“There’s no way you can do this”: Christopher Nolan Warned Zack Snyder for 1 Pivotal Man of Steel Scene That Was Despised by Superman Writer

Christopher Nolan wasn’t pleased by Man of Steel’s ending, while Mark Waid, the man behind ‘Superman: Birthright’ was actually incensed with the result.

“There’s no way you can do this”: Christopher Nolan Warned Zack Snyder for 1 Pivotal Man of Steel Scene That Was Despised by Superman Writer


  • In 2013, Zack Snyder established the DCEU framework with Man of Steel, starring Henry Cavill and written by David S. Goyer.
  • The film aimed to redefine Superman’s portrayal by introducing a realistic twist. However, Christopher Nolan, the director of The Dark Knight trilogy, initially disapproved of the divisive ending in Man of Steel.
  • His artistic integrity was clashed by the film’s planned ending, in which General Zod (Michael Shannon) was killed by Superman (Henry Cavill).
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Back in 2013, Zack Snyder laid down the basic framework of the DCEU and set it in motion. Starring Henry Cavill and written by David S. Goyer, Man of Steel gave a new dimension to the iconic Big Blue. Their ambitious goal was to redefine Superman’s cinematic portrayal, stripping away the conventional superhero tropes and introducing a realistic, gritty twist. However, sometimes pushing boundaries means stepping on a few toes.


Christopher Nolan, the revered director of the iconic The Dark Knight trilogy, who produced Snyder’s $670.1 million film, initially wasn’t pleased with the divisive ending in which General Zod (Michael Shannon) was killed by Clark Kent. Known for his meticulous dedication to detail, Nolan’s involvement with the DC cinematic universe serves as an indicator of his artistic integrity. Little did we know that his moral code would clash with Man of Steel’s planned ending. 

Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel
Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel

Also read: Superman: Legacy – James Gunn Won’t Repeat Same Mistake That Turned DC Fans Against Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel


Why Christopher Nolan Wasn’t Pleased With Man Of Steel’s Ending

The ending of Henry Cavill‘s Man of Steel has received a lot of attention. The extent to which General Zod (Michael Shannon) and Superman fight levels Metropolis has dominated the conversation. Even though that creates a fantastic action sequence, it also begs the question of Superman’s accountability for the unspoken deaths of Metropolis residents caught up in the mayhem. Zack Snyder, Christopher Nolan, and writer David S. Goyer all had different opinions on that pivotal fight. 

In an interview with the Empire Magazine podcast (The Playlist), Snyder and Goyer disclosed that General Zod was originally intended to be returned to the Phantom Zone. The former shared:

“But David, Chris and I had long talks about it, and I said that I really feel like we should kill Zod, and that Superman should kill him. The ‘Why?’ of it for me was that if was truly an origin story, his aversion to killing is unexplained… I wanted to create a scenario where Superman, either he’s going to see [Metropolis’ citizens] chopped in half, or he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.”

Henry Cavill in Man of Steel
Henry Cavill in Man of Steel

Goyer agreed with Snyder’s concept as well, but Nolan remained a stumbling block. The Dawn of the Dead director added:


“[Chris] originally said, ‘There’s no way you can do this.’ After checking in with DC Comics about the change, to which they responded positively, Goyer was spurred forward. I came up with this idea of heat vision and these people about to die, and I wrote the scene, gave it to Chris, and he said, ‘Okay you’ve convinced me.’ ”

While Goyer and Snyder eventually convinced Nolan to agree, Superman: Birthright writer Mark Waid was not actually happy with the film’s outcome.

Also read: “The movie would be a little bit longer”: Zack Snyder Didn’t Include the Most Crucial Watchmen Scene to Include His Favorite Sequence in the Movie

Superman: Birthright Writer’s Views on Man of Steel Ending 

Michael Shannon
Michael Shannon as General Zod

The DCEU’s first film, Man of Steel, introduced Warner Bros. to a shared universe of DC characters. The movie’s climax successfully sets up Superman and Clark Kent’s future roles in the DCEU. But it complicates the movie’s ending, in which Superman’s decision to kill Zod goes against the traditional reading of the character as a representation of hope and pure kindness. The film was even panned by Superman Birthright’s writer Mark Waid. He wrote a critical review on Thrillbent (via Cinema Blend):


“Some crazy guy in front of us was muttering ‘Don’t do it…don’t do it…DON’T DO IT…’ and then Superman snapped Zod’s neck and that guy stood up and said in a very loud voice, ‘THAT’S IT, YOU LOST ME, I’M OUT,’ and his girlfriend had to literally pull him back into his seat and keep him from walking out and that crazy guy was me.”

Also read: David Corenswet Superman Will Replace Ben Affleck’s Batman as Nick Fury of DCU – Theory

Screen Rant claims that Superman killing Zod is one of the most divisive plot points in Man of Steel. Drawing from Superman’s numerous DC Comics adventures, viewers believed that Clark did not need to murder someone in order to save Earth’s inhabitants. His choice to kill Zod was criticized because he is supposed to be the epitome of optimism, hope, and pure goodness. 

Still, with a $668 million global box office haul, Man of Steel is now the ninth highest-grossing movie of 2013. 


Watch Man of Steel on Netflix & Max.


Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1655

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1600 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.