Good films make me think about more than just the film. I said it in my review & I’ll say it again. I really liked Man of Steel. There seems to be some common complaints specifically about the ending of the film I try and wrap my head around.
In the Defense of Zod:
Zod was a military leader. He was not a scientist, nor was he a society planner. He was a conqueror. Zod believed his main purpose was to insure the survival of Krypton. Then why didn’t he go along with Jor El’s plan? Because he didn’t view the human race as something worth keeping. Why didn’t he just find a planet maker & Genesis ship on one of the outposts & go live a happy life? Because he like Jor El knew that to start over meant he need the genetic make-up of Krypton. Jor El believed it would live through his son & his descendants. Zod was impatient. He recognized the value of Earth as a new Krypton & there was no reason to move on. Zod was genocidal, homicidal and in the end suicidal. More reflection on his final scene causes me to believe a brilliant military strategist would only do what he was doing for one possible outcome.
In the Defense of Superman:
This is a bit of a stretch. Superman’s choice at the end was not only driven by Zod’s actions but it also encompassed the mere presence of another Superman on planet Earth. If he had defeated Zod, there is not a cell on the planet nor a weapon that can stop him. The handcuffs on Superman illustrates this. Superman could not send him through the phantom zone, that ship sailed. Another light stroke that was alluded to was during one of his final monologues, Zod reiterated he was military trained, while Superman was raised on a farm.What could you have possibly learned on a farm that could make you defeat me? I’ll tell you: Zod was telling Clark what he needed to do. When an animal on a farm is a danger to the other animals, it must be put down. Zod’s attack on the family at the end was driving that point home.
In Defense of the filmmakers:
It was Zack’s decision to kill Zod rather than send him off to the Phantom Zone & an uncertain fate. This adds to the complexity of the story rather than alleviate it. It is also better storytelling. A theme that Zack wants to drive home with Man of Steel is Xenophobia: the fear of aliens. Before the original 52 in DC comics Wonder Woman (I know not an alien) snapped someones neck and killed him, this sent waves of fear & anger through the whole DC Universe & the fanbase. Zack borrowed this from the comic for a reason & I’m sure we will see it play out in the sequels. Any character who is invulnerable to outside attack must face internal conflict to make the character layered. Now that Superman put Zod down, most will look at him in horror and say that’s not the Superman I know. Superman will struggle with this, so will the world. It was brutal and that was Zack’s choice. But consider the alternatives. In Superman 2 Zod, Ursa & Non were all killed by Superman & Lois AFTER they were stripped of their powers. A few chuckles & hugs later things were back to normal. They could have incarcerated all 3 EASILY. But no one cared the film was fun light & humorous in parts. What other way could Superman put Zod down? Most other ways I think of are more brutal than the way he did it. It was tough to see the boyscout do what he did, but this is a new Superman for the 21st century, maybe not so much for the kids anymore. He is not a Superman for the real world he is a Superman for a serious world.
Finally through Man of Steel’s ending the director has paved the way for Lex Luthor to have the most rational & understandable argument for destroying Superman. Fear. Most other Lex incarnations has left the question Why’s he out for Superman so bad? Whether it be Crime, Revenge, Distraction, the constant rivals have had the Supervillain always wanting to destroy the Boyscout. Now with Zack’s ending not only can they pit a paranoid billionaire genius, who probably lost a lot of money in the destruction of Metropolis against a hero who might just actually kill Luthor, they may have Luthor gain the support of the people in his paranoia. This alien might kill me, the stakes are now higher than dealing with the boyscout.