Zack Snyder Explains the Controversial ‘Man Of Steel’ Ending, Plus The Real-World Cost of the Destruction
The headline alone should be spoiler warning enough. If you read past this sentence and have NOT seen Zack Snyder‘s Man Of Steel then prepare to have secrets revealed. You were adopted. Ok, that was just a test to make sure you’re paying attention because the spoilers start quick.
With the rebooted Superman movie crushing box office records and a looming sequel (and dollar signs in Warner Bros. execs eyes,) the internet and comic book industry are still heavily debating how Snyder characterized the Last Son of Krypton and his snapping of things and crushing other things. It goes way beyond the red undies on the outside and has started more than a few flame wars across the internet. We have the directors official explanation for the changes coming up. Last chance before we dive in, spoilers start after the jump.
The heart of the controversy centers around the third act of the movie, the final and climatic battle between Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod (Michael Shannon) that levels at least a quarter of downtown Metropolis and ends with the Man of Steel breaking his don’t kill the bad guy rule by snapping Zod’s neck like a dry twig, with the requisite melodrama and screaming of ‘noooooo’ afterwards. Talking with the Empire Online podcast, Snyder revealed that the death of Zod at Kal-El’s hands was a bit of an uphill battle and he fought for it to stay not for added action, but to explain the origin of Superman’s longstanding aversion of killing.
“In the original version of the script, Zod just got zapped into the Phantom Zone,” Snyder explains on the podcast, “But David [S. Goyer], Chris[topher Nolan] 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.”
“[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.'”
So, do you buy that as a valid reason for the Big Blue Boy Scout breaking his one rule? Mark Waid, author of seminal Superman books Birthright and Kingdom Come has strong feelings on the matter. “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.”
Beyond all that, there is still the matter of the multiple city blocks of skyscrapers that were leveled in the final battle. Two alien beings tossing each other through buildings after a magical (totally scientific) gravity pogo device carves a giant circle in the biggest city on the eastern seaboard is quite costly. BuzzFeed asked scientist and longtime disaster expert Charles Watson ( Watson Technical Consulting) to crunch the numbers on the Kryptonian slap fight and came up with staggering results. With New York as a stand in physical damage to the city clocked in at $700 billion. The cost in human life is much more shocking. A staggering 129,000 Metropolites would have lost their lives with another 250,000 missing and presumed dead and 1 million injured. Final bill, $2 trillion Dollars.
There is no doubt that Snyder has taken a new approach to the Man of Tomorrow on the big screen, and we already know that the box office numbers were good enough for the studio to push for a sequel ASAP. If they spend more than a few minutes online looking at fan reactions to all the wanton destruction in the Man of Steel it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the feelings of the public have on the sequel.