Man of Steel was one of the most divisive superhero movies of recent times. Praised for its visual aesthetic and grounded approach, it was also criticized for the graphic large-scale violence and pessimistic screenplay. While promoting his new film The Quarry, actor Michael Shannon weighed in on his favorite parts of Man of Steel, where he played the villain, General Zod.
"My favorite part of Man of Steel was the story and characters and the situation. In the midst of all the fighting and whatnot, when Zod is actually being very frank with Superman, you know, saying, "This is why I'm doing what I'm doing, this is my job. This is what I've been through," you know? Those moments where they connect with one another, those are the moments that interest me."
The Zod we got to see in the film was a driven character, quite literally. He reveals to Kal El that he was genetically programmed to seek out Krypton's salvation, through any means necessary. This compelled Zod to be merciless in terraforming Earth into a new version of his dead home planet and added an air of inevitability to his conflict with Superman, which ended with the superhero snapping Zod's neck.
Michael Shannon seems to appreciate the moments that allowed him to bring Zod's inner compulsions to the screen, through his talks with Kal El. However, those moments were far and few in a Superhero movie that made heavy use of CGI and action sets, something that the actor admits was not as much fun for him.
"I don't really enjoy riding around on a horse or shooting guns or acting like I'm fighting somebody. But I like doing scenes where I get to say interesting dialogue or listen to somebody else talk... When we were making Man of Steel, there were some fun sets, but on a lot of days, you just go to the green screen studio. That doesn't exactly get your heart pumping. It's really technical work."
It is this same conundrum that historically kept serious actors from joining superhero movies. Traditionally, such movies were seen as being more focussed on the 'how' rather than the 'why', meaning they were more interested in showcasing action scenes rather than exploring realistic emotions and character motivations. For Shannon, it was the emotional core of the character of Zod that he enjoyed exploring as an actor, while the action scenes were fun to watch on screen, especially the initial fight between Superman and Zod in Smallville.
"I mean, the fighting is cool as hell, don't get me wrong! ...There were some really cool sets, too. Like that scene where we have the big showdown in his hometown, and I blow up the gas station and all that, that was pretty cool."
With The Quarry, Shannon is back to doing the kind of stories he loves. The film is about a fugitive who kills and takes the place of a small-town preacher, with his lies coming untangled once the police get on his trail. Screenrant.