Secretary of Defense Calvin Swanwick was a Lieutenant General in the United States Army at the time of the Black Zero Event, holding the position of head of United States Northern Command, being is tasked with preventing any possible threats towards the United States and her interests. Hence, he formed an alliance with the alien hero Superman in order to defeat the extreme threat posed by General Zod and the Sword of Rao.
At some point during the two years after the Kryptonian invasion, Swanwick became promoted to United States Secretary of Defense, and he attempted to aid Superman again, this time against the monster Doomsday, though his efforts were ultimately unsuccessful.
General Zod's Message
- "I'm just speculating, but I think whoever's at the helm of that ship is looking to make a dramatic entrance."
- ―Swanwick to Dr. Hamilton[src]
General Swanwick was alerted to the mission control room at Peterson Air Force Base when a huge UFO settled into orbit near Earth. Shortly thereafter, a menacing message was sent all across the Earth from the extraterrestrial General Zod, who demanded that a fellow alien from his planet, a man named Kal-El (who had tried to blend in with Earth's population for decades), be handed into his custody, and that if the latter wasn't turned in to Zod within 24 hours, the entire planet would suffer severe consequences of apocalyptic proportions.
Kal-El's SurrenderKal-El himself arrived at a military base shortly afterwards, surrendering if Lois Lane was to be freed. Kal-El and Lois sat in an interrogation room where the General questioned Kal-El on his motives, before handing him over to General Zod's second-in-command, Sub-Commander Faora, who requested that Lois come too.
Defeating the Invaders
After the Battle of Smallville, Kal-El (now nicknamed "Superman") and Lois came, along with Kal-El's Spaceship, telling the General how to send Zod and his followers back to the Phantom Zone, this time permanently. The plan was to collide the Phantom Drive of Superman's infant starcraft with the Black Zero's, in an attempt to create an unstable Phantom energy singularity, which would suck all of Zod's forces back into the Zone. Before they could do so, however, Superman would have to personally destroy Zod's World Engine and end Earth's terraformation. Swanwick agreed to the plan and ordered the attack, after which Superman promptly took flight to the Indian Ocean.
Ultimately, while the plan was successfully executed (with only General Zod remaining on Earth), it came at the cost of Colonel Hardy and Dr. Hamilton's lives, with only Lois escaping the singularity's pull, due to Superman's timely intervention. Nonetheless, Earth and all of humanity had been saved from the alien invasion.
Official Alliance with Superman
Shortly after the end of the Kryptonian invasion, General Swanwick had drones try to track down Superman's whereabouts, determined to find his address. Superman, however, wasn't pleased, and proceeded to slam one of the drones into the ground, right in front of Swanwick's car, much to the latter's dismay. Superman assured the general that, having grown up in Kansas, he was technically an American himself, so he would never act against the United States' interests. However, while Superman would always remain an ally to both America and all of Earth, he requested that it be done on his own terms, and that he trusted Swanwick's ability to convince Washington D.C. of that. With that said, Superman took flight again at supersonic speeds, leaving Captain Farris smiling, self-admittedly in awe of the handsome alien.
At some point during the two years after the Black Zero Event, Swanwick became promoted from general to United States Secretary of Defense.
Helping Lois Lane
After the incident in Nairomi, Lois Lane approaches Swanwick (meeting him in the men's bathroom), telling him that the bullet that she had obtained in the incident is not made by any known manufacturer. While initially hesitant, Swanwick eventually gives in to Lois's persistent requests, and identifies the bullet's maker. When he meets her next, Swanwick reveals to Lois that it is a special prototype ammunition made by LexCorp Industries.
Battle against Doomsday
Later, after Lex Luthor successfully creates the mighty Kryptonian monster Doomsday, Swanwick, as the Secretary of Defense, communicates with the US President about how to respond to the new threat. The president, in desperation, orders the alien monster to be shot down with a nuclear missile, and while Swanwick protests (not wanting his ally Superman to be killed as well), he is overruled and the missile is fired, colliding with the fighting alien juggernauts right above Earth's atmosphere, and temporarily incapacitating them. However, right after the wounded Doomsday falls all the way back to Earth, he heels and rises up to his feel almost at once, and unleashes a tremendous electrical shock-wave from his body, more powerful than the ones before it. Swanwick gravely notes that Doomsday is apparently unkillable, as the attack has only made it stronger.
At Superman's grandiose military funeral, Swanwick, along with Carrie Farris, is seen among the many that mourn his death. Afterwards, Swanwick is presented the folded American flag that was over Superman's (empty) casket during his military funeral.
Swanwick, while somewhat gruff, is, as an illustrious member of the US Armed Forces, is quite patriotically dedicated to his job and country, even if that sometimes makes him unwilling to compromise said job, notably with his initial unwillingness to speak of Lex Luthor's innovative bullets on record. Swanwick does, however, place national and global security above all else, being more than willing to join forces with Superman (an alien whom he initially mistrusted) and help the latter carry out an elaborate plan, as long as that meant defeating General Zod's invasion.
After Zod's defeat, Swanwick gradually gained a great deal of respect and admiration for Superman, speaking to the US government on the latter's behalf, disbelieving Kahina Ziri's slandering rumors about Nairomi, and covertly helping Lois Lane expose Lex Luthor's involvement. Swanwick displayed his great loyalty to Superman again during the battle with Doomsday, imploring the US president not to nuke the alien hero. Superman's death devastates Swanwick, who shows his immense posthumous respect during the former's military funeral.
Behind the scenes
- At the San Diego Comic Con International 2013, Harry Lennix was bought up on stage by Zack Snyder to read a quote from The Dark Knight Returns (the famous "I want you to remember the one man who beat you" speech) as a logo appeared on-screen, merging the Superman and Batman symbols, thus announcing the Man of Steel sequel to be the very first Superman/Batman film.
- Actor Patrick Wilson is the voice of the President of the United States of America that Secretary Swanwick is reporting too. Patrick Wilson worked with Zack Snyder before, portraying the superhero Nite Owl II in 2009's Watchmen.