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Zack Snyder, and his “view” of superhero movies

Zack SnyderAfter the much reported on fallout coming from Warner Bros. regarding their DC movie properties, fans and Hollywood insiders are looking at the upcoming Justice League franchise and are beginning to wonder about how successful a future it may have.

It had been reported that Seth Grahame-Smith has stepped down as director for The Flash movie, as well as James Wan having second thoughts directing Aquaman (which Wan has apparently tried to dispel with a couple of “interesting” tweets), but Vox.com is reporting that stories continue to swirl around Zack Snyder and his vision for both Batman v Superman as well as Justice League, and that perhaps he’s not the best suited person to handle these films based on past interviews he has given.

The turmoil reportedly stems from director Zack Snyder, the man who bungled Batman v Superman, a film that Warner Bros. believes didn’t live up to expectations at the box office. Snyder is also the creative lead for the Justice League franchise and part of the Warner Bros. braintrust for the DC Comics cinematic universe. Ergo, because Batman v Superman disappointed, executives are now worried that Snyder’s vision — a grim Superman, a Batman who tortures and brands people for death, lots of scenes in which Batman does Crossfit, etc. — isn’t the best way to go.

But Snyder’s plans for his comic book superhero movies shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, including critics. Back in 2008, Snyder gave a revealing interview to Entertainment Weekly about how he sees comic books, superheroes, and his upcoming movie (at the time) The Watchmen. The piece has been making the rounds on Twitter for how much it traces the psychology of Snyder’s movies, from older titles like The 300 and Suckerpunch all the way through Batman v Superman.

The Q&A touches on a lot of different topics, but one of the most striking parts of the discussion comes when Snyder talks about his dislike for comics without gore or sex. He said:

You could call it “high-brow” comics, but to me, that comic book was just pretty sexy! 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.”

Snyder not liking comic books where people don’t kill each other explains his Superman; traditionally, Superman’s entire existence is about inspiring and being bright and hopeful, but Snyder’s iteration of the character kills someone in Man of Steel.

Later in the interview, Snyder talks about Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, revealing that if he’d been at the helm, he would have gone a lot darker than Nolan did by incorporating prison rape:

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.

It’s a mystery why Snyder believes that prison rape, sex, and death are what people want to see in superhero films — that comic book fans who love Superman really wanted to see him start killing people, or that Batman fans would really relish seeing the greatest detective alive not be able to tell the difference between a boat and a crime lord.

There’s a reason these superheroes and their comics have endured. And even when Frank Miller and Alan Moore introduced grit and darkness into their worlds, it wasn’t darkness for darkness’s sake — which is what Snyder seems to be obsessed with.

Of course, the most baffling part of all this is that unless a shakeup happens at Warner Bros., Snyder is very close to making all of his terrible ideas come true.
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Should Warner Bros. reexamine Zack Snyder’s role as the guiding force behind Justice League? Is he the right man for the job, or should the studio look at finding someone who is more of a “fan” for those comic book properties?
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  1. I’m starting to realize that I gave Snyder too much credit when I really liked the Watchmen movie. The more I learn about this guy the more I realize that the strengths of that movie came not from the director, but from the strength of the source material and from the actors.

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