Ever since Man of Steel first hit theaters back in 2013, the most contentious aspect about the movie has always been Superman’s decision to snap arch-nemesis Zod’s neck, with fans shocked that a character who lives by truth and justice would just straight-up murder someone. Even if that person is a supervillain who wants to terraform our planet and enslave the human race.
The debate still rages on today, with Zack Snyder’s recent livestreaming event to celebrate the fourth anniversary of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice’s release seeing the filmmaker offer an explanation that pretty much boiled down to ‘because he had to.’ Which does make sense, no matter how much it contravenes the Big Blue Boy Scout’s long-established belief system.
Zod was never going to give up on his plan, and Superman is essentially forced into taking his life, because either way one of them wasn’t going to make it out of their epic battle alive. The man who played Zod agrees with this sentiment, too, as Michael Shannon explained in a recent interview that it had to be one way or the other in the city-destroying scrap between the two Kryptonians.
“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?”
It says a lot about Zack Snyder’s time as the creative driving force behind the DCEU that outside of the constant Snyder Cut speculation, most of the discourse surrounding the movies is based on his decision to have both Superman and Batman break from tradition and be presented as killers. The filmmaker may have laughed off suggestions that Ben Affleck’s Dark Knight was responsible for the deaths of countless henchmen, but everybody that watched Man of Steel definitely saw Henry Cavill break a guy’s neck.