It was a controversial ending. So controversial that it still divides a fanbase, to this day. Zack Snyder ends his Man of Steel with Superman (Henry Cavill) killing his enemy, Zod (Michael Shannon). It was an act that devastated Kal-El. But it was essential… even though a certain sect of Superman fans feel their hero should never kill, under any circumstance.
We scoured the Internet and didn’t see Michael Shannon’s opinion on Snyder’s decision to have Zod killed. So when the actor joined the ReelBlend podcast recently to discuss his upcoming film The Quarry, we asked him if he thought that Zod’s death was unnecessary. He candidly answered:
No, I didn't think there was any other way to end, it, really. I mean, Zod says it's either me or you. I'm not gonna let you survive. I will kill you, unless you kill me. And that seemed sufficiently Greek to me, you know?
There’s no question Zack Snyder references Greek mythology when constructing his interpretations of the classic DC heroes and villains. This reaches back to the iconic way Snyder paints in movies like 300 and Watchmen. But he wallows in tragedy, and finds human elements in this conflicts. To me, the end of Man of Steel shapes who Superman is meant to become, so it’s necessary.
As for actually filming the controversial Man of Steel scene, Shannon says he was distracted for a totally different, more film-fan reason. He says:
Honestly, it was so amazing to me shooting that scene because I'm from Chicago. I started acting in Chicago, anyway. I was there in Union Station, which is like an iconic building in Chicago, in the same place they shot the stroller scene from The Untouchables. I just kept looking around trying to figure out, ‘Where was Andy Garcia? Where was Sean Connery? Where was Kevin Costner? Where were they all standing?’ So that was my main preoccupation when I was shooting that scene.
Can’t blame him. That scene from The Untouchables is so memorable. Remember this choreography?
Back to Man of Steel. Another reason why Michael Shannon was totally fine with the way that Zod met his end in the movie is because he’s typically beholden to the script, and rarely asks for major changes. So it would be out of character for him to ask Zack Snyder to come up with a different resolution. Shannon told us:
I've seen other actors that feel more comfortable kind of going in and screwing around with the script and the story. But I, I've never felt real comfortable with that unless there's something that's just glaringly nonsensical. I kinda keep my mouth shut, because I'm not a writer. I can’t write a screenplay to save my life. So I have a lot of respect for the script and, and I only go off it if I'm encouraged to by the director.
And so, the ending of Man of Steel is what it was meant to be, and the controversy can continue to fuel debate for years to come. While Michael Shannon won’t be in a DC movie in the future, he will be playing a lawman in The Quarry, coming from Lionsgate soon.