Zack Snyder wanted Daniel Day-Lewis to play General Zod

Daniel Day Lewis as Zod
Daniel Day-Lewis and Michael Shannon as Zod Pic credit: Warner Bros

How do you say “I drink your milkshake” in Kryptonian?

As his long-awaited cut of Justice League debuts on HBO Max, Zack Snyder is opening up about some of the long-range plans he had for the DCEU. 

Among them is Snyder confirming the long-standing rumors that he wrote the role of General Zod in Man of Steel for none other than Daniel Day-Lewis. 

Zod’s rise

While he rarely appeared in the Superman comics, Zod became a legend when he was featured as the main villain of Superman II. Memorably played by Terrence Stamp, Zod was a fearsome rogue Kryptonian general whose “Kneel before Zod!” cry impressed generations of moviegoers. 

In Man of Steel, Zod (played by Michael Shannon) sees Krypton’s destruction coming and attempts a coup on the ruling council. Zod intends to save Krypton but on his terms by only sparing those he believes “worthy” of surviving under his rule. 

After killing Jor-El (Russell Crowe), Zod is captured, and he and his followers are exiled into the Phantom Zone, an other-dimensional prison. When Krpyon’s explosion frees them, Zod makes his way to Earth which he intends to terraform into a new Krypton.

This leads to an epic battle in Metropolis against Superman where, in a very controversial moment, Kal-El snaps Zod’s neck to stop him from killing civilians. 

In Batman v Superman, Lex Luthor uses Zod’s body to create the monstrous Doomsday who kills Superman in battle. 

Day-Lewis was Snyder’s choice

Phantom Thread
Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread. Pic credit: Focus Features

Snyder finally admitted to MTV News that he had written the role of Zod in hopes of getting Day-Lewis, one of his favorite actors, to play the character. 

“You can talk about Daniel Day-Lewis as an actor and he can play any part he wants.  If Daniel Day-Lewis called you up and said, like, ‘I want to be in your movie. So, I want to be Lois Lane.’ You’d be, like… ‘Yeah, ok. It’s a take I wasn’t prepared for, but yes. Yeah, we did talk. We had hoped that Daniel Day-Lewis would be interested in the movie.

The idea of Day-Lewis in any Hollywood blockbuster, let alone Man of Steel, is interesting. The three-time Oscar winner is famous for being very selective about his roles and announced his retirement from acting after 2017’s The Phantom Thread.

Yet Day-Lewis has specialized in taking on quirky parts, so he might have been intrigued enough to sign on. While Shannon did a fine job as Zod, Snyder’s wish for Day-Lewis in the role might have sparked his DCEU vision up further.

Kylo Ren as Nightwing?

Kylo Ren rises from the sea
House Greyjoy; We Do Not Sow. Pic credit: Star Wars/YouTube

Day-Lewis wasn’t the only possible casting in the DCEU Snyder wanted. The same interview addressed the rumors Snyder wanted Adam Driver to play Nightwing in his Batman movie. 

The original Robin, Dick Grayson, eventually grew out of Batman’s shadow to take on his own costumed identity as Nightwing. Batman v Superman revealed the Joker had killed Robin but didn’t relate whether it was Dick or his successor, Jason Todd. 

The current Titans TV series has Dick (Brenton Thwaites) beginning as an older Robin but taking on the Nightwing costume in the second season finale.

Driver would have been an intriguing casting as this would have been before his fame as Kylo Ren in the Star Wars sequels, but it appears it was never meant to be.

When pressed, Snyder simply said, “I did talk to Adam Driver about a role, but it wasn’t Nightwing.”

These casting tidbits add more fuel to the discussions on how Snyder’s vision for the DCEU might have been even more epic. 

Justice League the Snyder Cut now streaming on HBO Max. 

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