In 1980, Superman II hit movie screens. The film – a sequel to 1978’s Superman: The Movie – saw Superman battle three Kryptonian criminals in the shape of General Zod, Ursa and Non.
Throughout the film, the Kryptonian criminals demonstrate they are a force to be reckoned with. They take over the White House, threaten the safety of everyone on the planet, and even beat Superman in combat.
The Kryptonians are finally defeated during Superman II’s grand finale, which takes place in the Fortress of Solitude. In the scene, Superman tricks the Kryptonians into using Fortress technology to remove their own powers, rendering them mortal in the process.
The scene is a great moment in the Superman movie series, and one which brings the Kryptonian reign of terror to an end. But does it also bring an end to General Zod? Does General Zod die in Superman II?
Well, the answer to that question is: It depends on which cut of Superman II you are watching.
In the theatrical cut of Superman II, General Zod dies during the movie’s finale, as does Ursa and Non. After having their powers removed, all three Kryptonians fall to their death in the Fortress of Solitude.
In the Richard Donner Cut of Superman II – aka the director’s cut that was released in 2006 – things pan out a little differently. In this cut, Superman defeats the trio in the same way, but then he turns back time (using the same time-altering technique he employs in Superman: The Movie), to ensure the events of Superman II never take place.
So, in the theatrical cut, Zod, Ursa, and Non die. In the Donner cut, they live and remain trapped in the Phantom Zone.
What’s interesting to note is a third outcome also exists, in which the Kryptonians not only survive the events of Superman II, they are also arrested! This rather bizarre outcome does not feature in the theatrical cut or the Richard Donner Cut, but can instead by found amongst Superman II’s deleted scenes.
The scene takes place shortly after the Kryptonians fall into the depths of the Fortress of Solitude. In the scene, Superman’s enemy, Lex Luthor is trying to bargain with Superman to escape jail.
While Luthor is talking to Superman, the US Arctic Patrol arrive to arrest all of the criminals – this includes Luthor AND the Kryptonians. All three Kryptonians have survived the fall, and as they are now depowered, they are arrested and driven away to pay for their crimes.
This scene was cut from the theatrical release of Superman II because taking the Kryptonians into custody seemed like an odd thing to do. Instead, the choice was made to bring their story to an end, by killing them off and removing them from any future movies.
Of course, had the Kryptonians gone to jail, then it would have meant that Zod survived. But because this scene was removed, Superman was responsible for General Zod’s death – making Superman II a rare film in which Superman kills off one of his adversaries.
I hope this post about Superman II proved useful. For more Super-related content, be sure to check out the recommended reads below.