In Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, Richard Schiff portrayed Emil Hamilton. Emil was a S.T.A.R Labs scientist working alongside the government at a polar campsite who gets caught up in one of the most colossal events of mankind — the first contact with extra terrestrial life.
In the comics, Emil Hamilton is in a similar position. However, the character really didn’t become popular until Superman: The Animated Series where he was voiced by Victor Brandt. In the series, he would help Superman with creating technologically advanced defenses and items to help against his foes, as well as a working Phantom Zone generator. The character would later return in Justice League Unlimited, but he had begun working for Amanda Waller and made a clone of Supergirl named Galatea, who looked a lot like Power Girl. This version of Emil wasn’t quite hugely developed, but it introduced the character and what he’s capable of to the audience.
The character would then again be seen in Smallville, this time a medical doctor at Metropolis General played by Alessandro Juliani. Coincidentally, Juliani was also in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen for a few seconds as well as Man of Steel, working alongside Richard Schiff’s Emil Hamilton at the polar camp site. In short, the character wasn’t new to the general audience and there have been quite a number of appearances over the years.
Thankfully for Schiff, he didn’t need to fight a long list of candidates for the role of Emil Hamilton. In an interview with IAMRogue while filming, Schiff revealed that our beloved director Zack Snyder offered it to him long after they had begun filming the movie, saying ” It was just offered to me, I had never met Zack before and knew nothing about it actually. They offered it and they were in talks, negotiating or whatever, and they wouldn’t send me the script. They were so secretive that I couldn’t read the script.” and eventually history was made. Whilst his character was somewhat kept secret, it was very clear from the beginning he would be playing Emil Hamilton. However, the fans had no idea how important of a role the character would play and how involved with Superman he would be. In the end, Schiff did share scenes with star Henry Cavill in the final act.
In the film, Schiff’s version of Emil Hamilton is actually quite essential and he brings a little bit of depth to the character as well. His version of Emil is very curious about Zod, and everything else that’s happening to the Earth. He’s also a genius and is very critical in helping Superman defeat the Kryptonian invasion. The character starts out at the polar site working alongside Lois Lane and Colonel Hardy, but is quickly amazed when Superman activates an old Kryptonian exploration ship hidden under a giant iceberg. Emil, Hardy and the rest of the team made a cover story about what they saw that night until Zod invaded the Earth. Emil Hamilton was officially recruited on the project and helped interrogate Superman at the military stronghold. Overall, Emil’s vast curiosity in alien life led him to being the most important piece in stopping Zod’s destruction of Earth.
It’s him who reveals Zod’s plan to terraform Earth into another version of Krypton and it’s him who creates the plan to nuke the Black Zero in Metropolis. For the haters who think Superman is nothing but a murderer, you could say that the real hero of the film is Emil Hamilton, who sacrifices himself to activate Clark’s shuttle to nuke the Black Zero, sending him and Faora and the ship back into the Phantom Zone. Unfortunately, it was too late for Superman to save either Colonel Hardy or Emil Hamilton.
Emil Hamilton may not have had the most screentime in Man of Steel, but he certainly was important and his presence was felt with such a fantastic actor as Richard Schiff portraying the famous scientist. We are very confident his death is certainly not in vain, considering S.T.A.R Labs will be creating Cyborg in this film universe. Additionally, who knows, maybe Emil could perhaps return to the film universe considering he is such an integral Superman character. After all, he was only sucked into the Phantom Zone and there was seemingly no evidence he was killed. If you want to know more about Schiff and his experience on Man of Steel, buy the Blu-Ray and check out the “Maximum Movie Mode”. He appears quite a bit on it.