As much as I love Terence Stamp’s performance in Superman II, Man of Steel’s Zod is just better.
Compared to Michael Shannon's Zod in Man of Steel, Terence Stamp's Zod looks like a Muppet Baby.
British actor Terence Stamp played General Zod in the 1978 film Superman and Superman II (1980). In Total Film's list of "Top 50 Greatest Villains Of All Time" Terence Stamp's version of Zod is #32 on the list. In IGN's list of the "Top 100 Comic Book Villains" they said "Stamp is Zod." But they were wrong.
Here are eight reasons that the 2013 version of General Zod looks, sounds and acts more evil than the 1978 version of General Zod.
1. The Plan
First, let’s focus on Zod’s plan. In Superman, and Superman II, his plan was to conquer a world. First, he tried and failed to take over Krypton. Then, he took over Earth. But it wasn’t a well-thought out plan. After he conquered Earth, he complained about being bored. So what was his plan? To just keep fighting until he died?
He didn’t have a plan for rule or anything. He just conquered. Seneca once said, "No wind is favorable to a ship without a destination." So, Stamp's Zod blows.
Compare that to General Zod in Man of Steel. He wasn’t interested in ruling anyone. His real goal was to preserve Kryptonian culture and legacy. If he succeeded, Kryptonians would rule the galaxy again and he could go back to being a military commander. If he failed, his whole way of life would be destroyed.
When his coup failed, he tried to recover what was left of the Kryptonian colonies. When that failed, he tried to recover the Codex and terraform Earth into a new Krypton.
This was a real goal and not some vague wish. Man of Steel’s Zod was focused Baby.
2. Kneel Before Zod
Zod was blinded by revenge in Superman II. He was so focused on having one man pledge allegiance to him that he gave up everything in the pursuit of that goal. Zod was tricked into being destroyed just on the hope that Jor-El’s son would kneel before him.
Zod in Man of Steel was pursuing Kal-El, but not out of blind revenge. He needed Kal-El to recover the Codex and follow his real goal of rebuilding Krypton.
He wasn’t above revenge though. Given the chance, he relished telling Jor-El how his son would die, and he was tried to kill an innocent family just to hurt Superman. That lead to his death though. So this was another lesson that revenge is not a worthwhile goal. Shannon's Zod was not blinded by revenge.
3. Knowledge of Astronomy
Ok. Knowledge of astronomy isn't a requirement for a military leader, but Terence Stamp played Zod like a buffoon who had no idea of the basics of astronomy. He says Earth has a lot of water, not because he was in the ocean, but in a lake. He could see the land! Plus, when they were flying from the moon to Earth he must have seen the ratio of land and water.
Man of Steel's Zod was knowledgeable of space travel and piloted his ship across the stars to visit other colonies. Plus, he was smart enough to wear a suit when exploring dangerous atmospheres.
4. General Zod's Costume
Superman II's General Zod wears a fashionable black blouse with a plunging neckline and leather pants. Man of Steel's Zod wears a suit of armor. No contest. Prince dresses scarier than Zod.
5. Facial Hair
Terence Stamp has a goatee which is the symbol of evil since Star Trek: The Original Series. It worked for Spock.
Michael Shannon's General Zod has a soul patch. But! It has cool white hair that makes his beard look evil. Kind of like fangs. So Shannon's beard trumps Stamp's.
All truly evil guys wear capes. Dracula. Darth Vader. Death. The list goes on and on. Man of Steel's Zod has a cape. For the win.
7. The Army
Man of Steel's General Zod got closer to taking over Krypton because he had an actual army. You know. With ships and guns. He had a large group of followers and weapons he used to stage his military coup.
Superman II's Zod had two guys: One was a hot sociopath and the other was a mute idiot. You couldn't ask for a worse army. Is that the best the former protector of the planet could do? It doesn't say much for his leadership skills.
8. The Accent
Okay. This one is almost a tie. Terence Stamp has an amazingly evil British accent. He could read the phone book and send chills down your back.
Michael Shannon has a Chicago accent. It's true that he sounds like one of SNL's "Bill Swerski's Super Fans," but when he yells he's going to kill your son, you believe him. That's the true power of evil.
Terence Stamp's portrayal of Zod was perfect for it's time. Man of Steel's General Zod is just better because he looks cooler, fights better and is smart enough to get the job done.
What do you think? Am I right? Is Man of Steel's General Zod better than Superman II's General Zod?
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