While most of the controversy surrounding the new Batman vs. Superman movie is still the casting of Ben Affleck as the next Dark Knight, the topic that is now being downplayed or forgotten is the fact that Superman took a life at the end of Man of Steel. A topic that until the casting of Affleck was the most controversial decision to have hit DC and Warner Bros handling of comic book movies, Superman killing General Zod at the end of Man of Steel is something that screenwriter David S. Goyer is sort of tired of hearing about.
At the BAFTA and BFI Screenwriters Lecture last night, Goyer addressed the edgy choice to have Superman kill, saying he doesn’t believe in storytelling rules or crutches and didn’t want them existing in the universe he was creating.
“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,”
Goyer’s defense for having Superman kill is going to be watered down by fans still upset over Affleck’s casting, a decision they’ll tie to this one as proof those in charge of DC’s film future aren’t capable of doing the job.
But Goyer has a point and it has nothing to do specifically with his explanation. Goyer is a writer trying to tell a story he has created, which gives him the license to do whatever he wants with said story. Some of the best films have come unconventionally as writers try to go against stereotypes and pre-existing rules to freshen up a product that has been around for almost 100 years.
Do you buy Goyer’s defense for Superman being allowed to kill, or did the ending of Man of Steel turn you off? Let us know in the comments section below.