We here at Nerd Union don’t like to be pessimists….but we do like to say, we told you so…
If you want a little more detailed look at just the film itself, check out my BvS review later today. Here, we’ll mainly be concentrated on a key problem with the Snyder-verse. He doesn’t get characters he doesn’t like. After watching BvS, it’s very clear that he has a preference for Batman over Superman. What I didn’t realize was how much that view or bias informs his character development for other heroes, namely Supes. But wasn’t Snyder supposed to be the one person who would have understood exactly what we want as comic-book fans?
DC Comics gave Snyder the keys to the kingdom after the financial success from Man of Steel. But it completely ignores the utter failure that is the Snyder filmography. He’s been a marginally successful director with marginal hits. That hideous baby you saw above, that’s from Dawn of the Dead, the terrible remake he made of George Romero’s classic. Dawn is the one hit that made everyone pay attention but it’s been all down hill from there. Maybe too much of Michael Bay rubbed off on him during their school days. They seemed to have achieved similar levels of financial success matched only by how mediocre or insulting their films are.
You may be tempted to point back to 300 as proof of his genius in all it’s sweaty abdominal glory. However, you’ll be subsequently disappointed when you remember he’s given us that same slow-mo battle crap in almost every one since. I would be hard pressed to find people that are put off by this cinematography yet we’d easily find people bored by the lack of story or character depth. He creates some interesting set pieces and ideas, but it completely lacks the amazing storytelling to back it up.
Let’s get back to his problem of fleshing out characters. We don’t even have to look back far to find the most obvious case of this: Man of Steel. Initially, the idea of a wandering Superman, one who hadn’t accepted his role as protector was interesting. However, that’s not what we received. His adopted human parents, the ones who should have set him on a strong moral path were pretty morally gray. Paint the world dark and bleak all you want, but the Kents are supposed to be developing Clark’s moral center, not disrupting it. It’s no wonder we received such a grim and uninspired Superman after the changes to his upbringing. I would probably be pretty unsure of myself too.
In all seriousness, I think they were going for a father who was overwhelmed by the responsibility of his son’s powers. But there has to be light at the end of the tunnel. Clark Kent putting on the Superman suit 30 minutes into the film doesn’t make up for the lack of hope in these two films. Snyder pledges that he knows the comics well and that true fans would understand the characters as he is presenting them. But that’s assuming we are reading the same comics: As the rest of the Nerd Union staff can attest, if Zack Snyder’s only reference for Bats and Supes is from Frank Miller’s interpretation, it’s a very shallow one indeed. Miller is a great writer, but you have to take some his work with a grain of salt. Have you read The Dark Knight Strikes Again? Go ahead, I’ll wait……
Did you read it? (Most of you just lazily read the Wikipedia plot summary right? That’s fine, I’m honestly impressed you did that much.)
Yeah, it gets insane. That’s probably not the kind of material to base your idea of Superman from. If this was some kind of setup towards an alternate version of Superman who goes nuts in his grief like Injustice. Or, an evil version like Crisis on Two Earths (DC animated movie) Superman, it would be cool, but there’s no indication of that at all.
And then we have the problem I started with: Superman is basically Batman and that doesn’t work. You can’t correctly compare the two if you’ve made Supes so dark that he’s essentially comes off as a blue and red suited Batman. It misses the major and minor distinctions between the two characters. Batman is channeled by his grief to become “more than just a man”. He never wants another person to lose their loved ones like he did. His constant struggle and clash is how not to lose himself in the process. Superman is a foreigner in a strange land with the ability to save those strangers from themselves. His constant struggle is how to effectively use his powers and not turn into the tyrant that Bruce Wayne fears.
In BvS, this the central conflict, but it doesn’t work because we never have a Superman whose confident in his decisions. Every thing has been wishy washy since Man Of Steel, namely because of the family issues I discussed above. We need to see Superman with his faith in humanity intact, desires to do good, and has fully adopted Earth as his home. Until Snyder can come to grips with this reality and present Superman correctly (even if he doesn’t like him), we will keep getting movies were Superman doesn’t fit in.