Sunday, April 10, 2011

Fans React in Horror as Only Other "Superman" Antagonist Anyone has Heard of Cast in "Man of Steel"

Michael Shannon - who may just be the most unironically-intense working actor in Hollywood - has been cast as a (the?) villain in "The Man of Steel;" the Zack Snyder directed Superman movie that Warner Bros. is ram-rodding into theaters to beat-out the "we have to pay Seigel & Schuster's heirs now" train to the station. Surprising absolutely no one, he's NOT playing Toyman, Parasite, Bizarro Brainiac, Metallo or anyone else from Superman's unfortunately-named, oddly-sparse enemy pool; nor is he playing Darkseid - a "New Gods" character that everyone thinks is a Superman villain because DC has been using him as an all-purpose Big Bad for about 30 years now.

Nope, he's General Zod.

For the life of me, I don't know why the prospect of Zod infuriates fans so much. Well... okay, actually I do - it's because Zod isn't important in the comic lore but to "the masses" who only know the Donner movies he's the most well known (okay, ONLY known) Superman antagonist who isn't Lex Luthor, and they resent that. Okay, I get that.

Yeah, I'd like to see one of the more obscure-yet-"important" enemies, but this makes sense from a filmmaking perspective: It gives you the ONE thing people have been demanding of a modern Superman movie - Superhuman fight scenes - without having to have character who is a kinda-generic monster (Parasite) probably too complicated for a one-off or first installment (Brainiac, Bizarro) or possesed of a silly-sounding name (all of them.) I liked the rumors about Metallo, but I also get that having him essentially fight The Terminator brings up that whole "wait, I thought this guy could punch-out The Moon?" problem. In addition, Zod makes thematic sense - the new script (from David Goyer and Nolan brothers) is apparently heavy on a "would the modern world REALLY react to a Superman so positively?" vibe; and having a second all-powerful alien whose evil fits that pretty well.

So... yeah, like everything else in this production it's kinda anticlimactic and not crazy-exciting... but I don't see where all the rage is coming from.


Chris said...

I think the rage is coming from the notion that picking Zod as the villain proves that Hollywood is running severely dry on original ideas. And when they start retreading on classic movies (and mostly failing) that almost everyone remembers fondly, it leaves a stain on the whole thing. Kind of like the remake of Willy Wonka with Depp. Or possibly a Star Trek sequel with Khan.

It is possible that this could be a success like what the Dark Knight did with a reimagined Joker character. But at the same time I think fans don't want to be put into a position to have to pick a favorite Zod. We've seen one good movie with Zod. If we keep getting Superman duds we may not get a chance to see other villains. Which would be a shame.

The Vicious Kind said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Reverend Allan Ironside said...


I don't care. I just want that line in the movie.

Blue Highwind said...

I was hoping the villain was going to be Batman. Too bad.

Kyle said...

They haven't made a good Superman movie yet. I hope, eventually, that someone does.

AlucardsFate said...

Well, if someone rages about this, just tell them that it could have been worse.

It could have been Mr. Mxyzptlk...

Lee said...

Even if they did, they'd change his name so it didn't sound like Mits-l-pit-lick.
Yes, that's how you pronounce his name.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

@ AlucardsFate

Mr. Mxyzptlk would'a been fucking awesome. Other than Brainiac, he's pretty much the only Superman villain I ever liked.

Popcorn Dave said...

Didn't we already know this?

Anyway, yeah, clearly this is about getting some wicked awesome superhero fights on the screen, but you have to admit it's pretty lame that the franchise is still held back by the flawed-but-fun Donner films.

John.E said...

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa.... fans are acually complaining about Zod appearing in a Superman film?

OK, this is news to me

Sarge said...

"[this] proves that Hollywood is running severely dry on original ideas."

Really? THIS proves that?

Smashmatt202 said...

Zod, huh... Well, it's like you said, aside from Lex Luthor, he's the only other Superman villain everyone knows about.

Dave said...

@ Smash I wonder how many people knew about the green goblin or the skrulls or the iron monger, or any of the thor villains before their respective movies?

Nobody was familiar with the RDA before avatar came out. People not being familiar with villains is not an excuse for not including them. it's the film maker's job use the film to make the audience familar with them.

People not being familiar with it is no excuse. Just another example of Snyder yet again falling back on someone else's work instead of making his own damn movie. Of course, given how sucker punch turned out, maybe he realizes that he isn't the creative type.

BTW does anyone find it insanely ironic that Bob has spent several posts (including the previous one) bitching out nolan for having the gall to try and make a Batman movie free of the elements that are most likely to alienate non comic fans? And yet when snyder does it in the most unimaginative way possible, it is somehow acceptible.

I guess I'll have to wait another 10 years or so before my dream of watching superman fight a fleischeresque giant robot on the big screen is made a reality.

Chris Cesarano said...


In this case I think it has to do with familiarity. Only comic book fans really know anything about Iron Man or Thor. Honestly, only thing I knew about Iron Man before was that he fought The Hulk at some point (though is that really significant? Hasn't every major Marvel hero gone toe-to-green-toe with him?). It's probably one of the reasons the film chooses to be more focused on the character development of Tony Stark rather than the villains.

Then again, Batman Begins didn't use villains well known to the mainstream. It was, however, more about Batman than anything, where the villains were a vehicle. For all the regular masses knew, the villains were made up for the film (I mean, the only one that clearly screams Comic Book villain in that film is Scarecrow. The way Rhas Al'Ghul was handled was in a much more grounded manner).

Still, with something like Superman, well, unless you want to keep retreading his origin story it's hard to have an interesting story about him. It doesn't work as well. Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark are interesting because they are regular people in unusual and fantastic circumstances. Once you are a super hero, though, things change. In the case of Superman, well, his whole shtick is "how do I pretend to be a human?" or "How do I love Lois Lane while retaining my secret?"

Maybe it's just me, but that stuff isn't interesting for very long.

Of course, I could be full of crap. It could be that the regular masses don't actually care about who the villain is. They just want a big bad guy to love seeing get his in the end. However, the choice of villain still matters in that they will help create who the hero is.

In which case, Zod could be an excellent choice being another Kryptonian or whatever. Either way, I'm not interested in the film unless the trailer looks good.

Dave said...

@ Chris. People will never become familiar with the villains if they one ever use the same two. Of the 6 superman films including this one, only 1 will not have involved Luthor or Zod. And that one had a cheap stand in for Luthor....and still managed to have superman fight an evil kryptonian.

The reason why superman is so hard to do is because we keep doing the same things.

And again, I've said it before, but zod is a stupid character. There's a reason he is remembered in no medium but film and that reason is named Terrence Stamp. TS is the magic element, not zod. He's like orson wells and Nimoy in Transformers. Their characters were incredibly one dimensional. Their performances are the reason people remember.

I'd love it if they completely dropped the superhero style storytelling for superman. He isn't just a superhero. he's essentially a physical god who actually answers prayers. The angle of how society reacts to the presence of a god and how a man reacts to BEING one is far more ripe fertile storytelling ground than any superman based has ever aspired to.

It gets even better if they intend to bring in the doomsday or darkseid plots as well.

The biblical symbolism writes the damn movie all on its own.

But instead what we'll get is 2 and a half hours of the last 15 minutes of Matrix Revolutions with even more gratuitous slowmo.

Smashmatt202 said...

@ Dave

...Well, Spider-man, Thro, and all those other Marvel movies didn't have well-know pre-existing movies, now did they?

Smashmatt202 said...

I meant to say Thor, but whatever.

Also, I guess it would have been neat to see another new villain that wasn't in a pre-existing movie, but I'm at least glad that the main villain won't be Lex Luthor again.

Dave said...

@ smash.

So because the audience is MORE familiar with superman, that means we have to limit what else they can become familiar with? That makes no sense. If anything, it makes it easier to set up new villains since you don't have to set up the origin story and the universe.

Nick said...

The angle of how society reacts to the presence of a god and how a man reacts to BEING one is far more ripe fertile storytelling ground than any superman based has ever aspired to.

They already did that. Except they called him "Dr. Manhattan."

It gets even better if they intend to bring in the doomsday or darkseid plots as well.

I'd love to see Darkseid on the big screen (if the JL movie ever gets made, he would be the perfect opening baddie), but fuck no to Doomsday.

Dave said...

@ Nick

"They already did that. Except they called him "Dr. Manhattan."

Now imagine that instead of being a subplot, that was the entire movie. And without an annoying antihero character to make the director think he is the main character when he summed up everything his creator hated about the world in one person.

It gets even better if they intend to bring in the doomsday or darkseid plots as well.

I'd love to see Darkseid on the big screen (if the JL movie ever gets made, he would be the perfect opening baddie), but fuck no to Doomsday."

Doomsday himself isn't interesting. But the fallout form it is. the world without superman idea is a really cool idea for a movie. It will never be done properly, of course, but we can dream.

5:36 PM

Arturo said...

I'm optimistic about this because of the talent behind the film, but I'm worried because of the rushed production

Smashmatt202 said...

@ Dave

Well, no, it doesn't. And I'm not saying that they SHOULD pick someone they already know, but....

Eh, screw it, I didn't mean anything by that statement.

superuub1 said...

there is a difference between being out of ideas, which Hollywood is not, and being money hungry. It's like the difference between american game makers and the ones Nintendo is used to working with.

Nintendo at least says it's about making quality solid games even if it is sequels as the game quality comes before the money it makes, though that does factor in if we get more of that game.....damn capcom with Ace Attorney.

anyway the American set is similar to what happens now more often on X-box and Playstation- what game will sell the most that can be made the cheapest? same goes with movies. You get indies and one decent studio like Fox Searchlight for different stuff where that isn't the goal, but most movies are out just to make your wallet lighter so they go with what they know is the one that may catch the most fish.

Jordon said...

First "The Dark Knight," now "Man of Steel."

Anyone up for "The Big Red Cheese" and "The Jolly Green Giant"?

Will said...

I don't think too much rage is at them picking Zod but rather Micheal Shannon playing Zod.

I personally don't see it. However, I'm reserving my rage because I didn't see Heath Ledger playing The Joker and yet he, arguably as always, is the definitive Joker.

Not that I think Micheal Shannon will beat Terence Stamp but I hold out hope that I'm wrong and Shannon will be a great Zod but for now... I'm not exactly happy about Man of Steel (especially after seeing Sucker Punh and hearing Snyder isn't going to stylize Man of Steel like he has with every film before this point).

Jwillx70 said...


He was an extremely excellent Joker. The definitive Joker remains Mark Hamil. The perfect mix of whimsical comedy and sociopathic narcissism. That, and he has held the role the for the longest time span. Similar to how Tom Baker is the man people think of as Doctor Who despite ten other guys officially claiming the role with him.

Will said...


Well, thats why I said arguable. While many comic books fans or animated series fans will have their favorites, the general public now only really considers Heath as the Joker.

Jack Nicholson is still my favorite but, after talking to many people at my school and other average movie goers, its hard to find people who would even consider other Jokers.

Dave Kraft said...

Here's where the rage is coming from:

Yeah...... that guy's NOT Zod. He's a great actor and entertaining to watch, but NOT Zod. Listen to him talk about his casting here. Not happy.

CraftyAndy said...

This gives me the feeling of uninspired as much as Ninja Turtles Three did. Zod really? You have this large line up of villians and even a choice to go the epic route with Doomsday, or Darkside attacking Earth. And you want to do Zod again? And why do people think the original wa so great? He was goofy and that's it.