Musings on the latest Man of Steel Casting: Michael Shannon as General ZOD

Big news for superhero movie fans everywhere! As you know, I’ve been following the development of the Superman reboot for a while now. Well, after Superman’s been cast, we’ve not got Supes’ love interest with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, then Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as ma and pa Kent. The biggest question hanging since had been, who’ll be the villain??

Well, the speculation is over with the press release out today from Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. Those hoping to hear the iconic phrase “Kneel before Zod!!” will likely hear it uttered from the mouth of Michael Shannon.

The Wrap article has the full release, but this is what Zack Snyder said about the casting decision:

Zod is not only one of Superman’s most formidable enemies, but one of the most significant because he has insights into Superman that others don’t. Michael is a powerful actor who can project both the intelligence and the malice of the character, making him perfect for the role.

So who’s this Michael Shannon?? He might not be a household name yet, but he’s been in various movie and tv series for nearly two decades. You might have seen him in Vanilla Sky, Revolutionary Road (which he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod), My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, The Runaways, and most recently the HBO gangster series Boardwalk Empire as Agent Nelson. I’ve actually just heard about the Kentucky-born actor when he was cast in the upcoming inspirational biopic Machine Gun Preacher as Gerry Butler’s best friend. To be honest, I’m not familiar much with his work, though from some of the clips I’ve seen, he strikes me as a performer who tend to disappear into his roles, which is always a great talent to have for any actor. In any case, Shannon went from an actor I barely knew to having two of his upcoming movies at the top of my highly-anticipated list!

Stamp as the indelible Gen. Zod

As far as the Man of Steel movie, I’m definitely glad they chose to go with General Zod instead of Lex Luthor. Out of the five Superman feature films so far, the pompous and power-hungry Zod is the most compelling one to me. As a fellow Kryptonian, he not only has the history with Kal-El’s that no other enemy has, he’s also the only one who matches Superman’s caliber in both intelligence and physical strength, making him a formidable nemesis to watch going toe-to-toe with the superhero. So to hear Zack utter the words intelligence + malice to describe Shannon is definitely what I wanted to hear. Thanks to Terrence Stamp’s icy elegant performance, the character portrayed in the movie has become so iconic. The English actor has done more than six dozen movies/tv work but he’ll forever be known as Zod, which is a pop-culture phenomenon himself, he even has his own Obama-style campaign poster!

I have high hopes for Mr. Shannon that he will do the role justice, he’s also got a deep voice that’d certainly help in creating a commanding presence. Oh by the way, the 36-year-old actor is apparently a couple of inches taller than Henry Cavill, standing at 6’3″, so this Zod doesn’t necessarily need to have Supes to kneel before him to feel, y’know, physically superior 🙂

So what do you think of this casting choice folks? What are your thoughts on Michael Shannon in general?

25 thoughts on “Musings on the latest Man of Steel Casting: Michael Shannon as General ZOD

  1. Ted Saydalavong

    I think Michael Shannon is the last actor the studio and Snyder will choose to play a big villain in their tent pole picture. I’ve seen some of his work, he seemed to always played that dimwitted type of character, example Revolutionary Road and Bad Boys 2; he’s good at those kind of roles. But I don’t see him as the antagonist to Superman. Hopefully Snyder can make him a believable villain.

    I was actually quite disappointed that they decided to go with General Zod as the main villain, I was hoping they’ll go with some new character like Darkside or Brainiac. I guess I should be thankful they didn’t go with Lex Luther again.

  2. Shannon is excellent in Boardwalk Empire (love that show by the way)

    He is determined and powerful, if a little deluded and driven crazy by his un faltering faith in god.

    I am very interested to see what he brings to the table. I am glad that an actor that isn’t from the A list is chosen again by Snyder. Fingers crossed it all works out well


    1. @ Custard, I’ve heard a lot of good things about ‘Boardwalk’ it’s like the new ‘Sopranos’ isn’t it?

      Truthfully, I’m not as concerned whether the actors chosen are A-listers or not, just so long as they can act. I’m curious to see what he does with the role as well.

  3. I must admit I’ve never heard of Michael Shannon before this weekend when the news was released.
    I think this film needed some popular and well known actor as the villain.

    1. I figure a lot of people don’t know who he is yet. I actually don’t mind that he’s not well-known yet, I mean, Terence Stamp wasn’t a big star back then either but he made the character so iconic, so we’ll see if Michael can do the same with the role.

          1. Ahah, too funny. I kinda figured you might’ve gotten the actor mixed up but didn’t want to say anything. But yeah, Hunger was what got Fassbender noticed, but I think X-Men: First Class might make him a household name.

  4. Ted S.

    Weird I posted my comments last night but it never appeared.

    Anyhoo, I think Shannon was the last actor Snyder and Warner Bros. would pick to be the main villain in their tent pole picture. I thought maybe they’d go with some well known older actor.

    I’ve seen some of Shannon’s work, he always seemed to play that dimwitted kind of character, like in Revolutionary Road and Bad Boys 2. I don’t see him as the antagonist to the Man of Steel. I hope Snyder can make him into a good villain.

    Also, I was a bit disappointed that they went with Zod as the main villain, I was hoping they’d go with some other villains that have never been seen on the big screen. Someone like Darkside or Brainiac; but I’m glad they didn’t go with Lex Luthor again.

    1. Oh it happens sometimes if you used a different email Ted. I was thinking the same too, that they’d go with an older British actor like Stamp. But y’know, seeing Shannon’s resume, I’m kinda curious to see what he’d do with the role. He’s an unknown alright but it doesn’t bother me so long as the role is well-written and that he projects that ‘intelligence malice’ Snyder’s been quoted as saying. Just ’cause he’s been playing a dimwitted character doesn’t mean he can’t play something else.

      I realize this decision can’t please everybody, but perhaps they don’t want a ‘freak’ kind of a villain for the first part of the reboot, they can always introduce other villains in the sequels if this is successful.

      1. Ted S.

        Yeah I’m gonna have to wait and see his version of Zod before I can make any judgement on the guy. I saw him in Bug with Ashley Judd and even though it was a different kind of film, I still thought his character has that dumb look on his face. I don’t know, I think his role in Bad Boys 2 will always be on my mind every time I see him on the screen.

        I was hoping since Nolan is involve in the project, they’d bring in some new villains just like what Nolan did in Batman Begins. Ra’s Al Ghul and Scarecrow were villains we’ve never seen on screen before, but they brought in the well known ones for the sequel. I thought they would do the same for this new Superman film. But I’m just glad they’re not going with Lex Luthor again, I hope they make in a minor role in the film then expand for the sequel.

        1. Yeah, I don’t mind Lex if they do it right. So I like the idea of him appearing as a minor character and then expand it later. I like Zod as a Supes villain so I guess I’m more enthusiastic about this news than you, and given there’s a lot at stake with the reboot this time, perhaps even Nolan thought it might be better to go w/ a more well-known character and they can always introduce others in the future. I’m kinda glad I haven’t seen any of his work so I don’t have a preconceived notion about him.

          1. Ted S.

            I think that’s probably a good thing that you’ve never seen his previous work, then when you see the new Superman film you won’t have to think about his past work.

            That’s how I feel about Jeff Bridges, ever since I saw The Big Labowski, I can only see him as The Dude, even in other movies. When I saw both True Grit and Tron: Legacy in theater, I thought he would blurt out “I’m the Dude man!” in a scene from those films. Ha ha.

    1. I should see some of his BE scenes on YouTube now, you got me curious. My friend Vince just said he’s creepy in The Runaways too, so sounds like he’d be good as Zod.

  5. Yea, not really familiar with Michael Shannon’s performances. I’m sure he will do a solid General Zod, but as said previously, the weak link is Zack Snyder.

    1. Yeah I guess a lot of people think that after Sucker Punch and I can’t blame ’em. But I’m still optimistic he’d do fine here, especially w/ Nolan’s involvement. I hope I’m not wrong though 🙂

  6. Funk

    Not that bad of a choice in having Shannon playing Gen Zod.
    He also comes out of stage Theatre in Chicago, and I believe he’s a founding member of the Red Orchid Theatre there as well, always like to see the stage folks do good in movies, with that background coupled with his commanding physical presence I think he’ll be a bad-ass Zod.

    1. Glad you think so, Funk. Yeah I believe he got started in Chicago, and totally agree that stage actors tend to do well in movies. I have high hopes for Shannon as Zod!

  7. The only thing i’ve seen him in is the Runaways, and imo he gave a good performance in the movie.

    I still don’t really care about this movie yet to be honest. I just don’t think Superman is that compelling of a character, or at the very least there’s not a whole lot you can do with his character and still keep him the boy scout Superman.

  8. Glad that there seem to be nothing but positive statements in the press about Shannon being picked! Snyder and Nolan’s nod of approval are also great!

    found a vid of Shannon himself talking about the role and put it on my site today.

    Looking forward to Dec2012

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