Zack Snyder Talks the Massive Destruction and Death Count in ‘Man of Steel’

The filmmaker explains why he wanted the final battle between Superman and Zod to have a mythological resonance.

Zack Snyder defends the death count in Man of Steel
Zack Snyder defends the death count in Man of Steel
While some fans can't stop talking about last week's announcement that Ben Affleck is playing Batman in Man of Steel 2 (a.k.a. Batman vs. Superman), there are other folks who are still upset over the incredibly high death count in Man of Steel.

In fact, BuzzFeed went so far as to bring in an analyst, who estimated that the fictional death count would be over 129,000 people in that Metropolis fight sequence alone. Director Zack Snyder was recently asked to comment about the alarmingly high death toll, saying that he wanted this important moment to have a mythological tone.

"I wanted the movie to have a mythological feeling. In ancient mythology, mass deaths are used to symbolize disasters. In other countries like Greece and Japan, myths were recounted through the generations, partly to answer unanswerable questions about death and violence. In America, we don't have that legacy of ancient mythology. Superman is probably the closest we get. It's a way of recounting the myth."

It isn't known how this sequence, which cost hundreds of thousands of fictional lives, will come into play during Batman vs. Superman, which also stars Henry Cavill as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Laurence Fishburne as Daily Planet editor Perry White, and Diane Lane as Martha Kent. The sequel is scheduled to begin production next year, with Warner Bros. issuing a July 17, 2015 release date.

Regardless of the criticism over the death toll, Man of Steel has taken in just under $650 million worldwide from a $225 million budget. Maybe its part of what draws Bruce Wayne into the story. Maybe someone important to him died in the rubble, and now he's seeking Kal-El out for revenge! It could happen!

Man of Steel was released June 14th, 2013 and stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff. The film is directed by Zack Snyder.

Sources: The Japan Times

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Comments (77)

  1. Mr.K

    @redcameraman "The action in "Superman Returns" felt right and enough for me (yeah, you heard me correct), and THAT movie felt like a true Superman film while using today's technology in my opinion. Oh, by the way, another thing that got me lost in "Man Of Steel" is that Superman is suppose to SAVE many people, and NOT cause SO much destruction and supposedly cause SO many death tolls without somehow REALIZING it. It makes "Superman Returns" look like a better and more entertaining movie for me (in fact, I'll give it a higher rating right now)."

    OH. MY. F*CKING. GOD! Again with this argument! Look, the action in Superman Returns was mediocre. Say what you want about Returns but everyone knows that the action in Returns was mediocre and we never got a fight between Superman and Lex Luthor. All that film did was just pay homage to the Donner films instead of being it's own thing and to try something new with it. In Man Of Steel... HOLY SH*T! It tried something new with it and was a major improvement over Returns. We get to see Superman struggle to find a way to be a hero an in the end, he needs to makes tough choices that not only would damage him emotionally but to keep the people on Earth safe like snapping Zod's neck because if he didn't, HE WOULD HAVE KILLED MORE PEOPLE THAT HE WAS TRYING TO SAVE! As for the too much destruction and death... Again, it is supposed to be a realistic Superman film on how an alien-god being lands on Earth and if another alien-god like being comes to Earth and fights on Earth will all the destruction and death, how would Earth react to. This is how MOS presents this as of 2 alien beings that have so much power that can cause a lot of goddamn destruction into our planet because they have powers beyond human understanding and we will never know how powerful these beings can be. Superman may be a hero and needs to save people but as a hero, you need to make choices that aren't good but they're necessary for the greater good like again, snapping Zod's neck to save the family that were almost killed by Zod's laser beam. It was not a right choice but he had to do it and it hurts him on the inside because Zod is his last relative to Krypton.

    Say what you want but MOS Is way superior than Returns in terms of stor, action, development and emotions.

    2 years agoby @mr-kFlag

  2. Mieko_Siede

    @redcameraman Well you are entitled to your opinion. If you feel Superman Returns was a superior film next to Man of Steel, you can have that. For me, however, what happened in the broad scope of Man of Steel was more about the bigger picture. A high death tole versus the entire world, which was next. He could not have plausibly saved everyone, no matter how SUPER he is. He didn't save individuals, he saved the world from what could have been our complete and utter end. The salvation of the whole outweighed the lives of the some. But, again, your opinion is your opinion and my observation is mine.

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  3. T. King (Red Camera Man)

    @mieko-siede: The action in "Superman Returns" felt right and enough for me (yeah, you heard me correct), and THAT movie felt like a true Superman film while using today's technology in my opinion. Oh, by the way, another thing that got me lost in "Man Of Steel" is that Superman is suppose to SAVE many people, and NOT cause SO much destruction and supposedly cause SO many death tolls without somehow REALIZING it. It makes "Superman Returns" look like a better and more entertaining movie for me (in fact, I'll give it a higher rating right now).

    2 years agoby @redcameramanFlag

  4. Mieko_Siede

    @mr-k Not a problem. Personally, I don't see what's so hard to comprehend.

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  5. Mr.K

    @mieko-siede God, at last. Someone that understands the reason for Superman breaking Zod's neck in the climax. Thank you man!

    2 years agoby @mr-kFlag

  6. Mieko_Siede

    @bawnian-dexeus I knew you'd agree good sir!

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  7. Mieko_Siede

    @redcameraman However you view it, there was meaning to the combative last act of Man of Steel. Zod looked at Earth as a means to an end. He even monologued his ambitions as he mourned the loss of his comrades to the Phantom Zone once again. Superman destroyed the one means he had of restoring Krypton on Earth's terrain. He was responsible for his people being warped through a black hole having provided the technology. When he destroyed the ship it was clear as Zod was on his knees agonizing that Superman thought he was subdued by the loss. It was until the inflections of his voice hardened into aggression that he knew there was no reasoning with him. Zod lashed out at him in fury and the battle ensued over the city of Metropolis. Zod gave him no other choice when he told him, "The only way this ends is that either you die...or I do.". That in itself told not only Superman, but the audience how the rest of that was going to play out. They battled as gods would taking to the skies and in the process wrecking havoc on the city below them. It was hard fought where on one hand Clark was adapted to a majority of his abilities and Zod was using them in their rawest form. His emotions bested him when he mistakingly discovered he had heat vision as well. And once he had collected himself, he honed it in. They fought above and beyond the atmosphere. Bare in mind, you have a warrior hell bent on killing the son of Jor-El who knows only war. And then you have a farm boy with 33 years of built anxiety. It was all out aggression that took place at a time of climax. Zod wasn't easily killed by any means. That wasn't easy. By the time they tumbled into the train station both characters were gassed out. And it happened that Clark/Superman, was on top and barely restraining him. In that moment of passed dialogue between them, however brief, it was a given that Zod wanted that to be his end. He wanted to go out in a blaze if he had to. He had just about conceded. He was going to give Superman an impossible choice. He could watch as the people he was desperately trying to protect died. Remember, however restrained there was still resistance. They were still evenly matched. There wasn't going to be any flying him anywhere. It's combat. Or he was going to turn Superman into a killer. He really had no other options beside that. He wasn't fighting to kill Zod and the notion hadn't even struck him until the moment was pressed upon him. He pleaded with him not to make him do it. Zod knew he was at an end but he was going to break him in his final act. And he did. He left Clark stained. It wasn't that the fact you have to immovable object clinched together that made breaking Zod's neck difficult, but it was the impossible choice he was faced with.

    Superman had not only broken the link between the terraforming machine and it's sync device. He destroyed all the embryos in the ship Zod manned. He provided the technology to send the Kryptonians back into the Phantom Zone. As Zod said, he'd taken everything from him. What in that causes confusion? It was really a lot of cause and effect that played into that. And just when everything seemed to calm and it seemed over, the only obstacle that remained was Zod. The calm before the storm if you will. Superman breaking his neck served it's purpose both to the character who is now torn with his decision and the audience when the shock of its abruptness caused a simultaneous gasp to echo in the viewing room. The damage to Metropolis and its structures had nothing to do with what they were each trying to inflict on one another. It was more symbolic of, "now you see something else exists. You see what they can do. We have to be cautious. We need to now build strategy for the next impending visit should this ever be brought down on us again. Now that we see a man of such capability is out there, what could happen if just one of him should get mad at us? Can we trust such a man?". And I think they will build on that in the continuation of the sequel. As many of the members said on this site, it is, really if you think about it critique aside, how it would have happened if that sort of thing did exist. No matter how you look at it, there wasn't much else Superman could have done. Or maybe, should this have gone in the direction of Superman Returns with just a little more action but ultimately turn into another homage to the Donner films?

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  8. T. King (Red Camera Man)

    @bawnian-dexeus: Should've done it better though.

    @skywise and @mieko-siede: I really would've preferred the original ending that Nolan was more into. I was NOT impressed by the whole non-stop 'action-y' part during the 3rd act of the movie; the story just felt suddenly lost and out of nowhere throughout all of that, and I kept getting rather MORE confused and NOT entertained as much as I hoped I would. Oh, and the fact that all those action-packed sequences WERE...F* the theater (with the 3D version being even MORE intense). If I ever wrote the script and want to put in cool action sequences, then I would at least have MEANING and UNDERSTANDING to it all. Oh, and one more thing that got me off guard while first seeing the film (SPOILER ALERT): Superman killing Zod by just BREAKING HIS NECK. Wow...all that massive destruction and non-stop action for 30-40 minutes JUST to lead up to that final moment: Zod getting SO easily killed after all that TREMENDOUS property damage throughout Metropolis? Enough said.

    2 years agoby @redcameramanFlag

  9. Raoul Duke

    It's not the body count that bothers me. It's how nonchalant Snyder is about the body count. Joss Whedon at least spent 30 seconds on the idea of New York being completely demolished. In Man of Steel, Metropolis is seemingly obliterated, but the final scene puts everyone back at the Daily Planet and everything seems hunky-dory. It takes you out of the movie. Metropolis desperately needed a rebuild and I think Snyder/Goyer really blew it when they didn't even acknowledge it.

    Of course, the same is true with so many films. But those films aren't Superman films and I don't care as much about them.

    2 years agoby @raoulduke33Flag

  10. Sean

    @jasdjqs I completely agree.

    2 years agoby @themoviefanaticFlag

  11. Mka47

    good! If you want to make a realistic as possible superman movie, where a handful of god-like people are throwing each other through buildings, there is going to be collateral damage

    2 years agoby @mka47Flag

  12. justinishulk

    @jasdjqs agreed with u 1m%

    2 years agoby @justinishulkFlag

  13. jasdjqs

    I have no problem with what happen in the movie. Lets be real for a sec. that is as close as to what will happen if gods fight in a close matter. if you think that no one dieds in the comic you are sadly mistaken.

    2 years agoby @jasdjqsFlag

  14. Fry_3000

    In man of steel 2 I mean

    2 years agoby @Fry-3000Flag

  15. Fry_3000

    I was told that the massive destruction of metropolis is how lex Luthor is introduced and becomes wealthy by re building metropolis

    2 years agoby @Fry-3000Flag

  16. Mieko_Siede

    @bawnian-dexeus That's my ultimate goal as well, to move my works into film. Into other forms of media. And yet for me, my passion is to tell stories.

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  17. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @mieko-siede My goal is film making. The book is just part of the plan.

    2 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  18. Mieko_Siede

    @bawnian-dexeus One thing I can tell you is persistence is key. It was a career goal I'd had from elementary school. To actually be able to do what I love is definitely it's own reward.

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  19. Ken451

    No mythology they have the trademark for Wonder Woman why would they want to build a legend of death?!

    2 years agoby @Ken451Flag

  20. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @mieko-siede At the time I started with it, the main focus was the vampire vs. werewolf lore. Since then, I've been messing with the mythology of it all. With school and college I never got the time and writer's block was a real problem .

    2 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  21. OhhmeohhMy

    This movie was epic and great. It was dark and boulder. And yes it had a death count. Even superman can't be perfect. And I like that idea. They Humanize him. They made him relatable. So this movie great in its own right.

    2 years agoby @OhhmeohhMyFlag

  22. Mieko_Siede

    @bawnian-dexeus Oh yeah? What's it about?

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  23. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @mieko-siede Very nice. I'll check it out. I'm trying to get back to writing one of mine that has been on a 5 year hiatus.

    2 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  24. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @skywise The beauty is that Johns managed to address the Aquaman jokes and reduce them to ash in the first volume.

    2 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  25. skywise

    @bawnian-dexeus I have heard that aquaman was a really good title I need to check it out. who would have ever thought that he would be one of the better comics? I was always one that was quick to make fun of Aqua but it seems like they are finally doing him justice.

    2 years agoby @skywiseFlag

  26. Mieko_Siede


    You can follow that link to my personal site.

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  27. Mieko_Siede

    @bawnian-dexeus Also working on a few things to secure movie rights for the series.

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  28. Mieko_Siede

    @bawnian-dexeus Yes, I'm an author but I also do illustrations for book covers and currently working on some mocks for a children's book for my publisher. As far as my next book, it's the first of a fantasy series entitled, Neuralian Chronicles--The Siede set to arrive at stores Feb. 2014.

    2 years agoby @mieko-siedeFlag

  29. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @mieko-siede Nice. You a publisher? Author?

    2 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

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