Hey DC: Keep Zack Snyder Away From Your Superheroes

Posted: May 3, 2016 in Comic Book Breakdowns, Comic Book News
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WARNING: Minor spoilers ahead

Ever since 2012’s lackluster Man of Steel first arrived on the scene, DC has been struggling to gain better reviews and more support from audiences and critics alike, especially now that the terribly received (but financially successful) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has hit the market. Zack Snyder, who directed both of these films, has made somewhat bizarre statements while defending his work in the past, including a claim that his version of Superman in Man of Steel was comic accurate, as well as trying to compare body counts between his film and Star Wars.

The last link is especially ironic, since many fans have compared Snyder’s Superman to a villain, while Snyder himself compares the destruction Superman caused during the fight with Zod (a fight he could have easily kept away from Metropolis, by the way) to the Empire destroying planets in Star Wars. Please keep in mind that the Empire are the bad guys in those films Mr. Snyder, they’re supposed to cause collateral damage. Heroes at least try to keep collateral damage to the barest minimum while they’re saving lives, not go and start crashing their enemies into populated areas.

While many have been struggling to figure out exactly why both of Snyder’s DC films have such dark and hopeless versions of DC’s most popular characters, an interview with the director himself from 2008 has recently resurfaced and should clear everything right up. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly on his then upcoming film Watchmen, Snyder stated the following:

I had a buddy who tried getting me into “normal” comic books, but I was all like, “No one is having sex or killing each other. This isn’t really doing it for me.” I was a little broken, that way. So when Watchmen came along, I was, “This is more my scene.”

Everyone says that about [Christopher Nolan’s] Batman Begins. “Batman’s dark.” I’m like, okay, “No, Batman’s cool.” He gets to go to a Tibetan monastery and be trained by ninjas. Okay? I want to do that. But he doesn’t, like, get raped in prison. That could happen in my movie. If you want to talk about dark, that’s how that would go.

Batman getting raped in prison is a thing that could happen? What? While you read through the linked interview, keep in mind that Snyder is supposed to be DC’s answer to Joss Whedon/the Russo brothers. The man Warner Bros.and DC are putting in charge of their heroes, who couldn’t even get into comics like the ones he’s adapting because there wasn’t any sex or death in them, is now in charge of the Dark Knight, the Man of Steel, and the rest of the Justice League (and technically the entire DCEU). Yay?

Since this interview first resurfaced, a number of DC and Zack Snyder fans began critiquing both of the above quotes, as well as the people who bring up “old” interviews just to “bash” Snyder in the first place. However, let’s try to keep a couple of things in mind:

  1. Snyder’s comic view really hasn’t changed at all since those “early” years. His films continue to reflect mature themes (sex and violence especially, the themes he is quoted to have loved when he was younger) through his sexually charged and ultra violent characters. Watchmen300, and Sucker Punch are all perfect examples (although the first two are at least forgivable in that they’re adaptations of projects that already have violent and sexual moments in them). This wouldn’t necessarily matter on their own, however it becomes a problem when you pair these ideas and images with some of the most popular characters in the DC universe, who have no business reflecting these themes in the first place.
  2. When your main defense of a director with these issues is basically to say that any critic just has a predetermined bias against him/her or his/her work, then perhaps you need to step back and re-examine your position on things. Case in point, the following quote from patrick_bateman_77401, on IMDB:

But it’s not a truth. It’s your interpretation of a set of words because it confirms your beliefs that he’s a crap director and shouldn’t be allowed near a milk carton, much less a film set.

So saying Zack Snyder shouldn’t have this kind of power over DC’s film universe is nothing more than an “interpretation” because his detractors just don’t like him? Arguing against that idea, let’s look back at the full excerpt of Snyder’s “comic accurate” defense for Superman in Man of Steel:

People are always like ‘You changed Superman.’ If you’re a comic book fan, you know that I didn’t change Superman. If you know the true canon, you know that I didn’t change Superman. If you’re a fan of the old movies, yeah, I changed him a bit,” Snyder said. He went on to clarify that he, as a comic book fan, defaulted to Superman’s comic origins and not his on-screen incarnation, aiming to have his Superman “set a tone for the world” and “feel consistent for the DC universe.”

Right off the bat, there’s a couple of things that should stand out to you:

  1. There is no such thing as “true canon.” The canon has been shifted and edited for decades since Superman was first introduced to readers. You don’t see Batman carrying guns or murdering people nowadays like he did in the Golden Age, do you?
  2. Defaulting to Superman’s origins? Like how he was an aggressive killer in his earlier days? While this does help make sense of Sndyer’s twisted version of Superman and Batman, where killing comes just as easily as breathing to them, what makes him think a true “comic book fan” would ever go with that option when making a DC film?
  3. If you had the option, why would you go with that Golden Age feel when establishing a tone for the DCEU? It’s bizarre to think that, because he wanted Superman to “feel consistent” and set the mood for this cinematic world, now we have a universe where  even Robin potentially murdered criminals with an ax style bo staff. Where’s your comic accuracy now Snyder?

Please DC, step up your arguments and get Zack Snyder out of the director’s chair. He’s proven twice now that a DC film with him at the helm is bad for business, on top of the fact that he’s now ruined multiple important Superman stories that could have been set up for much better future installments (“Death of Superman” would have been a great standalone film, had the studio or Christopher Nolan stuck to their guns and simply told Snyder to hold off on killing Superman).

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is in theaters now.

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