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Is General Zod A More Tragic Antagonist than Killmonger?

General Zod is an even more tragic antagonist than Killmonger.

Sidebar: I refuse to call him Erik Killmonger because Killmonger is not his surname, it’s his code name.

Anyway…

While Erik had every opportunity afforded to him to be the best he could be and had at every turn choices to make. And while he felt emotionally right, while he had hundreds of years of oppressive history backing his belief… and while he died still believing he did the right thing. Erik invariably, inevitably …had a choice.

 

“Bury me in the ocean, with my ancestors that jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.”

This brings us to Zod.

General Zod was not an evil being. General Zod was not even bad or technically wrong. Zod was completely and utterly a product of his time in every sense of that sentence. Zod was a product. He was not born, he was bred. He was put together to serve a particular purpose. He and every soldier in the Kryptonian Army were tools built to serve Krypton with the only fault being that their coding meant they were designed as soldiers, as warriors, as spears not as shields. They used what they were coded to try and give Krypton a new hope. All they knew as being unfortunately coded and bred onlyas instruments of war, was violence. Zod only wanted to give Krypton the chance to live and thrive again.

To put this in context… Zod is as evil as James Buchanan Barnes. Bucky as the Winter Soldier was used to commit unspeakable acts against his will. Unfortunately for Zod, for a being built with a certain code in his very biology, there was no reprogramming, there was no alternative. A good death was a mercy he needed.

General Zod died still believing in that idea, in Krypton. Even when he knew it was gone forever… just like Killmonger. Except unlike Erik, Zod never had a choice. He never had free will. And that makes all the difference in the world.

“I exist only to protect Krypton. That is the sole purpose for which I was born. And every action I take, no matter how violent or how cruel, is for the greater good of my people. And now… I have no people. My soul, that is what you have taken from me!”

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