How Michael Shannon Will Be a Bad Guy in the New Superman Movie

The Chicago actor’s past roles offer a clue as to how he’ll play the Man of Steel’s nemesis, the dastardly General Zod.

Michael Shannon as General Zod in ‘Man of Steel’

Photography: (from top) courtesy of Warner Brothers pictures; Lions Gate/Courtesy of Everett Collection; Dreamworks/Courtesy of Everett Collection; Macall B. Polay/©HBO/Courtesy of Everett Collection;
courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures
 

Add one more face to moviedom’s rogues’ gallery of supervillains. Ace thespian (and A Red Orchid Theatre cofounder) Michael Shannon takes on the role of General Zod, Superman’s nemesis, in the hugely anticipated Man of Steel (out June 14). It’s the same diabolical part that Terence Stamp originated in 1978’s classic Superman—and Shannon’s highest-profile role to date.

With Stamp’s turn so indelible (“Kneel before Zod!”), whoever followed had his work cut out for him. Shannon, 38—who is quickly becoming Hollywood’s go-to character actor—has remained almost completely mum about his approach to the role. But after watching all of the movie’s promos and, oh, every single one of the 25 Shannon projects available on Netflix (skip Kangaroo Jack), here’s what you can expect.

The intensity Given that Zod is hell-bent on capturing Superman, even at the cost of destroying Earth, Shannon will likely channel the tenseness of the mentally ill Peter Evans from 2006’s Bug, who convinces Ashley Judd her house is infested with insects.

The attitude One Man of Steel promo spot cuts to a cocky Zod taunting (presumably Mama Kent), “You think your son is safe?” Think of the cutting monologue from his Oscar-nominated role in Revolutionary Road.

The voice If you’re a Boardwalk Empire fan, the Man of Steel promo released in April sounded familiar. Shannon’s Zod voice is just as menacing as his Boardwalk character, federal agent Nelson Van Alden—the early seasons, that is.

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Superbad

Michael Shannon in ‘Bug’
 
Michael Shannon in ‘Revolutionary Road’
 
Michael Shannon in ‘Boardwalk Empire’
 
Michael Shannon in ‘Man of Steel’
Bug’s controlling psychopath
+
Revolutionary Road’s creepy neighbor
+
Boardwalk Empire’s disciplined agent
=
General Zod

 

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