Christopher Nolan Didn't Want Man of Steel's Ending
Man of Steel director Zack Snyder and writer David Goyer revealed on The Empire Film Podcast that producer/comic book movie Godfather Christopher Nolan initially did not approve of the controversial ending where Superman kills General Zod.
“Killing Zod was a big thing,” Goyer said. “And that was something that Chris Nolan originally said, ‘There’s no way you can do this’.... Originally, Zod got sucked into the Phantom Zone along with the others.”
When that ending proved to be unsatisfying, Goyer had to convince others to go with the twist. “We talked to some of the people at DC Comics and said, ‘Do you think there’s ever a way that Superman would kill someone?’ At first they said, ‘No way. No way.’ We said, ‘But what if he didn’t have a choice?’ Originally, Chris didn’t even want to let us try to write it. Zack and I said, ‘We think we can figure out a way that you’ll buy it.’ I came up with this idea of the heat vision and these people about to die. I wrote the scene and I gave it to Chris and he said, ‘OK, you convinced me. I buy it.’”
Goyer added that the decision goes a long way to modernize Superman for a new generation, saying, “If you don’t reinvent these characters…then they become stagnant, and they cease being relevant…hopefully, we’ve redefined Superman.”
Snyder weighed in with the idea that Superman killing Zod is actually key to him developing as a hero.
“If it’s truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained,” Snyder said. “I felt like, if we could find a way of making it impossible for him - Kobayashi Maru, totally no way out - I felt like that could also make you go, ‘This is the why of him never killing again.’ He’s basically obliterated his entire people and his culture, and he is responsible for it, and he’s just, like, ‘How could I ever kill again?’”
The idea of a morally ambiguous and unpredictable Superman seemed to resonate with the director.
“If there were more adventures for our Superman to go on, you’re given this thing where, you don’t know 100 percent what he’s going to do. When you put in stone the concept that he won’t kill, and it’s totally in stone, it really erases an option in the viewer’s mind…you’ll always have in the back of your mind, ‘How far can you push him?’ If he sees Lois get hurt, or his mother get killed, you just made a really mad Superman that we know is capable of some really horrible stuff, if he wants to be. That’s the thing that’s cool about him, in some ways. The idea that he has the frailties of a human emotionally. But you don’t want to get that guy mad,” he said.