Michael Shannon Won't Say "Kneel Before Zod" In 'Man Of Steel' & Why Franchise Traditions Aren't Always A Good Thing

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by Kevin Jagernauth
November 6, 2012 5:27 PM
11 Comments
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Superman brings with it a lot of baggage. With a cinematic history, and of course, an even longer one in the pages of the comics, certain segments of fans are expecting Zack Snyder's upcoming "Man Of Steel" to at least pay tribute to its predecessors in some fashion. Portions of various fanboy quarters thrive on this kind of stuff, like a reference to "Superman II" is an entry to a secret club. But of course, with next summer's blockbuster being shephereded by Christopher Nolan and penned by David Goyer, it seems they are wisely avoiding going down that path.

Michael Shannon recently sat down with the very energetic Carrie Keagan of VH1's "Big Morning Buzz Live" (see below) and when asked if he would say the famous phrase "Kneel before Zod," the already uncomfortable actor replied, “I guess I shouldn’t say, but… Well, I don’t say that in the movie.” And you what? Great, we've been there, done that, let's do something new.

Over the past year, we've seen a few movies bend overselves to wink and nod at a fragment of the audience, usually to the picture's detriment. Remember the "untold story" from of "The Amazing Spider-Man"? What's remarkable is how it pretty much retold the exact same origin story we've seen all over again. And then there's last weekend's "Wreck-It Ralph," which found geeks gushing at all the nostalgic videogame characters and little references to gaming ("Contra" code!) to the point that they overlooked the movie's generic, princess story arc that Disney has rehashed a thousand times.

And then there's this weekend's "Skyfall." I'm in the minority who didn't much care for it, and without getting too far into spoilers, the film's adherence to the various tropes of what the Bond movie has to feature -- a girl, a gadget, an exotic location -- coupled with the acknowledgement of its 50 years of age, leads to a movie that sags under the weight of having to fit into the framework of a "Bond movie." I long for the time when the Bond producers give a writer/director free rein with character -- it would be amazing to see what Bond could be become if each movie didn't have a set of criteria it needed to checklist each time out.

But the problem is, studios believe audiences want the familiar, not the adventurous or different. But as Nolan proved with his Batman films, taking a different approach and tone, and creating a unique narrative, that is still respectful of its source material and origins, can do wonders. Let's hope that line of dialogue not being included is just one of the many things Snyder, Nolan, Goyer and co. have jettisoned to create a Superman movie that is truly new and fresh. 

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11 Comments

  • Alan | November 7, 2012 7:48 PMReply

    So you want a Bond film ... to not be a Bond film. Great idea. Who needs women or locations in a Bond film, anyway? Who needs action or excitement? Isn't the appeal of this series that this guy is a killer? Let's just have a Thomas Harris-style film in which this guy just kills people and never gets laid, instead ... oh God, in order to understand why a Bond film works or doesn't, you have to understand the appeal of the character, which Kevin clearly doesn't. The reference to 'The Amazing Spider-Man' proves that Kevin doesn't understand what he is on about, and will cite anything, despite its inappropriateness. TASM didn't feature any of the nods or winks that Kevin accuses it of: in fact, it desperately, desperately tries to avoid them, at all costs: "hey Peter, there's this thing called responsibility ... I mean, acceptance. And you have to accept your powers ... I mean authority."

  • Alan | November 7, 2012 7:57 PM

    Maybe I'm wrong and Kevin is right? James Bond shouldn't be Bond at all: he should be some bloke named Gary. Mike Leigh should direct, and all the girls or gadgets should be deleted, because who wants to see a sexy, action-packed "James Bond" film anyway? It should be set in one room, and he and M should discuss foreign policy for two and a half hours: that's what a James Bond film should be. Who needs sex or fun in a "James Bond" film?

  • njifn | November 7, 2012 8:54 AMReply

    You have to have "KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!" God, I hate Zack Snyder all of a sudden trying to pretend he's a serious filmmaker.

  • james | November 7, 2012 8:21 AMReply

    I'm inclined to agree with you about SKYFALL - although I disagree that's the reason for its failure. I think the filmmakers DID try and do something different, they just did it poorly. It was just such a poorly told story. It had a bizarre sense of stakes, asking us to invest in a story which was actually morally misguided, a lack of plot which meant the movie basically ended half way through, a villain whose insane competence then didn't tally with his subsequent insane lack of competence, as well as plot holes and lost plot threads and abandoned character development and... the list goes on. And don't get me started on the Aston Martin.

  • tion | November 7, 2012 7:51 AMReply

    KNEEL BEFORE YOUR MOM

  • TheoC | November 6, 2012 7:04 PMReply

    I agree with the sentiment of this piece. I thought Nolan had begun to distance himself from this about a year ago? Understandably he'll have a producer or executive producer credit, but I thought I'd read here? that he'd moved away to concentrate on Batman and distance himself from 'Man Of Wood'. Who cares?

    Kneel before Terence Stamp.

  • SFlare | November 7, 2012 8:01 AM

    From the credits at the end of the trailer Christopher Nolan has a producer and story writing credit. It also states the film as a SYNCOPY production, Nolan's company.

  • DG | November 6, 2012 6:16 PMReply

    Well said about the Bond franchise. I think Snyder Might have been a genius choice too. Nolan's Batman films changed the genre so forcefully that it is now mandatory for every CBM to tyr and feature 'realism' whether it suits the material or not. In a lot of ways hiring a director not especially known for realism is a good sign that the creative forces behind this movie are challenging themselves and not just sticking to the trend they helped create. In other words realism has been a good thing for CBMs overall but it's starting to feel predictable.

  • Pikey | November 6, 2012 6:00 PMReply

    ''And then there's this weekend's "Skyfall." I'm in the minority who didn't much care for it, and without getting too far into spoilers, the film's adherence to the various tropes of what the Bond movie has to feature -- a girl, a gadget, an exotic location -- coupled with the acknowledgement of its 50 years of age, leads to a movie that sags under the weight of having to fit into the framework of a "Bond movie." I long for the time when the Bond producers give a writer/director free rein with character -- it would be amazing to see what Bond could be become if each movie didn't have a set of criteria it need to checklist each time out.''

    Amen!

  • Christian | November 6, 2012 5:56 PMReply

    Good point. I think Nolan's involvement will save this from being another generic superhero origin re-hash. I'm expecting a poetic, grand, almost philosophical story about big questions. Hiring Snyder might have been a rather genius match with Nolan's focus on depth and substance, mixing the visual richness with complex characters and genuine drama. Could be next year's best superhero film.

  • goldfarb | November 6, 2012 8:57 PM

    "...a poetic, grand, almost philosophical story about big questions"
    this is exactly how Superman should be handled...with a giant helping of flying and smashing etc

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