David S. Goyer Defends Man of Steel Ending, Thinks Audiences Are Tired of Cinematic Universes

Wednesday, 28 October 2015 - 5:00PM
DC Comics
Superman
Man of Steel
Wednesday, 28 October 2015 - 5:00PM
David S. Goyer Defends Man of Steel Ending, Thinks Audiences Are Tired of Cinematic Universes
The ending of Man of Steel was controversial for several reasons, not the least of which was Superman killing Zod. In DC Comics, Superman is staunchly against killing, and many comics fans felt that the decision ran contrary to the core values of Superman. Now, in a podcast with Nerdist, screenwriter David S. Goyer defended his decision as "doing what's right for the story," completely separate from any preconceived notions of the character:

Opening quote
"The way I work, the way Chris works, is you do what's right for the story. That exists entirely separately from what fans should or shouldn't think of that character... In that instance, this was a Superman who had only been Superman for like, a week. He wasn't Superman as we think of him in the DC Comics... He'd only flown for the first time a few days before that... And so he's going up against a guy who's not only super-powered, but has been training since birth to use those super powers, who exists as a superhuman killing machine, who has stated, 'I will never stop until I destroy all of humanity.'

If you take Superman out of it, what's the right way to tell that story? I think the right way to tell that story is if you take this powered alien who says, 'You can have your race back, but you have to kill your adopted race,' the moral, horrible situation to be in is to actually be forced to kill, not wanting to, the only other person from your race. Take Superman aside, I think that's the right way to tell that story."
Closing quote

His reasoning is sound, in my opinion; writers should make decisions that make sense for the movie itself, and shouldn't feel shackled by fidelity to the comics. Of course, the ending of Man of Steel was still stupid, considering that Metropolis was flattened seemingly without consequence, but in general Goyer is making sense.

Funnily enough, Zack Snyder has defended the ending of Man of Steel by insisting that the ramifications of the battle with Zod will be explored in depth in Batman v Superman, which runs contrary to Goyer's opinion about focusing on making quality individual films rather than servicing a franchise:
Opening quote
"I think [audiences] are savvy to do the idea that, 'Oh, this isn't a film, this is a piece of commerce now, in this ongoing franchise.' If you go to the studios now, everyone wants story universes because they've seen what Marvel or what Lucasfilm has done. Not to say that what Marvel and Lucasfilm have done isn't amazing, but all the other studios want to do the exact same thing... Now it's not just enough to say, 'Oh, I hope this is a three movie franchise,' it's 'Oh, I hope this is a nine movie…' - it's a ten-year plan.

You've got all these projects - and I won't name them - that are going out there that's like, 'This is going to be the first in a projected eight movie thing.' And you're like, 'How about starting with just making a good movie?' There have been a lot of good sequels, and it's really hard to do a third film. It's incredibly hard to do it the third time out, especially if you're not designing them to be one long story. In the Batman films, we weren't. When we finished 'The Dark Knight,' we didn't say, 'We've set these seeds to do x, y and z.' We had no idea what we were going to do. Chris always felt like, each movie has to have its own integrity, and if you have a great idea, use it, and don't think about a sequel. And if you do that really well, it becomes harder to do a sequel. But at the same time, if you're trying to do a presumptive trilogy, I think audiences are starting to catch on to this, and be a little weary of it."
Closing quote

At first blush, it sounds ridiculous to say that viewers are getting tired of writers servicing cinematic universes over individual films, as that's pretty much Marvel's entire game, and they're wildly successful. But on the other hand, Age of Ultron was probably the first Marvel film that really didn't stand on its own, and had more nods to the rest of the cinematic universe than actual substance. While it still performed well, it didn't meet expectations. So while viewers definitely still like big interconnected franchises, Goyer's right that the movie still needs to stand on its own.
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