Man of Steel: Michael Shannon Reflects on Zod's Death

When Zack Snyder's Man of Steel came out in 2013, it set a profoundly dark tone for the DC Extended Universe. One of the most controversial scenes was during Superman (Henry Cavill) and General Zod's (Michael Shannon) climactic battle. While promoting his upcoming film The Quarry from Lionsgate, Shannon spoke to Cinema Blend, about how the scene defined both characters. Fighting to a near stalemate, their battle went dangerously close to civilians. In an ultimate test of morality, Zod uses his heat vision and starts turning his head towards the bystanders. Superman gripped Zod in a chokehold from behind. Unable to slow down during Zod's taunting, Superman broke his neck, killing him. Kal-El let out a giant wail breaking his vow never to use his powers for killing beside his fellow Kryptonian.

Michael Shannon at the premiere of "Knives Out" at the Regency Village Theatre. Editorial credit: Featureflash Photo Agency /
Michael Shannon at the premiere of "Knives Out" at the Regency Village Theatre. Editorial credit: Featureflash Photo Agency /

Man of Steel: Testing Superman's Morality

"No, I didn't think there was any other way to end it, really," Shannon said. "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?" Snyder used similar dark tones inspired by Greek tragedy when directing 300 (2006) and Watchmen(2009). In addition to the overtones, Man of Steel offered a more grounded approach to how earthlings react to the unknown and all-powerful. More are understandably afraid than embrace the visitor from another planet. While filming the climactic fight at Union Station, the location bore historical significance as it reminded him of the descending stroller scene in The Untouchables (1987).

justice league man of steel zack snyder
Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel. Credit: Warner Bros.

"Honestly, it was so amazing to me shooting that scene because I'm from Chicago," Shannon said. "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."

No Complaints Here

Shannon never thought there was anything wrong with the final fight, as presented. While actors provide notes to change any nuance, the actor said he doesn't feel he needs to unless necessary. "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."

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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