Man of Steel: How Snyder/Nolan Will Set the Stage for Villains

Man of Steel: How Snyder/Nolan Will Set the Stage for Villains

We’ve all been monitoring Man Of Steel news like crazed 1980’s kids waiting for the Dinobots to hit shelves at the local KB Toys. I remember well, those damn Dinobots were hard to find.

The point is, we’re all giddy like school children around here, and we sure act like children more often than not when it comes to what we think we are entitled to in movies and their associated trailers. I don’t remember trailers as a kid. I was too busy living life to pay attention to the commercials. I’d see the movie poster hanging at the local theater, and I’d pester my parents for weeks until it opened. Warner Bros doesn’t owe us anything other than an outstanding final product. The original Superman trailer just showed some clouds and told us some people more famous than Christopher Reeve would be in it, and it did just fine. We need to chill on the trailer talk. I for one like the way Nolan sells his movies. He gives us cryptic, out-of-order, fast edited, teasers, that virtually reveal nothing about the plot and even less about the antagonist. But they sure leave me entranced and excited for the movie release. I’d rather be left in the dark than get a trailer like Prometheus, where not only all of the climatic parts of the movie in the trailer, but they were more climatic as a trailer. Enough about trailers…

I’ve been thinking about the MOS trailer, and some stuff on the web that I probably shouldn’t have watched, some stuff I shouldn’t have read and then cross-referenced that with what I know about Nolan’s style of storytelling. I came to the conclusion that we’re going to get some surprises in this movie and the foundation for the villains of the sequels. I think this movie will lay all the groundwork for DC Universe movies to come for a couple of reasons. First, I don’t think Nolan will setup a DC universe like an episodic cartoon. The villains have to make sense, even if they don’t really make sense. By that I mean, he’s not going to set up the sequels so that each one has to begin with the arrival of the alien villain in their spacecraft. We have never had alien contact on this plant until Superman appears and then Earth suddenly becomes the focal point of intergalactic tyranny? That’s silly and way too convenient. We’ll leave that “convenient for the sake of convenience” stuff to Marvel (wink). Secondly, the other upcoming DC movies won’t want to fall into those trappings either, so I believe when they introduce Superman, they will take that opportunity to plant many seeds for future villains that can be used across the board. Realistically for JLA to work, the villain has to essentially be from Superman’s rogue’s gallery, or he’d squash them in a nano second and the movie would be over. So this movie has a huge burden to bear. It will act as Marvel Phase 1, but in a single movie. The rest will flow from here.

I believe Nolan will introduce at least two more possibilities and open the door for several more in terms of villains. I think one villain will take a central role in this movie, and it’s not Zod. Much like Bane/Talia twist, I believe Zod and Faora will be the primary physical threats, but the real threat is behind the scenes like a puppeteer, similar to Thanos in Avengers.

Braniac. The Collector. If Chris has written a story that involves Zod and his large space vessel, we assume is Zod’s, then this is a perfect time to plant Braniac seeds without having to explain his arrival later by a different spaceship. Let’s avoid trying to explain why aliens keep coming to destroy Earth. It’s simple, Brainiac is either stowing away on board waiting for the right moment, dormant in the ship’s systems, or he is the ship and actually uses Zod to track down the last remaining Kryptonian with the intention of killing them all in the end. Brainiac could easily convince Zod that Jor-El was responsible for Krypton’s destruction (if we’re not going the Phantom Zone route), thereby motivating him. Zod is also a loose cannon which can make for an interesting betrayal situation, where the tables are turned on Brainiac.

The toy commercial mentions “Zod and his robot army”. Why would Zod have a robot army? Where’d he get it? This is a stretch for me, unless it’s supplied by Brainiac ala Palpatine’s clones, so that they can be used later to conquer worlds. And I think, the Star Wars prequels handling of vast robot armies have soured that robot army idea for most people… Another possibility is that the spaceship in the trailer is not Zod’s and a totally different subplot that pops up while Zod is on Earth. Zod traditionally was trapped in the Phantom Zone by Jor-El, hence the revenge angle. If Zod is free to roam the universe in his own spaceship, how did he find Earth? What’s his motivation? And why wouldn’t the ship have other Kryptonians aboard as crew or at least other Phantom Zone escapees? Well, it may not be related to Zod at all.

Nolan is tricky, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the spaceship is Brainiac, who is the true villain of the movie. It fits better. It will provide a neat twist when we find out Zod really isn’t calling all the shots, makes more sense for why there’s a spaceship, and opens the door wide open for more villains, and creates an interesting dynamic between major villains that have conflicting goals. Brainiac should have access to Phantom Zone technology based on his role on Krypton and other advanced worlds. He has a reason for seeking out Kal-El, that’s his directive, to collect the knowledge of each species and eliminate the species. He’s got Krypton’s knowledge, and there are a few survivors left to deal with. He frees Zod, uses the old “Jor-El snitched on you and destroyed your momma’s house” angle, and manipulates him and Faora to fulfill his agenda knowing that Kal-El in Earth’s yellow sun would be formidable.

Luther. The beautiful thing about Brainiac is that he would naturally seek out the Earth’s higher intellectuals. I can only see Zod as a distraction. Brainiac does not settle for full frontal assaults. While Zod wages war, Brainiac manipulates Luther, unbeknownst to Luther, because Brainiac always has a contingency plan, or six. Luther is in a position of power and has similar motivations. Luther could not resist the temptations Brainiac could offer. Luther could get a small cameo as behind the scenes conspirator, where Brainiac has promised Luther great rewards for his assistance. Now we’ve opened the door for Luther, and for Luther legitimately possessing futuristic-technology in sequels that won’t require detailed explanations. This could lend itself to more grounded versions of future characters like the creation of Metallo, Parasite, and even a version of Bizarro, and several other villains that could rival Superman. Or Brainiac himself could create those three on his own.

I’d love for Luther to be involved in MOS, but in the form of a brilliant and ruthless scientist/businessman we all know from the cartoons. Luther would not sit this out. A supreme AI and super-powered aliens appear on Earth and battle for ultimate reign, and Luther doesn’t get involved. I’m tired of Luther being the lone villain, but at the same time Luther can’t be left out completely. He’s too arrogant to allow aliens to rule his planet, especially because he believes Earth is his to conquer. A defeated Brainiac is salvaged by Luther with the unknown on the horizon, cut to a scene of computer bits and pieces reconstituting in a LexCorp lab deep underground, lights dim, 3 green eyes pulsate on the black screen, fade. I know the New 52 has covered some connections between the characters above recently, but I haven’t read it all yet.

With the introduction Of Brainiac, Metallo becomes a real viable character. I think it will be important to Nolan and his camp that we have a reason to suspend our disbelief at the introduction of advanced technologies. If those technologies are alien, the audience won’t require explanations. If the tech used to create villains like Metallo or Bizarro (if we’re talking clones) is human, then we’ll limit ourselves to creations that aren’t nearly on the same power scale as Superman. Also, the introduction of Kryptonite is inevitable at some point, so it makes sense that Brainiac is the one that brings “samples” of Kal-El’s home world with him, knowing the radiation would be useful, or possibly he kept a souvenir an inadvertently learns of its value when Kal-El attacks his ship. I think about 100% of fans want to avoid a Smallville scenario, where Kryptonite is so abundant on Earth that you wonder how Clark every survived childhood. This way we can eventually turn over the last (of believed to be the last) chunk of Kryptonite to Bruce for safe-keeping. If Brainiac brings Kryptonite samples with him, Metallo can at least be more than a Robocop or Terminator and pose a legitimate threat to Big Blue.

Bizarro. I can see Bizarro presented in way that is different from the comics, but interesting and true to the nature of the character. I don’t think we’ll ever see a dark Superman costume with the backwards “S”. Explaining how anyone but Kal-El has access to his suit’s materials will be unbelievable. I don’t think he’d act like a reverse Superman either. I think we’d get more of a hybrid clone with skewed sense of morality that we have seen in the cartoons, and DC direct features. He wouldn’t even be called Bizarro, but it’s important that he not be called Superboy or any of the other weird clones from the comics. Although after the whole “Robin” thing from TDKR, I’d half expect his name to be revealed as Connor. He would be fully capable of going to toe to toe with Kal-El. Now that we’ve seen Superman bleeding in the trailer, it appears he’ll be leaving his DNA all over the place. With Luther and Brainiac conspiring to conquer Earth and defeat Kal-El and also prepare against Zod’s betrayal, it would make sense for there to be a small easter egg in the movie alluding to the cloning of Superman, like Luther holding a vial of blood before his eyes, and grinning to himself as the movie ends.

Parasite. I just threw him in there. He’s not of alien origin, could easily be explained through a lab accident, experimentation by Brainiac or even a failed cloning of Superman. I really see Luther and Brainiac being the driving force behind many of the other super-villains that will be introduced. I highly doubt that we’ll get a bunch of space visitors in what is conceivably a MOS trilogy. Other JLA members bring their own baggage, that essentially only have alien villains to choose from like Martian Manhunter and GL. DC and Warner brothers will want to tread lightly on the alien stuff, unless the heroes leave Earth altogether to engage in battle. I can imagine a real sci-fi epic feature in the future that really delivers the way Green Lantern had promised.

Another idea. Doomsday. An advanced Kryptonian ship assimilated by Brainiac, traversing the universe collecting data and knowledge, genetics, engineering, culture etc. Maybe in Brainiac’s travels he encountered a race that engineered, stop me if this sounds familiar, an inanimate being capable of building (and destroying) worlds. We get a fancy flash sequence of Brainiac obliterating that world, and somehow neutralizing the creature, keeping/collecting it. Or maybe in a new twist on things, Brainiac himself is the creator of Doomsday using acquired technologies and science. When he arrives at Earth, Doomsday is in stasis aboard his vessel. Or he creates Doomsday out of anger for his failed attempts to conquer Earth and defeat Kal-El. Anyhow, his failsafe for Zod’s failure against Kal-El, is to unleash Doomsday. Or possibly, Brainiac himself realizes the dangers of Doomsday and decides to hide him away on his ship, but Luther discovers him and thinks he can control the beast himself. I’d expect there to be an end sequence that addresses the state of Doomsday and alludes to his awakening at the end of the movie once Brainiac has “retreated”. The typical monster movie ending with the black background, suddenly two yellow eyes open, a grunt and a growl… fade to “S” Shield.

The best part of all this is that we don’t need space aliens arriving on Earth to start every movie. The seeds could easily be planted for five or six of Kal-El biggest, smartest and deadliest enemies. I think Nolan will do something along these lines because he prefers a “hyper-reality” to total science fiction/fantasy. It makes a lot more sense for a Brainiac ship to come to Earth and develop some characters from that jumping off point. We’ll already know which villains are plausible heading into the next movie, rather than some random decision to have the flavor of the month arrive from space unexpectedly, again, and attack Earth, again, because alien monster/dictators seem to really hate Earth. Future DC movies could really hit the ground running if the next villain is beginning to develop during the finale of MOS. Nolan likes to tie his movies together to some degree, even if MOS doesn’t get a sequel, he will leave a few threads to pull on just in case.

The more I write myself in circles, I think of recent storylines like Birthright, Earth One, New 52 ongoing story-arcs, For Tomorrow, Last Son and Superman: Brainiac. The trailer has small hints from a few of them.
In conclusion, for those of you that haven’t fallen asleep, or clicked over to Cosplay girls, I suspect we’ll see Braniac alongside Zod and Faora at a minimum. I think subplots involving Luther will develop and hints of Metallo and maybe Doomsday will come forth. I know everyone loves Darkseid, but I can’t envision him existing in this world. He’s too “big”. It would take a half a movie to explain Darkseid, and another half to explain Apokolips, and then there are mother boxes, and Omega beams to deal with. It’s too complicated. The villains I’ve talked about have relatively simple origins to explore. Brainiac and Luther are core characters in Superman’s world. Their backgrounds can be fleshed out over a several movies. But most importantly, I don’t think we’ll get a slew of movies that all start with alien invaders landing on Earth, so these are some of the alternatives that I think Nolan and his camp would consider.

Bring on the Boy Scout!

The End
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Filed Under "Superman" 12/25/2012
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AC1 - 12/25/2012, 5:22 PM
@JokerFanHAhaHA Nolan also developed the story with David S Goyer, while Goyer wrote the script which was then rewritten by Kurt Johnstad
DrDoom - 12/25/2012, 6:06 PM
Bizarro sucks. Zod is meh. I wantz Metallo.
kenjim152 - 12/25/2012, 7:30 PM
Man i am so much looking forward to this movie; I looked in to writing credits and they are all Nolan's and Goyer's.
bs77 - 12/25/2012, 9:29 PM
First off, this is not a love letter to Chris Nolan. From what I've read, Nolan has been a major influence in the story development, which seems to be a prerequisite for him to do any projects. Nolan, Goyer and the other Nolan often conspire to create the story that eventually is handed to a screenwriter. Screenwriters adapt material, they don't typically create it. Nolan is knee deep in this Superman movie even if only listed as a producer.

Secondly, I meant no disrespect to Zach Snyder. He appears to be an up and coming director with some visual flare. Unfortuntately, his successes were out and out straight adaptations of graphic novels that were already successful, 300 and Watchmen. I'm not saying it doesn't take talent to turn 2D medium into live action, but those novels were a huge guide to follow. I hope Zach outs his stamp on this MOS movie and proves to be a great director. I only omitted his name from the bulk of this article because I think Snyder is merely the teller of the story, not the writer.

Thanks for reading my long drawn out article. I appreciate it. I wrote it a week ago and the more I thought on it, the more ideas began to bounce around my brain.
GetsugaTensho22 - 12/26/2012, 2:36 AM
Army of loyal little bastard fans?
Jeez man, Somebody sounds a little insecure and paranoid lol
6of13 - 12/26/2012, 5:00 AM
I agree with many points in your article. However, I think Brainiac cannot manipulate Lex without Lex realising that is what he is doing. Lex is way too smart to not be able to immediately see that he is being manipulated. So, I would say if Brainiac wanted to use Lex he would have to have some sort of leverage. For example, if I was Brainiac and I need Lex's help, I would infect him with some kind of nano virus and would offer him a cure in exchange for his resources or help.
bs77 - 12/26/2012, 8:25 AM

I'm not pretending anything. Nolan is a collaborator on the story, and he produces the film. His ideas will be prominent in the movie. I don't know where you get your percentages because I haven't seen any WB news release detailing how much was contributed by each person. Whether we like it or not, Chris Nolan is WB's boy right now. When he's involved on a project he has full creative freedom, that's no secret. I believe that Goyer is mainly there to serve the characters and inject some of the existing source material into the overall story so that it has some familiar connections with the stories we all know and grew up with. As for the direction of the story and how characters will ultimately unfold, I think Nolan takes the lead.

Yes, WB puts Nolan's name front and center to sell tickets. Can you blame them? No-one complained when the name Spielberg was slapped on everything for 3 decades, as director and/or producer. Hollywood is selling something first and foremost, and the best thing WB has going for it right now is Chris Nolan. But that aside, I'm just a guy that's excited for MOS and was thinking about how other characters might be integrated into this next movie. I merely mention the fact that Nolan's involvement is sure to throws us a twist or two, and sneak some extra villains into the mix in a way that is different and more plausible that what the comics usually entail.


I totally agree with you about Lex. I had about another paragraph addressing the Lex knowing he was manipulated part, but for the sake of keeping this under 10 pages, I left it out. I think we'd definitely get an interesting development between Lex and Brainiac, where Brainiac would concede too much to Lex under the assumption he'll be the victor in the end, but Lex would put a real wrinkle in things once he realizes Brainiac is not just here to kill Superman, but to destroy humanity as well. The interesting thing about your idea with nano-virus is that it reminds of the animatedshow where Lex and Brainiac join as a hybrid. I was thinking of that while I wrote this... if Brainiac is in the movie and is defeated... Lex using the Brainiac remains to augment himself would be an interesting way to end the movie.
THORION76 - 12/26/2012, 9:23 AM
MOS - Zod with some Luthor waiting for his chance.

MOS 2 - Luthor gets supes DNA and creates a reallistic Bizzaro. they have an earth shaking battle that levels a few small mountains and awakens Doomsday. The last 30 minutes Supes/ Bizzaro battle Doomsday to the death. Finish the movie with the funeral.

MOS 3 - Superman - Darksied - Doomsday.

With those heavy hitters as villians they will need the Justice League.
Brainiac13 - 12/26/2012, 2:22 PM
Nice write up. I have a feeling Brainiac will appear in some sort of capacity. Also Metallo would be a military creation like the comics. I don't believe that only Zod will b the only villain.
DCfan89 - 12/27/2012, 12:55 AM
nice article... but Darkseid is a must.. wether he's in the third/final MOS installment or in the Justice League movie.. he is a must.
THORION76 - 12/27/2012, 9:14 AM





Superman8 - 12/27/2012, 10:29 AM
Really enjoyed this article. Very much agree with you on the Luthor and Brainiac stuff.

I for one think Luthor is a MUST, and will be introduced in a similar way the Joker was hinted at at the end of Batman Begins. That way you can lead right into the Luthor stuff on the sequel, then start bringing in the Brainiac stuff.

Not to sure about the Parasite and Bizarro stuff. I just don't know if those characters fit into a 'realistic' Superman world that it seems they are going for here.

As far as Darkseid goes, I hope they don't use him for one reason, people will automatically draw comparisons to Thanos in the Avengers and people will bash DC even more for copy-catting Marvel. (even though that is completely absurd)

I hope Man of Steel will introduce the Brainiac AI in the Krpton origin stuff, then mention him a little bit with all Zod's ships and tech, but never really refer to him as a character, or show him in android form. Then again, at the end, refer to LexCorp, or even have Lex appear at the end.

Then you have Luthor and Brainiac semi setup for the sequel.
Superman8 - 12/27/2012, 10:36 AM
Oh shit, forgot about Doomsday.

To keep it simple, it kind of all depends on what they do/if they do a Justice League film.

If that film is going to work, it will have to bring in big villains. And out of the JL, I would Superman's rogues gallery would bring the most threat.

So if they go Man of Steel first with Zod, then JL with say Darkseid, then you're already out 2 of his most powerful villains for a sequel.

So then let's say they do Luthor/Brainiac in the MOS sequel, then they do a JL sequel, who's the villain in that? If they don't bring Doomsday in for that, i'd be all for him being the villain in a hopeful Superman 3.

This is all just guess work at this point since we haven't even seen Man of Steel, or even really had any official news on Justice Leauge, but IF they did everything right with Man of Steel, Justice League, and a Man of Steel and JL sequel, bring on Doomsday.
Opt1mu5Pr1m4l - 12/29/2012, 3:25 AM
To keep it simple just stop with the speculation and just watch the damn movie.
JosephKing - 12/30/2012, 11:05 AM
Ok, as a film student, I'll try to explain it in a very didactic way.

When someone has "story credits" it means he wrote or helped to write the story. The story is like a summary of what you'll see in the movie, what will happen and that kind of stuff.

The script is the detailed story. The screenwriter is the guy who will create the scenes, dialogues, is the guy who will make the story happen. A good screenwriter can tell a simple story in a complex way.

So, let's stop in here for a moment: Man of Steel is Goyer's idea. He was the one who already had a story for the movie before someone's involvement. He told it to Chris Nolan, and Nolan gave some ideas. So they finished the story together. Then Goyer wrote the script. So it's pretty obvious that this is more Goyer's work than Nolan's. It does not mean Nolan is irrelevant, it just means that Goyer was the architect and Nolan was his sort of sidekick.

Now, let's talk about producers and directors. The producer is who owns the movie as a product (that's why when a movie wins a Best Movie Oscar, the prize goes to the producers). The producer's creative participation varies from film to film. Some producers gives autonomy to the director, some producers are just morons who wants to command everything. I don't believe Nolan is the moron kind, especially as he has said several times that this is Snyder's movie. So his participation seems to be more "this is cool, this is not" than "do as I command, your fool!".

And now, the star of the show: the director. The director is the guy who tells the story as a movie, as images and sound. The director is the guy who says "Let's do it this way". He can change or leave out scenes and lines, he's the one who can say to the actor: "In the script, this is a very dramatic scene and your character says it with a tearful tone. But I don't like that, it's not like we're developing it in the movie, so say it like a comedy. Feel free to decide the exact tone, but try to be fun". The director is also the guy who tells the DP, the art director, the costume designer, etc. what's the kind of visual he wants to see. Like: "I want this movie to be dark and violent. So try to play games with colors like black an red. Design something and show me, let's discuss it. Mr. DP, today we're going to shoot the scene where the villain kills the hero's mother. I've been thinking in showing the whole action through the door. How can we illuminate the scene and what angle do you suggest? Let's discuss this."
The director is also the guy who sits with the editor and says: "I want the story to be nonlinear, different from the script. So let's shuffle the narrative."

So, basically, is the director who says HOW the story will be told in all it's cinematic aspects - images and sound, not only lines and described actions as the script.

Zack Snyder is the guy who will do that in Man of Steel. It's HIS movie. Nolan can give ideas and make some demands as a producer, but he can't (or, at least, won't) be on set telling Snyder how to shoot the movie. Nolan is the guy who probably told to Snyder when hired him: "This is a more realistic take on Superman, that's what Goyer thought, that's what I think is cool and that's why we're making this movie", and Snyder said: "Ok, that's awesome. Now get out of here and let me shoot it, I will show realism from MY perspective".

So, folks, that is, in a very summary and didactic form how things works in a movie production.
Superman8 - 12/30/2012, 12:26 PM

very, very informative. clears a lot of things up.

thanks for the info.
bs77 - 1/1/2013, 10:40 PM
Anyone read the new Superman Earth 1 Vol 2? It had an interesting take on Parasite, and it introduced the Luthor's as scientists who were working on a device that counters the yellow sun's radiation. They had deduced that Superman may get his powers from radiation stored in his cells... I thought the way they were introduced in the book as background characters involved with CADMUS was nice... and they used Parasite as a test subject after he had siphoned Superman's powers thinking they could gauge Superman. A story along these lines would make a much better plot down the road than just bringing kryptonite into the picture as his major weakness.
DCfan89 - 1/1/2013, 11:13 PM
first movie - Zod
second - Braniac/Luthor
third - Darkseid

if Darkseid is indeed the justice league villain, then maybe luthor/braniac or parasite then braniac for the third

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