The ending of Man of Steel left a lot of Superman fans lost and alone. Metropolis was in ruin and the defender of truth, justice, and the American way had just gone and snapped a dude’s neck. It was certainly not the action of a Superman character we were familiar with. While some embraced this difference, others were frustrated by it. Well, the man behind that Kryptonian neck breaking says it was necessary for the story.
David S. Goyer, the writer of Man of Steel, was a guest on a recent Nerdist podcast and he said that both he and producer Christopher Nolan feel that the story has to take precedence over the character.
You have to do what’s right for the story. In that instance, this was a Superman who had only been Superman for like, a week. He wasn’t Superman as we think of him in the DC Comics... If you take Superman out of it, what’s the right way to tell that story?... [T]he moral, horrible situation to be in is to actually be forced to kill, not wanting to, the only other person from your race. Take Superman aside, I think that’s the right way to tell that story.
On the one hand the argument does make some sense. The other part of the finale that fans found problematic, the destruction of Metropolis and the apparent massive loss of life that was entailed in that, is being used as the primary motivation for Batman in the upcoming sequel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. It’s certainly possible that this is a long game that the writers are playing and that the larger story required this action.
It’s also true that, as much as Superman, and his various personality traits, has become a part of pop culture, this particular version of Superman is a new character. He wasn’t actually acting any differently that Superman would because from the story’s perspective Superman had never acted in any particular way before.
At the same time, if, at some point, the character does not become the Superman that fans know, is he really Superman? It’s one thing to say that the story works if you take Superman out of it, but they didn’t take Superman out of it. He’s in fact in the whole thing. If the story only makes sense by taking the lead character out, then isn’t there an obvious problem? The debate rages.
Goyer is acting as both writer and producer on next year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, so one way or another, the story will continue. Fans are excited for the sequel, regardless of their feelings for the last one. Hopefully all of it will payoff.