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8 Reasons Why 1978's General Zod Sucks Compared to MAN OF STEEL's Zod

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.

6. Cape

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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  1. Two does not an army make!
    No doubt Man of Steel's Zod was better, although I still got a kick out of Terrence Stamp in the role.
    Muppet Baby - that's going to make me chuckle all day...

  2. Geek Soul BrotherJuly 30, 2013 at 9:36 AM

    I'm feeling everything you said except for the accent. Stamp beats Shannon's country lisp by a long-shot hahaha. On the other hand, Costume, Army, Plan are all on point with MoS Zod. But 80s Superman was a comic turned live action. This Superman was an attempt to bring characters into the real world. I give both Zods credit in their respective settings, but Shannon was way more ominous.

  3. I have to agree with your assessment of the 2 Zods. I find that I actually feel for Zod in MOS. He was just doing the job that he was born (Genetically created) to do. "Prince dresses scarier than Zod." Especially the infamous backless chaps!

  4. In all fairness to Stamp's Zod, even a lake is more water than Krypton probably had for millennia.

  5. I do agree with you. Man of Steel's Zod was so awesome as a villain, I almost rooted for him. :-D

  6. arghh.. i love stamp and that other guy too... for their times it worked and the take on Superman was so different... nice comparison. i am not sure you mentioned this... stamp was the voice of jorel in the smallville series.

  7. I completely agree. I loved Stamp for his time, but it such a cheesy 80's take on Zod. I mean he looked like he should be going to a disco. Shannon's Zod was amazingly evil and powerful. The growl and accent were perfect. He does NOT have a country lisp nor does he sound like Bill Swerski as some have pointed out. I'm from Chicago, South Side, and Bill's accent is a comedic exaggeration. No one here sounds that bad. ;)

  8. But the Kneel Before Zod line is more iconic than anything Michael Shannon uttered.

    Left chills.

  10. I liked the new Zod a lot better. I didn't even realize he'd been in the movies before.

  11. I thought they were both terrible, why have Zod as the primary villain at all? He does not show up for like 268 issues of the comic, thats like 22 years of other characters before he shows up.

  12. Good point Tony +1 Stamp, but it still doesn't explain why he was surprised though

  13. He was Jeremy which o thought was incredible

  14. He was groovy for his time Melissa. "Da Bears!"

  15. Also, "you have taken my soul" We'll see if it lasts as long as kneel though.

  16. That's true, but I think the idea of him fighting enemies that have the same powers makes it enticing. Which villain would you use?

  17. "You think you're thon is thafe? I will find him!" LOL Zod was definitely a product of his time

  18. David, why did you put that in my head?! Now I have a backless Zod in there...ew.

  19. Thanks Alex. I'm glad you got the Muppet joke.

  20. LMAO!! Groovy for his time. I hear Donna Summer now..."Looking for some Hot Stuff..."

  21. HouseofZodLovesMaudeMay 18, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Wrong. MOS Zod wanted Earth like Krypton, thus losing his super powers. Original Zod enjoyed his powers.

  22. You made this entire thing pointless when you said "Terrence Stamp's portrayal of General Zod was perfect for the time." Of course it's not gonna hold up now, it was built for the time in which it was made, as is the current Zod

  23. I really liked the new Zod


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