Welcome back to another installment of my DC Villains Spotlight! Today we're going to be focusing on the general of the Kryptonian army, and main villain of Man of Steel. Let's dive into it!
Much like Faora, Zod is a soldier, but his leadership position is what sets him apart from being labeled only as a soldier. Zod is a large part of what makes Man of Steel such a well made, thought-provoking film. This movie makes you question whether or not Zod is truly a "villain." Just for a moment let us step into Zod's shoes. In the beginning of the film we see him leading a coup that aims to overthrow the government and preserve what's left of a dying world whose death you know you could've prevented. Then one of your old friends takes matters into his own hands and sends the entire future of your race into space with an infant on the off chance that it may or may not survive the flight off planet. Then out of rage you murder your friend, and subsequently get arrested and sent to exile as you watch your homeland become nothing more than a memory. Take a second and think about that. Imagine what that does to a person.
After years of being stuck in the Phantom zone, he at last has the hope of rebuilding and starting anew. But unfortunately his intentions have become desperate and ruthless as it gets. Instead of living among humans and coinciding peacefully (which was very much an option), Zod has decided that he's going to use world engines to destroy humanity and create a livable atmosphere for his new Kryptonian people to thrive in. Keep in mind that Earth is perfectly livable for a Kryptonian, but it would take time to adjust, and Zod refuses this inconvenience. He knows there is a more peaceful alternative, but his view of life and whose matters and whose doesn't is so warped that he would destroy an entire race to further his own and not blink an eye, and justify it as a simple means to an end.
Kal-El (Superman) ends up destroying Zod's means of exacting the completion of his plan, and here is where Zod realizes that he has lost everything he's been fighting for. Then we see the deconstruction of someone who has nothing to fight for, no purpose, and is filled with nothing more than grief and rage.
General Zod is too often mistaken as a generic villain whose only motivation is power, but if you actually pay the slightest bit of attention, you see that his actions are actually quite selfless, at least until his plan falls through. He is willing to damn his soul to Hell if that is what it takes to help his cause: his people. Not only does he lose that purpose, but now he is still alive with no clue what to do with himself. He had all hope taken away from him, and the only thing he can think to do is exact revenge (maybe righteous vengeance from his point of view) and destroy all who took part in the destruction of his people. He even says to Kal-El: "There's only one way this ends: Either you die, or I do." He has made it his mission not only to destroy Superman but destroy what he loves (Earth) in the process. From a certain point of view, General Zod is actually a quite tragic character, and that is why I believe he is so compelling. He's not a completely BAD guy. He is a villain because of circumstance, and I think that is an incredible take on the character, that forces you to question what you would do in his shoes.
So what do you guys think? What are your thoughts on General Zod? Let me know in the comments below!