With Michael Shannon set to reprise the role of General Zod in 2023’s The Flash, fans of the DCEU have gone back to Man of Steel to reassess the esteemed actor’s performance. Others have gone back even further and explored the character’s history in comics, television, and movies.
While General Zod lacks the presence of Superman villains such as Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and Brainiac, the power-hungry Kryptonian has still proved an important aspect of the Superman canon. This can be evidenced by the number of memes that have been made featuring the character and his iconic lines.
If General Zod were to be summed up in one line, it’d be with the iconic “Kneel Before Zod” from Superman II. It’s full of confidence, arrogance, and so much intimidation, hence the reason it’s been adapted into several memes.
What makes the selected meme especially impactful is the fact that it uses his iconic line to offer a more nuanced understanding of the character. He isn’t just someone who wishes to make slaves out of everyone, he has to prove how much better he is than everyone around him.
9/10 Kryptonian Of The Year
Despite the perception of Zod as a one-note villain with obvious authoritarian desires, his character is far more nuanced than many give him credit for. He’s someone who desires for his planet to prosper, has respect for scientists like Jor-El (depending on the continuity), and cares for his soldiers.
Because of the various aspects of Zod’s personality, he was a popular figure on Krypton. The signs might have always been present that he was power hungry, but people chose to ignore them because of how likable and wholesome Zod was.
8/10 Zod The Builder
Despite being a military genius and master tactician, Zod’s attempt to take control of Krypton was not very thought out. It came at a time when the planet was on the brink of collapse.
While Krypton’s destruction was beneficial in Zod’s attempted coup, the military leadership failed to realize that his efforts wouldn’t have done anything to reverse the death of the planet. If anything Zod’s revolution may have further doomed the planet as Jor-El had to help put an end to the general’s coup when he could have spent more time developing an escape system.
7/10 Zod Thinks He’s Special
Using one of several iconic scenes from the third season of The Office, the__spc’s meme is subtle compared to Zod’s nature but says much about the character and his relationship with Superman.
In Zod’s view, the fact that he (and Superman) have powers on Earth is a sign that they are special. He believes that their powers make them better than others, yet Superman can’t help but disapprove of Zod’s ego and find the General’s machinations to be annoying.
6/10 Zod The All-Powerful
Comparing any comic book figure to a real-world politician is bound to garner controversy, but one thing that can be agreed on about the former US president is that he was arrogant. It’s a trait that was abundantly clear in many of the ex-president’s remarks, and one that also defines General Zod as a character.
Like Donald Trump, General Zod believed himself to be superior to everyone around him. Such arrogance ultimately led to Zod’s downfall in the Superman movies.
5/10 Three Sides Of The Same Coin
While The Boys and Invincible are built around the idea of a world where Superman acted in a more “realistic” fashion, the way Homelander and Omni-Man behave is more reminiscent of Zod than the Man of Steel. This is made especially evident in the above meme.
The important thing that Zod shares in common with Homelander is that he views himself as superior to humanity and believes he should be worshiped as a god. This is in stark contrast to Superman, who, despite having the same powers as Zod, sees himself as being no better than any other person on Earth thanks to his superhero origins as Clark Kent.
4/10 Zod Can’t Beat Family
General Zod’s main goal in The Man of Steel is to bring about Krypton’s revival. This is made abundantly clear throughout the movie, yet his loss confounds viewers nearly a decade after the film’s release.
While the above meme can’t entirely explain why Zod lost in Man of Steel, it does work to explain why the character in general (across multiple mediums) has never been able to conquer the Earth. He fails to understand that Superman fights for Earth because of family, hence the reason he can never persuade the Man of Tomorrow to join his side.
3/10 Failing To Blend In
Unlike Superman, General Zod has never tried to hide his presence on Earth. He won’t try to put on a disguise to blend in with the local populace, and he’ll blatantly use his awesome, Kryptonian superpowers out in the open.
By poking fun at Zod’s attire in Superman II, TonySeptim’s meme highlights just how much of a fish out of water Zod is on Earth. He has no awareness of how silly he looks, nor does he care, given that he plans to subjugate the populace and make them his slaves.
2/10 Quick To Judge
General Zod is one of the most arrogant Superman villains in comics, and such arrogance can be found in how hastily he judges everyone around him. He finds Superman weak because he cares about humanity, he believes that the council of Krypton are foolish because they don’t listen to him, and he thinks Earth is primitive because of its people.
Cshelton002’s meme does an especially good job of portraying Zod’s judgemental nature given that it equates the general to Leonardo DiCaprio in Django Unchained. In both cases, each character is given their comeuppance because their first impressions about others lead to them becoming cocky in their actions.
While General Zod generally doesn’t care about the people he plans to put under his rule, he does care about how his leadership is perceived by those around him. This is made abundantly clear in the above meme.
Though Zod’s feelings about how he’s perceived might come across as contradictory to his no-nonsense attitude, they make sense in the context of Zod’s greatest desires. He’s a man driven by ego, and desires for his legacy to be remembered for generations to come, hence his cry of heresy when his character is attacked.