Man Of Steel: Should Superman Have Killed Zod?

(1 min read)

Spoilers for Man of Steel.

Henry Cavill Superman
Superman cries out in agony after having killed Zod

To say that there are quite a few deaths that take place in 2013’s Man of Steel would be an understatement, as the film has since lived in infamy for having a significantly high kill count.

First, there was the inevitable explosion of Krypton, which wiped out an entire race of beings. Then, Jonathan Kent perishes in a tornado storm, after refusing to be saved by Clark Kent. Following this, there were the thousands of lives that were lost at the hands of the World Engine, innocent civilians, soldiers, and the last remaining Kryptonian survivors.

Yes, Man of Steel was a bleak film, but that is a discussion for another time.

What we would like to explore instead is the most shocking of all the harrowing deaths that occurred in the film, the death that essentially divided the fanbase on whether it was a justifiable killing or not: the killing of General Zod.

According to MoS writer David S. Goyer, the intention behind the killing of Zod was to place Superman in a sort of “stalemate”, whereby his only option to put an end to all of the destruction taking place would be to despatch of the crazed villain. Goyer additionally went on to state that the inspiration behind this scene was Ra’s al Ghul’s death in Batman Begins, another seemingly divisive demise whereby Batman foregoes saving the villain’s life and leaves him to die.

Bringing us back to MoS, it can be argued that, while it may not sit well with some fans, Superman’s killing of General Zod is perfectly reasonable within the context of the film itself. In fact, there is a myriad of factors that tailored the narrative to reach this astonishing conclusion.

One of those factors is Superman’s relative inexperience at the time when such a formidable threat materialized before him. Fundamentally speaking, Clark Kent had only just learned about his Kryptonian origins from his biological father, Jor-El, before donning the Superman outfit and taking up the mantle as Earth’s Protector. The timeframe of these circumstances took place over a mere handful of days before General Zod showed up on Earth, thereby making the Man of Steel unprepared to face his foe.

Secondly, General Zod is portrayed as Superman’s equal in the film, resulting in the “stalemate” scenario opined by Goyer. Therefore, as the two superpowered beings are evenly matched, their battle would have lasted a lifetime, and there would have been no end in sight to the chaos that Zod might wreak on the city of Metropolis and the world if he was not ultimately killed, as a pair of ordinary handcuffs would not be able to subdue the villain either.

Lastly, Superman was left with no choice other than to kill General Zod due to the latter’s motives for invading Earth. You see, in the 1980 film Superman II, the villainous General Zod’s motive was that of enslaving the human race. Yet, this incarnation of the character was killed off as well. In MoS, General Zod is characterized as a villain with a far more nefarious agenda; the complete annihilation of Earth in order to rebuild Krypton in his image. Thus, it would only stand to reason that in order to preserve the greater good and save billions of lives, Superman had no other option other than to kill Zod to save the world.

Of course, this is just one way of looking at the situation.

 

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