General Zod
Credit: Everett Collection; C Flanigan/

The news yesterday that Michael Shannon has been cast as General Zod in director Zack Snyder’s reboot of the Superman movie franchise has sparked a fascinating debate among the fanboy faithful and message boarders. Basically, it goes like this:

Fanboy #1: Michael Shannon’s a total badass who’s awesome on Boardwalk Empire and was so creepy good in Revolutionary Road (as I am the only Superman fanboy who is also a sucker for depressing post-war domestic melodrama literary adaptations)! Also: I love General Zod! This rocks!

Fanboy #2: Yeah, Shannon does rock, but why must he play General Zod? Terence Stamp was so flippin’ awesome as Zod in 1980’s Superman II. Can’t we get a new villain?

Fanboy #3: I agree! Why not Darkseid? Or Brainiac? Or Metallo?

Fanboy #4: Darkhuh? Brainiwha? Metallowho? No one who isn’t a fanboy knows who those villains are! Kneel before Zod! (I’ve always wanted to type that into a message board.)

Fanboy #1: Yeah, and Christopher Nolan, who’s producing this new Superman, was pretty darn successful rebooting the Batman franchise with a new Joker — a character Jack Nicholson OWNED in 1989’s Batman. Lighten up! We can do with a new Zod!

Fanboy #2: But Nolan rebooted Batman with Batman Begins, which had Ra’s Al Ghul and the Scarecrow as its villains, both never seen before in a Batman feature film and not exactly the most A-list-y members of Batman’s rogue gallery. So why recycle Zod again?

Fanboy #5*: To comment on Superman. Zod is Kryptonian. He will have the same powers as Superman on Earth (assuming we’re dealing with a story set on Earth). You use Zod to give Superman a villain he can physically fight — and can be used as a “dark Superman,” to embody everything Superman could be but chooses NOT to be, i.e., a self-serving world dominator.

Fanboy #6: Am I alone in wishing Shannon was playing Mister Mxyzptlk instead?

Fanboys #1, 2, 3, 4 & 5: Yes.

*Rumored to be EW’s Doc Jensen.

Annnnd scene. Personally, I’m torn between Fanboys #1, 2, and 5 — my favorite sequence in all of Superman moviedom remains the battle between Superman and Zod (and his two minions, Ursa and Non) in the middle of Metropolis in Superman II. (You can watch a version of it here.) But if Heath Ledger can erase my memory of Nicholson as the Joker, then I suppose I can allow Shannon the benefit of the doubt that he’ll do the same with his Zod.

Here’s my question: Do Snyder and Nolan really have the chuzpah to make a Superman movie that doesn’t put Lex Luthor front and center as the bad guy? The last time that happened, we got Superman III, and the less said about that movie, the better.

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  • Movie
  • 151 minutes
  • Richard Donner