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David S. Goyer Discusses 'Man of Steel's' Controversial Ending

The movie's writer shares his expanded thoughts on the polarizing moment and what it means for Superman.

*Obviously contains Man of Steel spoilers*

Man of Steel's conclusion with General Zod has been the subject of a lot of heated debate (and that's putting it lightly). Since the film's release, Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder and David S. Goyer have all spoken about the shocking moment, but now writer David S. Goyer is giving even more information on the scene. Speaking at the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters' Lecture, Goyer shared his thoughts on the no kill rule and why he believes Kal had to take Zod's life.

"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.

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.

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Additionally, Goyer states the action will indeed have a lasting impact on Clark.

"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."

In case you're wondering, the Man of Steel blu-ray/DVD will come out November 12th.

Source: Digital Spy

242 Comments

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Deranged Midget

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Edited By Deranged Midget

Nice detailing on Clark's limitations in both his powers and regards to the situation.

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Lvenger

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Edited By Lvenger

Damn it Goyer, why'd you have to raise this topic back from the grave? No matter how you justify it, Superman never takes a life under any circumstances. You betray that and you betray his very morality and the ethical compass that makes him human. If Goyer thought Superman needed that for Superman to have his no kill rule, that betrays a lack of understanding behind Superman's character.

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gmanfromheck

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So basically they sorta wrote themselves into a corner? There was no other way to deal with Zod in the movie?

And it's okay it happened because he technically wasn't Superman yet?

How about, no.

Those that want to tell me I'm wrong, please, don't bother. I've heard it all already. Also, read the incredible book I keep going on and on about:

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z3ro180

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@lvenger: I agree. Also why the fu£& did goyer say their superman can't fly to the moon ? Did he forget the part where superman is fighting Zod in space and also he throughs a spaceshop into space. Jesus I really liked Man of Steel but god Goyer has no idea how to write superman.

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z3ro180

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Edited By z3ro180

@g_man: Your right. Ha ha bet you weren't expecting that. Through really is that book good ?

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rav4

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Oh joy, here we go again. And here I thought we'd seen the last of people b**ching about the ending.

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buttersdaman000

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What does he mean Superman can't fly to the moon? Why not?

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Fallschirmjager

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Edited By Fallschirmjager

sigh...this again.

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Mbecks14

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The neck snap nearly ruined the entire movie for me. I just pretend it didn't happen.

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Lvenger

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@z3ro180: It was a disappointment for me and I was expecting a bit more. A big thing about Morrison's All Star Superman and DC Retroactive: Superman The 80s was that Superman always finds another way. But this is going to get out of hand soon with both camps on the controversy making their case on why killing/not killing Zod was right.

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Wolverine008

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Samuel_Simmons

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The ending was so forced, why didn't he just cover zod's eyes with his hand? Feel like supes would definitely make that sacrifice. And he's not able to fly to the moon? that's bull. They could've flown to space, get too close to the sun or something and get caught in its gravitational pull, supes tries to save zod, and then zod doesn't let him or something. Or zod goes back to the phantom zone with everyone else somehow. The point is he didn't like having to follow the no kill rule and made a seen where he did just to say " I can do whatever I want "

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DarthShap

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@g_man:

They did not "sorta wrote themselves into a corner". Goyer is saying that it was 100% deliberate, that they wrote the corner so that he would have to kill...and it is completely idiotic.

Then he says this :

"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."

First of all, you really do not need to take a life to realize killing is not OK. Superman is not a sociopath.

Secondly, what is this supposed to mean? That next time he is in this exact same situation he won't do the same thing? That he will let those people die? No, chances are, it means that the writers will not be putting him in this exact same situation where he has to kill again...which makes the entire scene completely pointless.

And the whole "I have too much integrity to write a scene just to be shocking" is complete BS. The guy wrote one Superman story in his life and it was about him renouncing his American citizenship (and I am not American).

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z3ro180

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Edited By z3ro180

@lvenger: I like the over all plot and tone of the movie but there was a lot that did not need to be in it. Like that monkey skull miguffin it's mentioned like 4 times by Zod but never mentione to superman once. Oh and the bit with the Superman and the genreal and the girl saying that supes in hot. That joke should not have happend and to have it straight after a great scene where supes screams is just bad.

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Fallschirmjager

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@lvenger said:

@z3ro180: It was a disappointment for me and I was expecting a bit more. A big thing about Morrison's All Star Superman and DC Retroactive: Superman The 80s was that Superman always finds another way. But this is going to get out of hand soon with both camps on the controversy making their case on why killing/not killing Zod was right.

I'm all ready barely resisting the urge to start replying and debating people.

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Lvenger

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@z3ro180: That scene did not add to the humour of the film honestly and it made Superman seem more like a jerk than hot.

@fallschirmjager I'm one of them aren't I? :P

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Zamorian79

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It doesn't bother me that Superman had to kill. The cheap thing here is that it's a rip-off of a HUGE defining moment for Wonder Woman in 2005.

SPOILER for Infinite Crisis.

In a recent series, Maxwell Lord was controlling Superman. Wonder Woman fought against Superman and save Batman's life, then she confront Maxwell Lord. Using her lasso of truth, the villian said that he wouldn't stop controlling Superman and that the only way to stop him was killing him, just like Zod in this movie. What a rip-off!

At least Goyer didn't kill Superman's parents in the crime alley.

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Fallschirmjager

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Edited By Fallschirmjager

@zamorian79: That is probably the only thing that bothered me, as it will take away some uniqueness to Wonder Women - who raised in a warrior society, is very much willing to take life if its for the greater good and won't think twice or regret.

But given WB's pathetic hesitancy to actually do a WW movie, who knows what they're going to do.

@lvenger: Yep.

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Emequious_Swerve

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@lvenger: Uh, Superman has killed several times, hasn't he??

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AlKusanagi

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Edited By AlKusanagi

Translation: Warner Brothers is convinced grimdark-edgy sells so they wanted me to make this just like Batman Begins.

I can't wait for Wonder Woman to finally come out and find out the reason she left the island is because she murdered the rest of her society in a PMS-fueled rage that was beyond her control. Because angst, y'all!

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Lvenger

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@emequious_swerve: I don't want to get too into this but aside from his GA portrayal, some SA dickery and Doomsday, all the other times Superman has killed can be chalked down to bad writing IMO.

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z3ro180

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w0nd

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The ending was so forced, why didn't he just cover zod's eyes with his hand? Feel like supes would definitely make that sacrifice. And he's not able to fly to the moon? that's bull. They could've flown to space, get too close to the sun or something and get caught in its gravitational pull, supes tries to save zod, and then zod doesn't let him or something. Or zod goes back to the phantom zone with everyone else somehow. The point is he didn't like having to follow the no kill rule and made a seen where he did just to say " I can do whatever I want "

Cover his eyes? Clark knocked back two kryptonians with his heat vision that were on him, I don't think his hand would simply just stop it lol. Either way though what's done is done. They wrote themselves into a corner, they destroyed the phantom zone, there is no prison on earth that could hold them, and if he can't fly to the moon he can't fly to the sun....

wrote themselves into a corner

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Emequious_Swerve

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@lvenger said:

@emequious_swerve: I don't want to get too into this but aside from his GA portrayal, some SA dickery and Doomsday, all the other times Superman has killed can be chalked down to bad writing IMO.

The what does it matter? The movie is also perceived as an alternate universe. I mean generally every super hero has the "no killing" code, however in the movies, almost all of them have some sort of body count whether its intentional or not.

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reactor

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It's amazing how the general opinion of Man of Steel changes from site to site. Also amazing how nobody noticed that Superman is willing to kill and has killed a few times in the past. That's not even going near Superman II's psychopathic killings that nobody seems to have any problems with.

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Fallschirmjager

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@reactor: That's because they always point out "Well Dick Donner's cut they didn't die!"...(despite the fact that it came out 30+ years later :p)

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Kiltro95

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Lvenger

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@lvenger said:

@emequious_swerve: I don't want to get too into this but aside from his GA portrayal, some SA dickery and Doomsday, all the other times Superman has killed can be chalked down to bad writing IMO.

The what does it matter? The movie is also perceived as an alternate universe. I mean generally every super hero has the "no killing" code, however in the movies, almost all of them have some sort of body count whether its intentional or not.

And that's what I don't like about this kind of approach. Especially with the Big 3 heroes who have particular no kill codes. Not taking that into regards of the character doesn't make for a full character portrayal.

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BR_Havoc

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Edited By BR_Havoc

@g_man: I 100 percent agree with you G-Man. Goyer here went for the laziest approach and I truly believe that he and Snyder thought that to make Superman appeal to todays demographic they had to go the edgy route and that is what spawned the ending.

I could be over thinking it though because didn't Goyer write Ghost Rider Spirt of vengeance right there we should of known he understands nothing about the characters he is writing.

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jaybefre

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@g_man: Never even heard about this book. Will definitely be picking this up! Thanks!

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superior_prime_maybe

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@g_man: Yes. i agree with you completely.

Its not just that he killed. Its how he did it. That killing was not justified.
Im kinda sick of how everyone wants the story where superman gets corrupted. (al though i admit Injustice was kickass!!!)

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Black_Claw

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Must we continue beating a dead horse? What's done is done and the least we all can do is hope that future Superman movies improve in terms of writing (even though I loved Man of Steel.).

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Outside_85

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Comicbook logic doesnt apply to movies.

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The_Vein

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I didn't like Superman killing Zod, but, to be fair, nothing in the movie indicated that Clark had any problem killing people--we're judging Superman by his comic persona but the movie character never shows him having a particularly strong regard for life, he let his dad die in a tornado so no one would know he was superpowerful and smashed about a thousand buildings fighting people.

I feel like the ending was cheap because it counted on people to know Superman didn't kill while not doing to work through the movie to show how much he cares about life and how he would do anything to not kill anyone. I'm also really annoyed that in the Batman movies we had a guy who sticks to his "no killing" rule no matter what, but Superman gives in right away in what seems like a desperate attempt to make Superman "cool" or "dark".

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Commander_Kane

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God you people are annoying. Maybe Supes should have let him kill those innocent people, then have a picnic with him in Central Park. Then pick daisies after. He was backed into a wall where neither decision was right, so he chose the less wrong.

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bloggerboy

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If The Avengers can get away with a prison cell that can hold Loki and Thor (possibly) long enough to kill them then Man of Steel could have done the same thing.

The movie is supposed to be the beginning for the DC cinematic verse. So where were the Green Lanterns with their sciencells orbiting a red sun?

Oh right we had to see Superman's origin told for the millionth time.

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Smart_Dork_Dude

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@lvenger: Yeah, explain these then

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Also you can't tell me THESE instances would end with the person being ALIVE!

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So yeah. There are a lot of instances where he killed. I have no problem with it. It made sense within the confines of the movie and it's going to have lasting effects on him. That's all that's required.

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AllStarSuperman

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Edited By AllStarSuperman

@the_vein: batman let ras al ghul die, batman threw harvey dent of a building. He kills.

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SynCig

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@g_man: I just ordered that book. Really looking forward to reading it. I agree with you completely about the subject at hand. The writers wrote themselves into that unnecessary corner. I personally feel that making Superman kill defies a part of the character that I love so much. He should be the moral compass of the DCU and he can't be that after Man of Steel.

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movieartman

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If The Avengers can get away with a prison cell that can hold Loki and Thor (possibly) long enough to kill them then Man of Steel could have done the same thing.

The movie is supposed to be the beginning for the DC cinematic verse. So where were the Green Lanterns with their sciencells orbiting a red sun?

Oh right we had to see Superman's origin told for the millionth time.

ACTUALLY THEY COULD NOT, the kryptonians in mos are VASTLY more powerful than thor and loki in the films

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movieartman

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Edited By movieartman

They could've flown to space

they did, zod flew right back!

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superior_prime_maybe

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@movieartman: He would have kept his arm over his eyes. Fly him off. Clark was able to over power that gravity machine, you dont say he couldnt over power zod. And His first instinct was to snap his neck? He didnt even try anything else. If this was a batman movie, batman would taken out a nifty gadget and found out a 3rd option. Thats what we would want and thats what we would have been given. But with superman we want him fall.

And i did not mean justified in the terms of the movie scene but in terms of the story telling.

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Outside_85

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@superior_prime_maybe: I am going to point out Superman didn't overpower the world engine, he just tanked the pressure till it let up and let himself get an extra boost to fly into it.

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girzaznot

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The majority of people who saw this movie have no regard for comic book ideologies or the fact that comic books exist. Non-comic book fans, do not care whether or not he killed Zod. As long as people are in the seats, and people buy the dvd/bluray, the folks at Warner Brothers are happy and they all get paychecks.

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w0nd

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@samuel_simmons said:

They could've flown to space

they did, zod flew right back!

people make it sound like zod won't just go back... lol what would he do hold him in a headlock indefinitely?

Try grappling with someone see what happens if they are bent on causing chaos. You can't just hold them forever, even if Zod got tired out, his punches alone could wipe out a city building.

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DarthShap

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@smart_dork_dude:

This is just silly. Everything has happened in comics. There is even a comic book where SuperBOY has to rape some poor girl in order to become SuperMAN. That does not make it good.

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danhimself

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@g_man:

They did not "sorta wrote themselves into a corner". Goyer is saying that it was 100% deliberate, that they wrote the corner so that he would have to kill...and it is completely idiotic.

Then he says this :

"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."

First of all, you really do not need to take a life to realize killing is not OK. Superman is not a sociopath.

Secondly, what is this supposed to mean? That next time he is in this exact same situation he won't do the same thing? That he will let those people die? No, chances are, it means that the writers will not be putting him in this exact same situation where he has to kill again...which makes the entire scene completely pointless.

And the whole "I have too much integrity to write a scene just to be shocking" is complete BS. The guy wrote one Superman story in his life and it was about him renouncing his American citizenship (and I am not American).

completely agree...comic book Superman didn't need to learn that lesson because he was raised by parents that taught him that every life is sacred...not by the dickish Pa Kent in the movie who scolded him for saving a bus full of children