Oh, DC. Oh, Warner Bros. What happened? It seems when Zack Snyder was granted the opportunity to head the DC Extended Universe and overtook many pivotal films such as Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman, and Justice League, fans were naturally a little hesitant. Giving a director, best known for 300 and Watchmen, creative control over such beloved characters was considered a risk. A risk, it seems, is not financially or critically paying off.
There’s dark, and then there’s Zack Snyder dark. In an age of the ‘dark and gritty’ superhero films like The Dark Knight trilogy, there has certainly been a shift in the post-9/11 expectations of heroes and subsequent repercussions, consequences, and regrets of their actions. During a 2008 interview, Snyder outlined his thoughts on the superhero genre.
“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.’ “
Right. This may be a little PR hiccup, as he was not yet in charge of such an important franchise. Two years earlier, he was promoting 300 and preparing for the release of Watchmen. When discussing the impact of Christopher Nolan, Snyder upped the ante and said he didn’t feel the genre was going quite far enough.
“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.”
Only a few years later, this man would be in charge of wholesome characters like Superman, a hero who stands for ‘truth, justice, and the American way.’ Many feel the direction in which he’s taken this character and others may be why the DCEU is crumbling.
Warner Bros. has admitted their disappointment with the reception of the DCEU so far, and as they prepare for another few years of films, it might be wise to educate Zack Snyder on what fans want. Many are of the opinion his instincts for the future of superhero films may be a bit off. His view on Marvel, in 2008 and before the wider cinematic universe, supports that feeling:
“The Marvel universe has gone nuts; we’re going to have a fricking Captain America movie if we’re not careful. Thor, too! We’re on our second Hulk movie. And Iron Man — $300 million domestic box office on a second tier superhero!”
The recirculation of this interview is indeed bad timing, just before Captain America: Civil War will be released in the US, seeing the ‘second tier’ hero face off against Cap to the delight of millions of fans. This is especially rough given reports that it’s raked in a hard-hitting $200 million after its international opening weekend alone. Then there is the fact that it holds a solid 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, while Batman v Superman sits at disappointing 27%. The DCEU has a lot of damage control to take care of before it can truly give rival Marvel Studios a real run for its money.
Image: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images