So yeah, I saw Man of Steel and am maybe knee deep in the sturm and drang surrounding it. I didn't hate the movie, but the more I think about it, the more I feel it was the result of a wish granted by that twisted Monkey's Paw. "I wish Superman would punch something!" we wished after Superman Returns. The Paw's index finger slowly curled down. "I wish there was a big fight!" The middle finger followed. "Ungh. Superman has a kid? What's with that character development? Wish they didn't do that!" The thumb presses against the dry, leather palm.
Man of Steel is the result of our wishes, twisted by the horrible power of the Paw. There are still two fingers left, two wishes that can be granted at great cost. Those fingers are already trembling - Man of Steel 2 and the Justice League Movie have been fast-tracked for 2014 and 2015 respectively.
According to recent interviews, the whole Killing Zod thing was Snyder's doing. "How can you know you don't like something if you haven't tried it?" is a line I use on my three year old, not one that should be used for iconic characters. If Snyder wanted something to make Superman wake up and say, "No more death at my hands!" maybe he could have used the estimated 129,000 people killed in the fight in Metropolis as the broccoli? Sure, Supes didn't kill all those people (the stompy World Engine did that), but I'm sure a handful of survivors saying, "So remember when you threw Zod through that building? My wife was in there." or "Superman, will you help raise these orphans? Their Mom and Dad were having breakfast at that IHOP." would get him to reconsider the blood on his hands.
With Zod, though, they really wrote themselves into a corner. By not having him get sucked up into the Phantom Zone, they really did leave themselves with no other option but the whole 'it's you or me' thing. That's no excuse, mind you, as they are the ones who set the stage. Even if you agree that just having Zod get sucked into the Phantom Zone with the rest of the Kryptonian Cenobites unsatisfying (although that has allowed Pinhead to keep coming back for years and years), there has to be a better way to solve the Zod Problem than having an iconic character betray ideals 75 years in the making.
- Zod, upon realizing that he has failed in his genetically ordained duty to protect and preserve Krypton, kills himself upon defeat. Superman learns something about duty and zealotry.
- Zod is defeated, but the Phantom Zone rift is still open and he's getting sucked in. Zod pleads with Superman to save him as he's the only other Kryptonian left and all he has to do is using his Kryptonian powers to pull him back... but Superman says, "Yeah, I'm going to be human for the next few seconds" and lets him get sucked away (ala Superman II, the no-fault murder).
- Zod is defeated, but needs to be sent away. Hologram Jor-El is still in the scoutship and can take him, sort of a reverse 'rocket escaping Krypton' deal. Superman gets some closure on saying goodbye to father figures and the hologram and prisoner take off, a ghost and a shell of a man.
- Combine the two above and have Holo Jor-El take Zod into the Phantom Zone, shutting it after them.
- Zod threatens innocents, but instead of four random people, it's the entire world. "So you've taking this planet at your home? Then let's see how you like watching it explode in lava like I watched mine." He then digs down to the center of the Earth, kamikaze style. His powers don't hold up. (Main flaw in this plan is that Metropolis's streets are made out of indestructible bedrock ala Minecraft - why else would the World Engine fail to flatten subways or sewers below?)
And those are changes you can make without re-writing big portions of the movie! The Zod killing scene was bolted on at the end, after all. This is what makes the last two fingers of the Monkey's Paw so terrifying: the sequel and the Justice League movie are being rushed. RUSHED. How long was Man of Steel in production and this was the best they could think of? Get ready for Man of Steel 2: Men of Steel! Louis CK plays a computer programmer/criminal who invents some sort AI in a coal mine that, uh, sticks magnets on people's faces and makes them fight Superman for some reason.