In a continuing trend, director Zack Snyder once again demonstrated how little he understands some of the critiques levied at his 2013 film, MAN OF STEEL. Speaking, almost defensively, to the Wall Street Journal, Snyder delved into his first Superman film a bit and explained why he thinks people are missing the point when they complain about that movie’s final hour.
Snyder says, of Superman’s act-first, ask questions later approach.
“Thereâ€™s no time to ask permission when someone is falling off a skyscraper, or thereâ€™s no time to ask permission when the White House is exploding. You got to act. Heâ€™s the first responder in a lot of ways. Heâ€™s the first responder who gets sued by the guy he saves.“
Snyder then demonstrates that he’s too hung up on the fictional numbers of MAN OF STEEL‘s “death toll.” The director relayed an exchange he recently had, where someone said that MOS had the most devastating collateral damage of any film in recent memory:
“I went, really? And I said, ‘Well, what about [‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’]?’ In â€˜Star Warsâ€™ they destroy five planets with billions of people on them. Thatâ€™s gotta be one of the highest death toll movies in history, the new â€˜Star Warsâ€™ movie, if you just do the math.”
That’s exactly the issue people like myself have with Snyder: He just doesn’t get it. It’s not about the death toll. It’s about how such destruction impacts the story. In THE FORCE AWAKENS, the destruction perpetrated by the Starkiller Base was staged in a way to make you feel devastated and in awe of the evil you’ve just witnessed. It drives the story, and puts you further behind our heroes, knowing that they must destroy Starkiller. In MAN OF STEEL, there was nary a mention of what was going on. It felt like empty destruction porn, just meant to “look cool.” There was no sense of tragedy, stakes, or drama. Just buildings falling left and right, and a Superman who pauses midway through the battle to kiss his girlfriend in the rubble and ashes of a demolished city where thousands just perished. That was followed by a cute, “happy” ending.
Sequences like this are supposed to make your heart sink, not make your eyes marvel at all of the candy.
Another comparison Snyder has made is to THE AVENGERS. He says that there was plenty of destruction during the Chitauri invasion of New York. Yes, there was. But, again, it’s all about how it was handled. Director Joss Whedon staged the entire sequence around the idea that our heroes were doing everything they can to diminish the collateral damage. Amidst all the action, there was a constant sense of our heroes being mindful to contain the destruction, save people, coordinate with police, lure enemies elsewhere, glimpses of scared citizens being inspired by the heroes, etc. When you’re actively watching your heroes being heroic, it’s a lot easier to make peace with all of the violence. In MAN OF STEEL, the only “heroic” deed we have to go on is that Superman is beating up Zod.
Even in the mediocre AGE OF ULTRON, one the high points- which drew a massive cheer at the screening I attended- of the final sequence at Sokovia was when that car was falling off of the floating city and Thor collaborated with Cap on a miraculous save.
Mr. Snyder, fans of superhero films love seeing heroes saving people, not simply punching bad guys.
Technically, did Superman save the world in MAN OF STEEL? Absolutely. Did the staging of that battle make you feel the thrill, awe, and adulation of watching Superman save the day? According to half of the fan base: Nope.
He just doesn’t get it.
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