General Zod in The Flash explained

Michael Shannon as General Zod.Warner Bros.

General Zod shows up to cause chaos in The Flash – here’s everything you need to know about his back-story in the DCEU, plus how Michael Shannon’s character figures into the new movie.

General Zod was introduced in Adventure Comics #283 in April 1961. A Kryptonian villain, he’s traditionally Superman’s nemesis, and is often heard barking his trademark catchphrase “Kneel before Zod!”

General Zod was memorably brought to life by Terence Stamp in Superman II, very nearly defeating the Man of Steel with help from his super-powered cohorts Ursa and Non.

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While Michael Shannon played the character in 2013’s Man of Steel, a version of the character that informs the General Zod we’ll see in The Flash this summer. So the following is a brief explanation of how the character fits into the DCEU.

General Zod in Man of Steel

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel kicks off on Krypton when the planet is on the brink of destruction. General Zod attempts a coup, and kills his old friend Jor-El for not handing over the planet’s Growth Codex. But not before Jor-El has sent both the codex and his infant son Kal-El to Earth.

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Zod is banished to the Phantom Zone for his crimes, but eventually escapes, and follows Kal-El to Earth. This is where he uses a terraforming device to transform the planet into a new Krypton and kills a bunch of humans in the process.

Believing in the superiority of Kryptonians, Zod extracts Kal-El’s genes to create genetically pure colonists. But Superman (as he’ll soon be christened) fights back, destroying terraforming device the World Engine, and ultimately killing Zod by snapping his neck.

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The character then reappears – kind-of – in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While studying General Zod’s corpse, Lex Luthor realises that exposure to Kryptonian cells could weaken Superman. He then genetically modifies Zod to create Doomsday, the supervillain that ultimately kills Superman. Briefly.

General Zod in The Flash

Thanks to time-travel and timeline shenanigans, General Zod is the main villain in The Flash. Endeavouring to terraform earth, just like he did in Man of Steel.

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Barry Allen travels back in time early in The Flash, to the day that Zod invades. But due to the multiverse, this is a world where the metahumans that Barry Allen is friends with don’t exist.

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We learn that Zod has already killed baby Kal-El, long before he has a chance to become Superman. And now he wants Kal-El’s cousin Kara Jor-El, whom he sees as the only chance for Krypton’s rebirth.

So much of the movie’s climax revolves around Kara/Supergirl, doing battle with Zod alongside a pair of Flashes, and Michael Keaton’s Batman. Zod beats and batters them, even killing some of their number. Which leads to more time-travel action, which this time has devastating consequences. Though when asked about these branching timelines, star Michael Shannon doesn’t sound all that convinced.

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“It’s just really different – these kind of multiverse situations,” Shannon told The Playlist in a recent interview. “The story is a lot more all over the place, you know? And I feel like I mainly exist in The Flash as, like, an obstacle or a problem. Whereas, in Man of Steel, it was more of a story. Like, The Flash is definitely about The Flash – as it should be. So, it’s not as in-depth.”

This article was updated on June 14, 2023, with Flash spoilers.

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For more on the The Flash, check out the below articles:

The Flash review | | Best Easter Eggs | Where’s Wonder Woman?Everything we know about The Flash 2 | Who is General Zod? | Is Nic Cage in The Flash? | Flashpoint explained | Who are Albert Desmond and Patty Spivot? | Barry Allen x 2 | How many Batmans are in The Flash? | Speed Force guide | Who is Dark Flash? | Story of Superman Lives Secret villain revealed? | Supergirl explained | Who does in The Flash? | Ending explained | Is Aquaman in The Flash?The Flash budget | Soundtrack and songs | Is Superman in The Flash?Post-credits scene explained |

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