In Zack Snyder’s 2013 film Man of Steel, General Zod comes to Earth looking for a Kryptonian he believes has the key to bringing his planet back to life. That Kryptonian—Superman—shows himself quickly, setting off a chain of events that ends with Zod and Superman fighting and destroying both a small town and a large part of a city.
In Andy Muschietti’s 2023 film The Flash, General Zod does the same thing. He comes to Earth looking for a crucial Kryptonian, but since this is a multiverse Barry Allen has royally messed up by being there at all, some things go the same, and some things do not. And the way The Flash handles the good, and bad, of what happened in Man of Steel was very on purpose.
One thing that happens similarly in both films is General Zod and his minions unleash the devastating World Engine on Metropolis. However, in Man of Steel, Superman and Zod end up fighting in the same city, causing even more damage than the machine itself. In fact, they cause so much damage that it created some controversy at the time, with some viewers thinking Superman wouldn’t have let the fight continue in the city.
We aren’t going to spoil The Flash but if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen that a big battle with Zod takes place in the film—only, it’s not in the city, it’s out in a desert somewhere. Timing-wise, it’s happening as the World Engine is on, meaning it’s at about the same time Superman and Zod were fighting in the city. We asked the film’s director, Andy Muschietti, if the decision to keep the fight outside of the city had anything at all to do with the backlash.
“Dramatically we use that,” the director told io9. “The death of so many people is used dramatically in our story because basically, it adds to the guilt and the trauma of Barry Allen... Now, having said that, the tone of the movie is different from Man of Steel. And we don’t want to want to, you know, go deeper into that apocalypse. So there it is.”
Yup, there it is. The Flash kept the action away from the city because there were already enough people dying in Metropolis—and Muschietti wanted to use the events of that previous film to his advantage, but also make them his own. Plus, logistically, it was probably way cheaper to film and do visual effects for a battle out in the middle of nowhere than in a big city, though no one is going to actually say that. It’s certainly a nice benefit though.
The Flash opens June 16.
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