Terrifying Peek at Superman’s New Super-foe, General Zod in New Spot

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

There's not much point in being a superhero if you don’t have a super villain to fight, and in a new "Man of Steel" TV spot, we get a better sense of who Superman is up against in this summer's hotly anticipated big screen reboot.

"No matter how violent, every action I take is for the greater good of my people," a menacing, slightly slurred voice says in voice over as we see large scale destruction being rained down upon cities big and small.Watch "Man of Steel" TV Spot #8...

Cut to a brief shot of Michael Shannon as General Zod, striding towards the camera in a futuristic black costume, looking as if he has a score to settle with humanity. Seven seconds later, the preview offers a close-up of Zod, staring at someone or something as if he could burn holes in them with his sight, shortly before Superman (Henry Cavill) declares, "You're a monster, Zod!"

So in a few seconds we've established who are the good guy and the bad guy here, and what they look like. But what are their differences, exactly? That part of the story is still being kept under wraps at this point, but in a recent interview, Shannon did offer his take on Zod, and how it differs from Terrence Stamp's portrayal of the power-hungry general in "Superman II" (1980).

[Related: ‘Man of Steel’ Viral Spot Issues a Command From Superman’s Enemy General Zod]

"He’s not a villain any more than any other general fighting to protect his people," Shannon said, "He doesn’t like to just hurt people and steal diamonds; he’s focused on being successful at his job. I think the way Terrence Stamp approached it – and this isn’t any kind of criticism of his performance – there was something kind of detached about it. Pure hatred, rage, whatever … I think this [interpretation] is more ambiguous."

And screenwriter David S. Goyer has said "Man of Steel" will offer a more detailed look at life on Superman's home planet, saying, "We try to flesh out Krypton and its different political factions, its fauna, its science." With that, perhaps we can expect a richer perspective on why General Zod rebels against Krypton's leaders and takes on the earth, rather than just being an interstellar meanie.

Watch "Man of Steel" TV Spot #7...

Two other new TV spots for "Man of Steel" popped up over the Memorial Day weekend as well. One focuses on the relationship between Superman and his father, Jor-El, played by Russell Crowe. Over a montage of Superman performing all manner of dangerous and heroic deeds, his father tells him, "You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards … you will give them hope – that's what this symbol means." Jor-El then opens his shirt, revealing that classic "S" logo underneath.

Watch "Man of Steel" TV Spot #6...

And in the other preview, Superman is being interrogated by Lois Lane (Amy Adams) as she asks, "What's the S stand for?" Superman tells her, "It’s not an S." This is followed by another montage of destruction, rescues, and slam-bang action before ending on a female solder who has just seen the man from Krypton in action and says to a superior officer, "I just think he's kind of hot."

So this much we know – Superman is here to do good, the ladies like him, and he's up against a military leader with some serious skills and ambiguous motivations.

Alas, we may just have to wait to find out more until June 14, when "Man of Steel" opens wide domestically.

[Related: ‘Man of Steel’: New Trailer Reveals What That ‘S’ Really Stands For]