EXCLUSIVE: Mark Waid Talks MAN OF STEEL Ending - SPOILERS GALORE!

It's the final third - particularly the ending - of Man of Steel that has caused the most controversy, and in this exclusive excerpt from an interview with writer Mark Waid he discusses that ending. Nothing but spoilers follow.

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By EdGross - 7/6/2013
Interview conducted by and copyright Edward Gross

It would be difficult to find a more passionate and knowledgeable fan of Superman than writer Mark Waid (author of the classic Superman: Birthright maxi-series that's currently celebrating its 10th anniversary - more about that at the end of this article). Mark was also pretty vocal in his criticisms of Man of Steel, as presented on his blog at Thrillbent.com. Well, VFK editor Ed Gross, no slouch in the Superman department himself, recently sat down for a conversation with Mark regarding MOS, and, in particular, its controversial ending in which (SPOILERS GALORE!) Superman ends up killing General Zod to stop him from murdering innocent people.

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VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Let me start by saying, I must be the biggest Superman whore on the planet, because even though I have many of the complaints that you and a lot of people have had about Man of Steel, I still enjoyed the movie. I don’t know if it was because the action was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, or I just like Henry Cavill as Superman.

MARK WAID: There’s a bunch of X factors, too – again, you can’t make an argument that Superman Returns was a better movie than this by any stretch of the imagination, but I enjoyed it more. And I knew at the time I was enjoying it that everyone was looking at me thinking, "What is wrong with you? You’re a freak!" But I didn’t care, because I just enjoyed it. As I said in my review of Man of Steel, I don’t want to take that away from anybody. I guess the reaction to my review was disappointing to me a little, because while most people seemed to get it, there’s been a reductive aspersion cast on it by a lot of people. More and more I've seen, "Read here why Mark Waid hates Man of Steel." Well, that's not what I said.

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VOICES FROM KRYPTON: See that’s the problem with the Internet - everything is turned into a news story.

MARK WAID: Exactly, and that’s not what I said. I was broken hearted, I was disappointed, I was gutted by that one scene as much as anything else or certainly the last third of the movie, but I also liked a lot of things about it. I even kind of understand why they went that way, so this isn't, "It's not my Superman," or "Why can't it be like the '50s when I was growing up?" It's not that at all. It's more the idea of, man, there's just no heart or charm, especially in that last third of the movie. It's just destruction porn.

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VOICES FROM KRYPTON: When Christopher Reeve played Superman, he put on the costume and the character was essentially fully formed. He knew who he was, he knew why he was here, he had all the confidence in the world and he instantly knew how to react to situations and what to do. But I’m looking at Henry Cavill as this is the first time his version of the character has ever put on the uniform, it’s the first time he’s gaining any understanding of what he is basically, and it’s all new to him. Whereas Reeve's Clark had 10 years training in the fortress with Jor-El, Cavill's had the uniform on for 10 minutes when there’s an invasion from Zod. To me, he represents someone who’s learning how to be Superman. The analogy I used was that someday Chris Pine is going to grow up to be William Shatner in the same way Henry Cavill is going to grow up to be Christopher Reeve.

MARK WAID: Right, but the difference is that in the first Star Trek movie, Chris Pine showed parts of himself that were Shatner-esque. I think that seems to be the overall feeling from a lot of people, that this is the first step. But nobody knew it was going to be a trilogy going in!

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VOICES FROM KRYPTON: No, I don’t view it as a trilogy, I just view it as the first time this dude has put on the costume –

MARK WAID: Right, but if I wanted to see Boy of Steel I would have seen Boy of Steel –and that slips into the category of personal preference rather than intelligent critique. It’s more just to the storyteller. I understand that you want growth and development and stuff, but I just want a little more pay off to that. It reminds me very much of the thing you loathe hearing from freelancers and writers when you’re a publisher or editor, because I get this a lot – every publisher and every editor gets it – you get someone turning in a first issue and it’s kind of there, but nothing big has happened or there’s something missing, and the answer is always, "Wait till you get to issue three." Oh, shut up! "We have to set the stage!" Stop setting the stage and get on with the play. That’s my kneejerk reaction to the point of, well he’s just learning. But that’s not what it was sold as, that’s not what we thought we were getting. We thought we were getting a Superman movie, and we got a Superman in training movie, and maybe that’s part of my disappointment, too; maybe my expectations were forwarded that way, but if that’s the case I don’t think I’m alone.

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VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Like I said, I would be more than happy watching the “big blue Boy Scout" guy; I love that version of the character. While most of the reviews were pretty bad for this movie, the cinema scores are through the roof - people love it! But what concerns me is, are we in a time where this is the only version of the character that can appeal to a mass audience now?

MARK WAID: Actually we’re not, but we’re in a time where the people who are in charge of that character believe that’s the only version that can appeal to a mass audience. That’s where I grit my teeth – again, I’m not the insider I once was, but I still have my ear to the ground. I’ve talked over and over to the people at DC over the last ten years, and I know what WB's feeling is about Superman, which is that he’s stupid, he’s corny and why can’t he be more like Batman? Well, because he’s not Batman, but there’s nothing Hollywood loves more than safe bets. So that certainly always informs the tone and direction that this movie was going to have. We always knew once they got serious about it that it was going to be a darker, more brooding take, but I kind of thought there would be a little wiggle room there and, my hand to God, the first and last words out of my mouth were, before we walked in that theater, was I turned to my girlfriend and said, "Look, my expectations are moderate, I’m good, as long as he doesn’t kill anybody." I swear to God I said that, but in jest, because who would have thought?

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The other thing that must be remembered, and this is something that is easy to overlook -- and I’m not undercutting my position but I’m trying to look at it from different perspectives - we know there have been 30,000, 40,000 Superman stories, we know there are four to five Superman stories a month, we know that the legend is as deep as it is and as wide as it is. We take for granted that everyone else knows that, too, and the more people who have used the "Yeah, but in Superman II he killed Zod as well", which was like cartoon violence - defense, the more it occurred to me to remember to step back and stay a little humble about comics themselves. To a large extent that’s the Superman people know, and they’re not looking at is as him being a comic book character that also had a few movies a few years ago – some of these people are looking at it like it’s a pop culture character and this is the iteration we know, so all they’re doing is remaking the second movie but with a different twist. I’m not articulating this well, but in other words I think to some degree our criticism of, "That’s not what Superman does, that’s not how he is," sounds to some people like we just walked out of the Wild Wild West remake with Will Smith, and are angry and bitching about how this is not how James West and Artemis Gordon act, it’s not in character for them.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: Because they’re holding it up to their perception of Superman: The Movie, or whatever rather than the history of the character -- –

MARK WAID: They know a half a dozen Superman stories, they know The Death of Superman, they know the Superman movies...

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VOICES FROM KRYPTON: But they’re not mired in the mythology –

MARK WAID: Exactly, so from their point of view on a statistical level, maybe Superman does kill. It’s not as apparent to them as it is to those of us who’ve been swimming in the mythos for 75 years.

VOICES FROM KRYPTON: My hope is that they acknowledge the killing in the next movie and it will change him having done so.

MARK WAID: I hope so, and that would certainly buy back a lot of my faith. But I made this argument when John Byrne did his awful, awful story 25 years ago about Superman executing the Phantom Zone criminals, in cold blood by the way, because they were powerless and not a threat anymore. To say that this is what teaches him his code against killing... I mean, I have a code against killing, too, but I didn’t have to learn it by killing someone.

To read the rest of this interview, please click HERE.

Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright serves as a partial inspiration for Man of Steel. As that maxi-series celebrates its 10th anniversary, VFK editor Ed Gross has written an ebook that goes behind the scenes on its writing, exploring it issue by issue with Mark Waid. It's a Q&A session that runs over 20,000 words in length, and includes Waid's original pitch as well as the first outline. It's a discussion that is completely Superman-centric. To order an ebook edition, just click on the image below.

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marvel72 - 7/6/2013, 2:15 PM
heat vision is done on line of sight when you aim it at something the beams should hit that particular object,so why didn't zod just look at the people he was trying to kill.
ShogunNevets - 7/6/2013, 2:16 PM
@marvel72 lazy writing
ekrolo2 - 7/6/2013, 2:17 PM
@marvel72

Some one presented an interesting theory where Zod knew he could force Clark to kill him so he purposefully didn't fry the people on sight but rather did it slowly to make Superman snap his neck, he had no purpose left in life so he probably developed a death wish and saw an opportunity to end his misery.

Now this is just a theory and who knows if thats what its supposed to mean but it makes sense, at least to me.
revloveR - 7/6/2013, 2:18 PM
i suppose it goes without saying that MoS 2 will expand and explain some of those things people disliked about the film. it's been decades since the first superman film and people where pining for something like that. i think this film will be considered ahead of its time in the future.
rusty28 - 7/6/2013, 2:19 PM
ShogunNevets
exactly

And destruction porn is what this movie is....mostly. I like it and it's cool but that's where it ends. You know sort of like The Transformer films. Very cool, shallow and fairly profitable
rusty28 - 7/6/2013, 2:20 PM
MAC
that is a big fat YES
ShogunNevets - 7/6/2013, 2:20 PM
@ekrolo2 That's a horrible death wish
patriautism - 7/6/2013, 2:21 PM
Kingdom Come was good and all that, but Mr.Waid if you insult the legendary John Byrne again, we will have fisticuffs.
rusty28 - 7/6/2013, 2:21 PM
KINGDOM COME = greatest mini-series ever
and that's from a Marvel fan
DanteSparda - 7/6/2013, 2:22 PM
I honestly thought this was a very cheap scene, it didn't make me question the morality of Supes actions, there was obviously no other choice than to kill Zod, this scene was made only for the audience to feel sorry for the good boy scout Superman being forced to kill.

In the other hand it would be great to see this action adressed in the sequel and is emotional and moral impact on Supes as part of the much needed development of the character.
ekrolo2 - 7/6/2013, 2:22 PM
@ShogunNevets

How can a death wish be horrible? He has no purpose left in life, he knows hes in a position where he can force Superman to kill him, he takes it and BOOM, hes dead. Btw how would you describe a good death wish lol?
ManofSteel22 - 7/6/2013, 2:23 PM
But I am pretty sure if you knew someone was going to kill someone,and the ONLY way you could stop a family from being murdered was to kill 1 person,everyone would,I would,if a family live for one super powered being to die,he needed to die
Mike89 - 7/6/2013, 2:24 PM
I like to think Supes killing zod will allow him to adopt his "no kill rule". You got to remember this was the first time Superman was tested physically by fighting his own kind with the same powers he has. In a way he was like a rookie. Making mitakes and not being carefull or mindfull of his sorroundings. The takeoff scene showed he can use his powers but not to its full capacity, at least not yet. That being said i respect Waids opinion but it doesnt mean i agree with everything he says.
marvel72 - 7/6/2013, 2:24 PM
@ ekrolo2

i suppose it made the scene more tense.

@ MartianAbominationClone

hey mate i like man of steel,i'm just saying if zod really wanted to kill those innocent people all he had to do was look at them & then turn on the heat.
8thDynasty - 7/6/2013, 2:25 PM
Can we please stop talking about this terrible movie.
Highflyer - 7/6/2013, 2:27 PM
ok...
ShogunNevets - 7/6/2013, 2:27 PM
If it was me writing that scene, I would've had Zod zapped at least three families in that building into skeletons before superman snapped his neck. Like Zod knew he was gonna die so I'd have him think like "Might as well go out with a bang!" But it was good superman killed zod, like there was no other way to maintain zod, all the kryptonian tech vanished, he'll just bust out of "containment" and kill again
ekrolo2 - 7/6/2013, 2:28 PM
I don't agree with what Waid said about Superman not needing to kill to know its bad, yeah that makes sense kinda but wouldn't his message about killing be even more sound if he experienced doing it himself to some one else? That way when he talks about not killing he can actually tell some one how it feels like and why it can damage you.

Plus again I didn't hear ANYONE complaining about Batman leaving Ras to die in BB for the same reasons Superman kills Zod here, or when he killed Harvey to save Gordon's son, or when he killed Talia and the truck driver during the last chase in TDKR. Wheres the bitching about this, a character like Batman who is synonymous for NOT killing anyone.
ShogunNevets - 7/6/2013, 2:28 PM
@ekrolo2 A good death wish is going out with fireworks
ekrolo2 - 7/6/2013, 2:30 PM
@ShogunNevets

Im pretty sure Zod doesn't know what fireworks are lol.
jp688 - 7/6/2013, 2:31 PM
Mark Waid seriously needs to read the novelization and wrap his head around the concept of a "Superman" who is learning to be a hero. Waid's a douchebag, know-nothing. He is a part of the problem in the Supes universe....the big blue has to be born fully formed and two-dimensional. Boring!
Read more at http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/VoicesFromKrypton/news/?a=82782#VZFoC6FD5qV4Xls4.99
ShogunNevets - 7/6/2013, 2:32 PM
After he killed Zod and yelled, I wish he like flew away on some sonic boom type shit instead of hug on to Lois' cameltoe
ShogunNevets - 7/6/2013, 2:33 PM
@ekrolo2 I thought you meant in general aha
dinkinflicka - 7/6/2013, 2:35 PM
Alot of people on this site have ripped Goyer and Snyder but to me them changing the ending and having Zod being killed I thought was brilliant and to me is what is more realistic. I understand Batman not killing Joker in TDK because he doesn't do that and because at the time they already were planning on using him again. I think Zod ran his course in this movie and it was the only thing that made sense.
EdgyOutsider - 7/6/2013, 2:35 PM
Mark Waid makes valid points. Personally, I thought it was a good scene and honestly, am I the only one who felt bad only for Zod? Seriously, I didn't feel bad for Kal-El or any of them.
faver - 7/6/2013, 2:35 PM
I disagree with him but I respect his position. Birthright is one of my favorite Superman stories. I don't like that much Kingdom Come though. The idea is amazing and Alex Ross' art is breathtaking, but the execution dissapointed me a little.
ekrolo2 - 7/6/2013, 2:40 PM
@McGee

Yeah because a woman with her ass on back wards totally doesn't creep the shit out of me lol.
McNyagano - 7/6/2013, 2:41 PM
Tony93 - 7/6/2013, 2:41 PM
actually in the movie they were displaying heat vision in the movie as being very hurtful to the person doing it.. after each time Supes used heat vision it would hurt him, and in each scene he uses heat vision it shows him having to move his head to navigate the heat vision maybe bcuz its so powerful. thats why they dont just look anywhere they want to.
kalel3Goldy - 7/6/2013, 2:42 PM
MAN OF STEEL IS THE BEST SUPERHERO MOVIE EVER MADE SO EVERYONE PLEASE STOP COMPLAINING SO MUCH ABOUT EVERYTHING MOVIE WAS GOOD AND SEQUEL WOULD BE EVEN BETTER WEKCOME TO THE 21ST CENTURY
yingyangpalms - 7/6/2013, 2:42 PM
Man Of Steel borrowed its 1st 3/4 from Smallville, Donners version and a few comics.
Then it got to what the film was all about: trying to sell Superman as a badass. And they had 2 goals in mind for that: big fight and Superman kills.

The last 1/4 of Man Of Steel is the worst part of any major CBM since Batman and Robin. Waid and others call it destruction porn and theyre right.

Tony93 - 7/6/2013, 2:43 PM
zod uses heat vision and it shows him turning his head instead of just moving his eyes,for the sake of the movie its just more dramatic then moving your eyes
Tony93 - 7/6/2013, 2:44 PM
I agree though that the "destruction" could have been more lighter but seriously cmon.. what would really happen if two aliens were fighting
AztecaAguilar04 - 7/6/2013, 2:45 PM
Oh F**k here we go again!
Supes17 - 7/6/2013, 2:45 PM
@marvel72
Lol i thought the same thing when I saw it.
But my explanation was that Zod had just recently unlocked his heat vision. When he first used it he couldnt even aim it. Superman's heat vision aim wasn't that accurate either.
I think he was also just taking his time to torment Superman more.
marvel72 - 7/6/2013, 2:46 PM
@ 96TwatzShallow

the amazing spider-man is the number 1 reboot.

man of steel worldwide gross $535,391,000

the amazing spider-man gross $752,216,557

domestically yeah but worldwide is what matters.
BadJoke - 7/6/2013, 2:47 PM
"I mean, I have a code against killing, too, but I didn’t have to learn it by killing someone." Maybe Superman had it and he was forced to break it... Seriously, why does people still whining about this?
nowtheresaBATman - 7/6/2013, 2:49 PM
@jp688 well said sir, I concur.
MrReese - 7/6/2013, 2:52 PM
I love all the attention MoS gets! Keep it up fellas. XD
marvel72 - 7/6/2013, 2:52 PM
@ Supes17

it was pretty accurate when that big bastard & faaro attacked superman,he got both of them off him with his heat vision.

also when he healed lois wound onboard that ship when they first met.
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