Often in social environments, there is a struggle between those who want to influence their peers, some positively and others by force. In the film Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder, this idea stands as a major theme behind the character motivations. With the film being based on the early life and rise of Superman as a member of earth, there is a battle between what are perceived to be “good” and “evil”, with both sides forming their own leadership styles. The protagonist, Superman, his father, Jor-El, and adopted father, Johnathan, all have built ideals that they believe will benefit the people of Earth and Krypton. On the opposite spectrum, the antagonist General Zod has constructed a belief that the people of Earth and Krypton can be controlled, ruled, and destroyed out of fear and power.

Superman was raised under the impression that he was destined for a greater purpose on Earth, and he was going to change the way people see themselves. His father, Jor-El sent Superman to Earth, knowing he would be a god among humans, in hopes that he would form an ideal to strive towards and lead humans not through force, but through example and impression. Humans naturally gravitate towards a greater power, and Superman works to lead them by helping, teaching, and setting standards to reach towards, following the definition of a truly effective leader. This is one who does not force “influence”, does not control, and allows their followers to learn and become leaders themselves. He works to make himself happy by helping others in any way he can. There is no monetary or physical benefit, only inherent happiness.

General Zod, on the other hand, believes himself to be an effective leader based on his military status on Kypton. His goal is to rebuild Krypton on the ruins of Earth, using human death as a foundation. Despite his desire to wipe out humanity, his views were not necessarily evil, as he was simply trying to save his race from extinction. However, a leader’s views should not be imposed. There should not be force involved otherwise leadership values are deconstructed into desires and inquisitions. While the ultimate goal, like Superman’s, is happiness, the way to achieve it is through personal gain rather than help others. Zod lacks a full spectrum of views and opinions and is blinded by his own desire to rebuild his life. He leads his soldiers blindly into a fight for his own survival.

The difference between the mentalities of Superman and Zod demonstrate the contrast between supposed leaders. Superman effectively leads through example and gives the people of Earth hope. His ultimate goal his happiness, which is to be achieved by helping others achieve their goals and, in the words of his father, “set an ideal to strive towards”. Zod is power-hungry and dismisses the immoralities of genocide in order to achieve his ultimate goal of personal advancement at the hand of his followers. He does not look to help others but to rebuild a delusional utopia for himself. A leader takes in as much information as possible and uses it to assist others and promote self-awareness and personal motivation, laying groundwork for followers growing into new leaders, Superman laying foundation for the people of Earth, and an eventual merge of two races.

Comments (3)

  1. Thomas Olsen


    I love the contrast between the two viewpoints and leadership styles. I need to go back and watch Man of Steel again!

  2. Reply

    The above story illustrates the two different styles of leadership Superman and Zod are using to lead the humans.
    The style used by Zod of control is ineffective in reality. We as humans, are better lead by leaders that use Superman’s approach.
    his approach of helping others is a more effective method of teaching rather than by force.

  3. Vijayanand Narasimhamoorthi


    ‘Set an ideal to strive towards’. This means a lot. According to this article, it says that Superman achieves his own happiness by helping others. This is the best way to lead people unlike General Zod who dictates what to be done, taking authority by force. A leader helps people with what they want . No sort of influence or control is taking place. Any type of control or influence will always lead to some sort of problems, revolts etc. Thus forcing something on the other will never benefit an individual in any way. This is the main reason behind the fall of General Zod who had good intention to save his race from extinction but by dictating terms and completely wiping out human race from the earth. On the other hand, Superman who gave people on earth a hope for survival has been readily accepted as leader.

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