This June will not only mark nine months until Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is released, it will also be the two-year anniversary of Man of Steel, the Superman film that kicked off the DC Cinematic Universe. This film gave us a grittier take on the alien Kal-El, a.k.a. Clark Kent (Henry Cavill), who was launched off the dying planet Krypton and raised among humans, only to discover that he was gifted with superpowers like super strength, flight, heat vision and more. Clark was forced to put these powers to work when General Zod (Michael Shannon), a Kryptonian criminal who had also survived Krypton’s destruction, came to Earth looking for Kal-El to reform our planet so it would be a new home for Kryptonians. Clark was able to stop Zod’s plan, but in an act of desperation, he was forced to kill Zod to save lives.

This brutal scene is still a heated topic of debate among comic book and film fans, some believing that Superman was right to kill Zod while others believing that it’s against Superman’s nature to take another life (including Mark Waid, who wrote the origin story Superman: Birthright). The shocking moment certainly fits in with the darker tone of Man of Steel compared to past Superman movies. And while the deed is done, fans now are left wondering what kind of impact this killing will have on Superman in future appearances, if any at all. This wasn’t the first time Superman has taken a life (‘cough’ Superman II ‘cough’), but it was definitely the most publicized.

In our latest Endings column, we’re examining how the creative talent behind Man of Steel defended this scene, and how it's destined to shape the events of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, as well as the developing DCCU. First, let’s take a closer look at what happened.

The Ending
The Controversial Ending
After Clark destroyed General Zod’s terraforming world engine, Zod felt that since his attempts to create a new Krypton failed, the only thing left for him to do was to kill every human being, out of revenge. Thus began an epic brawl between the only two living Kryptonians across Metropolis, which made the property damage in The Avengers look like child’s play. Their battle eventually took them to a subway station, and as Clark held Zod in a chokehold, Zod unleashed his heat vision near an innocent family. As the beams drew closer, Clark begged Zod to stop, but he refused, so Clark was forced to snap the general’s neck. The civilians were saved, but Clark had killed the only remaining member of his species. Struck with grief, he fell to his knees and screamed out in emotional pain.

The final minutes of the movie glossed over Clark’s grieving process, and instead had him taking care of business both in his superhero and civilian identities. As Superman, he told General Swanwick that he’s here to help the United States, but it has to be on his own terms. As Clark, he snagged himself a reporter position at the Daily Planet so he can keep an ear out for anything unusual and go to dangerous areas without anyone batting an eye. So not only is Clark’s familiar status quo from the comic books now set up, but the U.S. government is now wondering if the superpowered alien operating on their soil might ever act against its best interests.

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