We can't stop talking about the ending of Man of Steel, and we're not alone. Everyone on the Internet it seems, including people who are bona fide Superman experts, are obsessed with the way that Zack Snyder wraps up his taken on the blue Boy Scout, either criticizing the needless destruction, defending Snyder's action skills, or doing both at the same time. It's a very confusing time to be a superhero fan.
Snyder himself is presumably busy now counting his stacks of money and preparing for the sequel, but he did take the time to talk to the Empire Online podcast, and in some excerpts posted by The Playlist, explains the choices that went into the ending that has so many people up in arms.
SPOILERS FOR MAN OF STEEL FOLLOW
Still with us? OK, here we go. In the original script for Man of Steel, Superman doesn't make the harrowing decision to snap General Zod's neck and kill him-- something that a lot of Superman fans were horrified by, given the character's longstanding aversion of killing. But according to Snyder, that choice wasn't just a way to add a little more drama into the final act-- it was a specific part of the origin story they were telling:
David [S. Goyer], Chris [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.”
As it turns out, Nolan still wasn't convinced it was the way to go until Goyer specifically wrote out the scene, putting Superman in the position of choosing between saving the lives of the citizens right in front of him or killing a man. Of course, if you ask some people, the lives of those few Metropolis citizens are nothing compared to the many thousands who have died in the preceding battle. But for Superman, looking into the eyes of innocent people, he has no choice but to kill… a choice that some Superman fans say he never would have made, but which we can at least understand.
As much as some of the comments have gotten heated (seriously, guys, be nicer to each other!) I've been enjoying this ongoing debate about the end of Man of Steel-- it's not that often that the main conversation about a movie's climax is about moral dilemmas, not just the amount of awesome explosions. Snyder has us talking about his movie for a lot of different reasons… and like it or not, it's that ability to rile us up that Warner Bros. surely wants to keep in play when the sequel comes around too.