A-WOOGA, A-WOOGA! SPOILER WARNING! Seriously, we're talking massive, film ruining spoilers right here. If you have yet to see Man of Steel and you are in any way adverse to spoilers, then I suggest you leave immediately. These aren't little rumors that could be kind of construed as spoilers, these are massive 50-megaton, weapon-grade, uranium enriched spoilers. You have been warned.
Man of Steel writer, David S. Goyer, recently held an interview with the Empire Magazine Podcast in which he talked through the process of developing Man of Steel's unexpected (but still awesome) ending. It seemed that Superman's killing of Zod was a (neck-)twist that wasn't supported by everyone on the Man of Steel production team. Goyer explained that originally, producer preferred a more traditional Superman story devoid of killing:
Killing Zod was a big thing and Chris Nolan, originally, said there's no way you can do this. That was a change - originally Zod got sucked into the Phantom Zone along with the others and I just felt it was unsatisfying and so did Zack. We started questioning - we talked to some of the people at DC Comics and said, "Do you think there is ever a way that Superman would kill someone?" And at first they said "No way, no way," and we said, "but what if he didn't have a choice?" Originally Chris didn't even want to let us try to write it and Zack and I said, "We think we can figure out a way that you’ll buy it."
Goyer went on to acknowledge that although the scene was upsetting, it was essential to challenging the audiences preconceptions about Supes.
Director Zack Snyder added:
I guess for me - and in the original version of the script he just got zapped into the Phantom Zone — David and I had long talks about it and Chris and I talked long about it and it was like, "I really think we should kill Zod and I really think Superman should kill him. And the why of it was, for me, that if it's truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained. It's just in his DNA. I felt like we needed him to do something, just like him putting on the glasses or going to the Daily Planet or any of the other things that you're sort of seeing for the first time that you realize will then become his thing. I felt like, if we can find a way of making it impossible for him - like Kobayashi Maru, totally no way out - I felt like that could also make you go, "Okay, this is the why of him not killing ever again, right?" He's basically obliterated his entire people and his culture and he is responsible for it and he's just like, "How could I kill ever again?"
Snyder explained that once Zod's political purpose was taken away from him, he simply became a killing machine that couldn't be stopped with a simple apprehending and condemning to the Phantom Zone. He suggested Zod's actions were akin to "suicide by cop" and that after having failed his people, Zod was only seeking a "good death [as] its own reward". From the sounds of things, Superman's killing of Zod will have a profound future impact. Snyder continued:
I think that when you really put in stone the notion that he won't kill, it erases an option in the viewer's mind. That doesn't mean that he doesn't now have a code that "I just won’t do that; I have to find another way."
What do you think? Was it the best way to end the movie, or should they have kept it more akin to the traditional Superman? Let us know below.