Man of Steel was generally pretty well-received by fans as a solid origin story for Superman, although they didn’t know at the time that it would serve as the launchpad towards the rapid expansion of the DCEU, despite the movie containing several Easter Eggs that hinted at a bigger universe.
One of the most talked-about and controversial aspects of Zack Snyder’s blockbuster is Superman’s decision to kill General Zod at the climax of the Metropolis-leveling third act battle, which caused uproar among the fanbase as it flagrantly broke one of the character’s cardinal rules when he snapped his fellow Kryptonian’s neck.
Snyder would go on to do the same thing with Batman, although the filmmaker recently revealed that he was pretty confident that none of the henchmen blown up by the Dark Knight in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice were seriously injured. But during the live-streaming event to celebrate the fourth anniversary of the movie’s release, the director explained his reasons behind having Superman going against his nature to end the life of another living being, and tied it back to his previous comic book flick Watchmen.
“Even if we understand from this outer perspective that Superman is saving the world from being essentially terraformed into another planet, the greater good is being served. It’s like an Ozymandias-type situation when, you know, a big sacrifice is made to save the world and I would say that not even intentionally in this case, Zod is a powerful dude. To suggest you could defeat him without him nearly winning is not realistic at all, or the kind of consequence I wanted from my superhero movies.”
From the sounds of things, Snyder decided to deviate wildly from Superman’s established traits and have him kill Zod to add some serious stakes to the end of the movie. To be fair, a lot of superhero adventures come under criticism for not having any real weight or consequences to them, and by the third act of Man of Steel it had become clear that the Big Blue Boy Scout was going to have to pull out all of the stops in order to prevent his nemesis from taking over the planet.