Heresy of the Week – Zack Snyder will ruin DC Comics


zack snyder

Heresy of the Week is a (mostly) weekly spot in which I entertain some of the unthinkable notions of geek-culture. The arguments I put forward are not always things I personally agree with, but often rhetorical devices designed to force myself (and maybe readers) out of the boxes which fan discussions can get caught in. But that aside, feel free to get yourselves worked up and your knickers in a twist if you really want to.

This week’s heresy:

In their hour of need, DC Comics have turned to Zack Snyder to save them in their film war with arch-nemeses Marvel. This is, however, a mistake, and a simple look at Snyder’s films will reveal the true magnitude of this error.

There is a piece of information about Zack Snyder, which when I share it with people in conversations on subjects like this, I see a light come on in their eyes. It isn’t scandalous or secret, but it is the missing piece of the puzzle, which answers many unanswered (and sometimes unasked) questions. The piece of information is this:

Zack Snyder started out making music videos.

I’m right, eh? It explains everything. The way everything and everyone in his films has that artificial gloss, the way that he uses CGI like spray-paint, the way that visuals trump story, character, or entertainment. It all clicks.

Now, with that new information, re-digest the fact that Mr Snyder is being positioned as the saviour of DC Comics’ films. It’s a perfectly understandable move — I mean, look at what Joss Whedon has done for their rivals Marvel. Under Whedon’s gentle guidance — though by no means due to him alone — they have birthed a sprawling franchise universe, tied together, and bringing TV in as well to create one great interlinked money-spinner.

And DC want some of that. But Snyder is not the man to deliver it.

For one thing, he isn’t Whedon. Joss Whedon has created many beloved TV series and films (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse and Toy Story before Thor brought him to Marvel), and essentially had the gravitas and experience to pull such a job off.  Zack Snyder doesn’t. His own filmography before DC’s underwhelming Man of Steel consisted of:

  • Dawn of the Dead (An unnecessary remake of a superior film)
  • 300 (essentially extended video game footage, looking like something out of Men’s Fitness magazine)
  • Watchmen (Extremely disappointing, aside from the music video opening credits)
  • Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (I haven’t seen it — it may be cinematic genius but… I doubt it)
  • Sucker Punch (A mediocre film, broken up by dull music videos)

That’s it. And on the strength of that, he has been given control of the direction of DC’s films like tossing him a set of car keys. It’s a little embarrassing. For one thing, every piece of news which comes out about the Batman vs Superman film which comes out sounds disastrous. I’m not talking about Ben Affleck, I mean the changes to Wonder Woman’s backstory, casting Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, and just generally cramming it full of spin-off fodder.

It seems to me that he is a second-choice messiah. DC plainly wanted Christopher Nolan to lead this, after the unreasonable success of his Batman trilogy. I don’t know why, but I suspect that it’s down to his vision being incompatible with super-powered heroes like Superman and the Flash.

But what we’ll likely end up with in Batman vs Superman is a mess. It’ll look pretty, sure. But the plot will be holed, and the characters will be either uninteresting, inconsistent or both, and it will crumble as an attempt to introduce a clutch of spin-off franchises — not least because Marvel’s Avengers Assemble drew franchise threads together, rather than trying to create them from nothing.

And when that stark, dystopian vision does come around, I want you all to remember that I told you so. And that it’s mostly — not entirely — down to the choice of Snyder.

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