiled in the profound moral dilemmas of our time.

randy

the best superman movie i watch so far

blueorangeny31

We still on this? lmao. Mark Waid. I love the dude but he's incorrect. To everyone still clamoring about it. Superman has killed, both comics and movie. That's it.

Lily

Should've listened to Nolan the first time.

Jesse

My problem wasn't so much that supes killed zod, but that he barely had any time to reflect after. In a massively long film, couldn't we have had a scene or a few shots where superman considers the weight of what he's done before cutting to a scene where he's cracking wise with the general after destroying the drone?

Jesse

My problem wasn't so much that supes killed zod, but that he barely had any time to reflect after. In a massively long film, couldn't we have had a scene or a few shots where superman considers the weight of what he's done before cutting to a scene where he's cracking wise with the general after destroying the drone?

Nick

thanks for adding NOTHING, Skywater!

Skywater

You read all that alan? You're a better man than me.

skywater

@nick, cool story bro.

luke

Just one point, and usually I would had overlooked it. However, since you mentioned- "And I'm still of the argument that once the people of Metropolis saw what was happening at the city level, most people would have evacuated those skyscrapers."

So basically most people evacuated except the people who provide NEWS; which they show are unaware of this sudden attack, oh yes because they are the last ones to know what is going around?

Peace.

Nick

I feel like I've been taking fucking crazy pills the last few days…

Why is everyone forgetting that in the THEATRICAL CUT of the Donner/Lester Superman II, Superman drains Zod, Ursa, and Non of their powers, and then they are all thrown to their off-screen, no-doubt-grisly deaths (with a little help from Lois, that stone-cold-killer!), down some ice chutes into the depths of the Fortress of Solitude?! Without their powers, they'd be killed upon impact. Superman would then be responsible for their "murders," if you want to call it that.

Anyone complaining about Superman snapping Zod's neck in Man of Steel is out of touch with reality, and clearly not in synch with the real-world aesthetic that Nolan has brought to ALL of the superhero movies he's had his paws on. Superman HAD to kill Zod at the end of Man of Steel. What was his other option? All trying to send him back into the Phantom Zone would have accomplished is keeping him alive and giving him yet another chance to escape and destroy more cities. Superman is about THE GREATER GOOD. Beyond the fact that innocents were about to be heat-visioned to death by Zod, had he not broken his neck, there'd likely be more destruction of Metropolis with further collateral damage. And I'm still of the argument that once the people of Metropolis saw what was happening at the city level, most people would have evacuated those skyscrapers, resulting in a smaller death toll than critics are complaining about.

Also, Zod basically allows himself to be killed. Once he realizes that his posse has been destroyed and that there's no way he can win, he essentially allows himself to be put into a sleeper hold. He's been born and bred to do one thing and now that that one thing is gone, he's useless, thus making the El's decision to have a natural birth even more poignant and effective.

Also, this guy Waid is off his ass. "Superman should have flown out to a cornfield to have his fight"?! or some nonsense like that. Please. Superman went to where Zod was because Zod was about to ANNHILATE Metropolis. Zod had every intention of consuming the planet's resources first and foremost, destroying Superman was a close second. The one power that Superman doesn't have is the ability to be in two places at the same time, so it makes sense that he needed help from the military, and Superman heading out the Indian Ocean to destroy the other world building machine in no-way-shape-or-form represents Superman ditching out on his responsibilities to save innocent people.

Also, the 9/11 arguments are BEYOND TIRED & LAZY. The ONLY reason why anyone compares big-budget, city-style destruction in Hollywood movies to the events of 9/11 is because of ONE incident in our history. One. Hollywood had been leveling cities for YEARS and nobody EVER complained. Enough is enough. Sick of it. Move on.

And to note — instances where Superman has KILLED someone/something:

Zod/Co. in Superman II and in comic form
Doomsday in the comics/cartoon
The Joker in the Injustice comic series
Criminals from Krypton with Gold & Green Kryptonite in comics
Golden-era Superman repeatedly threw gangsters and criminals to their off-panel deaths
Pre-Crisis Superman killed Mxyzptlk in Action #583
Nuclear Man in Quest for Peace

But here's my ONE question with the movie (which I looooooooved overall): If all it took to kill Zod was a quick snap of the neck, how could Zod have survived all of the skyscraper devastation when he was thrown from building to building? Is the argument that Zod's powers weren't yet fully honed the reason for this ability to be killed by a snap of the neck? He was almost fully powered up but not all the way there? Superman's powers were more developed as a result of more time spent on Earth, therefore he's unable to be killed by a neck-snap. Is this correct?

And to close, any critic who gave The Avengers or ANY of the Marvel movies an enthusiastic review and then turned around and panned Man of Steel should be FIRED. Critics had an agenda with this film from the get-go — they went after Man of Steel because of one name associated with it: Zack Snyder. Had the director's credit read: A Film by Christopher Nolan, the film would be in the 90% range at RT, and you wouldn't have heard half of the insipid bitching from critics that we had to endure last week.

$125 million in 3 days at the U.S. box office, with a Cinemascore of A/A-, means that REGULAR PEOPLE enjoyed the movie immensely. Watch when this week it drops in the upper 40's or low 50's, and then evens out to 30% drops in the coming weeks, with a July 4th bump. Massive success, both artistically and commercially. What Synder-Nolan-Goyer-Mokri-Zimmer did with Superman was nothing short of EXTRAORDINARY. They took 75 years of history and pop iconography and simultaneously paid respect to everything that has come before, while also creating something new and modern and bold and exciting and visually dynamic.

Luke

So he killed Zod because he did not want to see some humans being cut in half. Just before that scene- a huge part of metropolis was destroyed, among several building! However, sups just caught Lois Lane and quickly made out, not to forget the Joke- while all that just happened and a lady was stuck in the debris just besides him. Then they went through colliding with several buildings, again lets assume no one got killed in those shuffles.

Oh and of course an alien race is not just threatening the planet, but changing its core but folks got to visit the museum to stay up to date with the history. Pure BS.

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