A Man of Steel by any other ending may have been less controversial.
When Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment unleashed director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel unto the world in June 2013, Superman fans were … surprised. While some found fault with the film’s stop-and-start pacing, its arguably joyless tone, and the general lack of fun that’s often associated with comic book movies, the frequent, excessive violence is what had many viewers squirming in their seats. The biggest jaw-dropper of Man of Steel? Its ending, which found Superman (played by the dashing Henry Cavill) being forced to kill General Zod (Michael Shannon), the Kryptonian who wanted to reform Earth into a new Krypton and serve as its ruler.
The ending of Man of Steel was highly divisive — with some feeling that it was “ridiculous,” others arguing that worked against Superman’s morals, and some stating that it actually made sense in the grand scheme. But the movie could have ended another way.
During a [email protected] panel held on Saturday, July 25, 2020, Man of Steel screenwriter David S. Goyer spoke about the film’s alternate ending, in which Clark Kent didn’t kill General Zod. That ending was meant to serve as a backup in case Goyer and Snyder didn’t want to go through with having Superman commit murder.
“The idea was that Superman would — there was one of those sort of cryopods on the ship that ends up becoming the Fortress of Solitude that he’s able to put Zod back into and then throw out into space,” Goyer told the panel’s host, Backstory Magazine publisher Jeff Goldsmith.
He then admitted that “maybe some people would’ve been happier” with the alternate ending of Man of Steel, which could have significantly altered the public perception of the film. However, there’s an important reason why Goyer and Snyder didn’t play it safe. As Goyer explained, “It felt like a cop-out for the story that we were telling.”
This wasn’t the only scene that didn’t make it into the theatrical cut of Man of Steel. Goyer also shared that he wrote a scene in which a young Clark and his adoptive father Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) go hunting. This would have, according to Goyer, foreshadowed Superman’s murder of General Zod — which he didn’t do willingly.
“Ironically, there was a scene we wrote that didn’t get filmed, in which Jonathan takes young Clark hunting and they kill a deer, and young Clark is just gutted by the act,” said Goyer. “Jonathan says, ‘It’s a powerful thing to take a life, even if you’re forced to take a life.’ That was a scene that didn’t make it into the final movie. We never filmed it.”