David S. Goyer Talks 'Man of Steel' Killing, May Write 'Justice League'

September 24, 2013
Source: Digital Spy, THR

Man of Steel

**Spoilers follow in this discussion, so beware** Following the release of Man of Steel, we sparked a discussion about death in the franchise reboot. There was a lot of buzz surrounding the seemingly massive casualties in the third act of the film, not to mention the shocking act of Superman killing General Zod by snapping his neck. Now screenwriter David S. Goyer is talking about that change in Superman's character, and how they approached that element when making the film. In addition, Goyer addresses rumblings that he might be tapped to write an eventual Justice League movie following 2015's Batman vs. Superman.

Digital Spy has a report from the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters’ Lecture where Goyer discussed the inclusion of Superman taking a life, and explains their thought process:

“We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial. It’s not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren’t just doing it to be cool. We felt, in the case of Zod, we wanted to put the character in an impossible situation and make an impossible choice.

This is one area, and I’ve written comic books as well and this is where I disagree with some of my fellow comic book writers – ‘Superman doesn’t kill’. It’s a rule that exists outside of the narrative and I just don’t believe in rules like that. I believe when you’re writing film or television, you can’t rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film.”

Goyer adds that the decision came down to not making things easy for Supes:

“So the situation was, Zod says ‘I’m not going to stop until you kill me or I kill you.’ The reality is no prison on the planet could hold him and in our film Superman can’t fly to the moon, and we didn’t want to come up with that crutch.”

Goyer also confirms what some fans and this writer discussed months ago:

“Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he’s not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he’s Superman and because people idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard.”

So Superman's killing General Zod may be a mistake that he has to live with, and one that he learns from as he becomes a superhero in Metropolis. Perhaps from here on out, Superman won't take a life. We'll find out when he faces his next adversary in Man of Steel 2, which we already know will bring Ben Affleck as Batman into the mix, paving the way for an eventual DC Comics superhero ensemble. THR recently asked Goyer if he would end up writing Justice League and he responded simply and vaguely with, "Might be, can’t say.” Obviously they don't want to count their chickens before they hatched. Stay tuned.

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Reader Feedback - 30 Comments


I may be in the minority, but I found the whole situation (contrived as it may have been) extremely poignant. Why doesn't Superman kill? Because he did once, and now he knows the weight it carries with it.

Phillip Gockel on Sep 24, 2013


I agree. In the comics, he doesn't kill b/c he is a boy scout and was a piece of US propaganda. For his character to truly have this moral, he has to first have a reason for that standard and understand WHY it is important. The whole movie he has to hold himself back. It wasn't until the end that he realizes his true capability and the ramifications/responsibilities that comes with those abilities. So I get it when Goyer says, he wasn't Superman until the end and that he needed to kill Zod to complete that process.

dbucks on Sep 24, 2013


Which is exactly what I said.

Phillip Gockel on Sep 24, 2013


Superman has killed in movies and comics before. Not really sure why this was news to movie goers.

DarthDiggler on Sep 24, 2013


because these movie goers who pretend to be "fans" have no idea what the fuck they're talking about lol

dvt on Sep 24, 2013


US propaganda? Libtard alert...libtard alert!!! Go line up for an iPhone or something

YoMomma on Sep 24, 2013


I wish they would scrap the JL idea and to Kingdom Come instead. There's a movie I would wait in line for.

Edomaniac on Sep 24, 2013


I wish they would stop making all these mediocre super hero movies.

Kneisen.Nilsen on Sep 24, 2013


And I wish they would stop remaking Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice, Beau Geste, etc....etc...etc...

leemoder on Sep 24, 2013


Well Superman Returns worked off the original Donner movies and we see how that turned out. 😛 I like the reboots as long as they are good and many of the old movies were made before they really adapted the movies to the comic books instead of the other way around.

DarthDiggler on Sep 24, 2013


Silly justification for crappy writing...I agree with him to some degree but why would that bother Superman so immediately to the point he's on his knees crying? Zod was about to kill everyone in sight so in a sense he should have felt relieved that he stopped him in his tracks before he could destroy the world with his bare hands. I believe the scene where he is standing with his mother over his father's grave at the end would have been a better place for him to express his thoughts on killing a person which would hint to the audience that he is somewhat bothered by his actions having him contemplating if there was another way he could have handled Zod and the destruction of Metropolis.

BinaryChaos on Sep 24, 2013


Superman has super emotions.

Phillip Gockel on Sep 24, 2013



BinaryChaos on Sep 24, 2013


I always though it was a combination of being forced to kill. . . which he did not like because of his morals. . . and the fact that he had to kill a Kryptonian. To think he was the last of his kind only to later find out he might not be alone and then have to kill that person must have been emotional. Just my opinion

Diggy381 on Sep 24, 2013


I understand what you are saying but I find it odd for him to get emotional that quickly over a mass murderer if anything it would have been more understandable for the gravity of what he has done to sink in later I mean since he reacted that way so quickly on screen I can only imagine how much of a mess he'll be in the sequel when people turn against him and having Batman knock some sense into him.

BinaryChaos on Sep 24, 2013


Dude. He was the last Kryptonian. Maybe think a little before commenting. To Supe's knowledge, and ours, Zod would have kept killing every single human being on the planet if given the chance. So Supe had to choose, Mankind, or Krypton. THAT was what the finishing blow truly represented. He knew if he killed him, that would be the end of ever meeting another Kryptonian, but if he didn't, than humanity becomes extinct. He chose to fight for the side of humans, which was why that scene was so meaningful.

dvt on Sep 24, 2013


What you said sound so ridiculous and I think you are over analyzing what I just said. Have you forgotten the scene towards the end where Superman and Zod were on the ship with Zod warning him not to destroy the ship or the hope of their race is destroyed? Guess what Superman did he destroyed the control panel of the ship having it crash down on earth destroying all the embryos that were inside it and in that same time Superman replied to Zod that Krypton had it's chance. That doesn't sound like a guy that wants to be with his "people". The whole movie contradicts itself. If anything Superman cared about was where he came from and he got that knowledge from his father so anything beyond that didn't matter to him apparently! I don't understand why anyone would cry over a mass murderer even if he's the last link to your race. Zod can never be trusted and you'll never know when he'll turn his back on you as you've seen from the opening of the film.

BinaryChaos on Sep 24, 2013



YoMomma on Sep 24, 2013


Exactly. Critics like this guy need to just STFU. For gods sakes, STOP dissecting this movie and wasting your time on what you think is a well-written argument to support your reasoning. If you dont like it, then just say it and move on. The essence of who and what superman is was there. Stop whining about minor imperfections!

Such heroic nonsense on Sep 24, 2013


My biggest problem with the scene came not from the fact that Superman killed Zod, but from the sloppy editing that made it unclear as to whether or not Zod killed the innocent family.

Pendy16 on Sep 24, 2013


Hmmm they seemed alive to me.

DarthDiggler on Sep 24, 2013


It cuts straight from a far-shot where they are barely visible (with laser approaching) to the crack of the neck... and never cuts back to the safe family. Could have been edited much better, as it could be seen as his scream being because of the family's death.

Pendy16 on Sep 24, 2013


The scream was because he was forced to kill Zod.

David Diaz on Sep 25, 2013


I don't see what the big deal is. What superman did to Zod in Superman II was worse. In 2 he takes away his powers and then kills him by throwing him down a hole. He didn't need to kill him at that point he was mortal and could be placed in jail. In MOS he had to kill him because Zod would never stop and there would be no place to contain him.

doasis23 on Sep 24, 2013


Precisely. I think people forget... He's also killed in the comics. That was just a no win situation.

Quanah on Sep 24, 2013


Its funny that even with this statement from Goyer, shedding some light on the subject, people will still continue to bash the movie, rewrite their own version, give endless statements of what would have made it better and blah f-ing blah.

Such heroic nonsense on Sep 24, 2013


I don't have a problem with the breaking of the neck. I actually like it. Can someone please explain to me why Supes can't fly to the moon in this MOS universe? Because he could do it in the other movies...

Isildur_of_Numenor on Sep 24, 2013


Yeah this is odd as he and Zod fight in space and destroy a Bruce Enterprises satellite, so it made me wonder as well.

Fidel Reyes on Sep 24, 2013


For me, this act was the final kick in the nuts after being bored from the last hour of repetitive action and unexciting story choices. This set up of the family in danger was contrived and didn't work emotionally for the viewer, or at least this viewer... Superman has just apparently witnessed thousands dying in the destruction of Metropolis without reacting - without anyone reacting(!) - then this one family is at risk and we are supposed to care? Or it make sense when Superman shows that he cares? Also if Superman can break his neck, he can injure him. Why is there action scene after action scene where they keep fighting without consequence? Didn't anyone see the Matrix sequels? This sort of action is boring.

SV7 on Sep 24, 2013


Way to blow your own "spoiler warning" by putting the spoiler in the title of the article...

Andre on Sep 27, 2013

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