In the comic book fan circle I run around, Zack Snyder has become a name associated with a bit of hand wringing. On the one hand, he created the uber faithful Watchmen, a movie which succeeds on style, even if its special effects don’t hold up today. On the other hand, Snyder infuriated fans of Superman with Man of Steel and then cratered the DCEU with Batman v Superman. I was among a loud contingent decrying that movie.
Look, here I am telling people to not see the movie in protest:
As hard as it is for me to accept, my compatriot in this dimly-lit video, Jason, was right about one thing: Batman v Superman looks a lot better now that Justice League is out. What he isn’t correct about is his intention behind that statement – that Justice League would give BvS the meaning and direction that movie lacked. Instead, the fans got the Justice League movie we got and now I’m left wishing we had more Zack Snyder. Why? Studio meddling.
Justice League benefits from BvS because of one thing: lowered expectations. The movie was entertaining in parts, and even plays like an episode of the popular DC animated shows. But it’s also — for me — vapor. I forgot most of that film right after I walked out of the theater, and have no desire to ever see it again. Worse still, its villain set a new low bar for superhero villains (a pretty low target to begin with!) and may have rid us of Batfleck, one of my favorite incarnations of Batman yet. I don’t blame Zack Snyder for this, though. I blame Warner Bros. Here’s my reasoning:
I can’t even believe they are trying to pin Justice League on Zack Snyder. I’m convinced that there’s much less Zack in there than Joss Whedon, and WB’s ham-fisted attempt to marry those two styles left Justice League with an uneven tone and no message. Say what you want about BvS, but it had a message and ideas. This movie has battle sequences and inarticulate characters.
Henry Cavill says that the Superman we see at the end of Justice League is the character that he and Zack Snyder have been building up to over the course of three movies. That’s all well and good. Superman jokes lightly, shows no fear, and wears an easy smile, all things we want to see from Supes. But how that Superman came out of the events of the previous two films is so sudden that it doesn’t really make any sense. I’d bet that WB was in such a hurry to get to that version of Superman that they didn’t give any chance for real character development.
I’m not the first to say it, but WB has definitely over-reacted to fan criticism of both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. Tired of grittiness, Justice League tries to pop into full color, including a vomit-inducing purple-red background in the final fight. This use of color doesn’t match Zack Snyder’s visual sensibilities and without his guidance, Justice League just looks terrible. Compare any scene in this movie to most of Snyder’s previous films and you’ll see a definite lack of texture and visual fidelity in Justice League.
I blame all of the above on WB and their meddling. It was present in BvS too, I think, in the addition of Doomsday, a character that Warner Bros. has been trying to get into film for the previous fifteen years. How else to explain the puzzling addition of Doomsday other than marketing? And the even more puzzling decision to keep Superman out of advertisements for Justice League for so long, even though his resurrection was previously teased at the end of BvS? Warners, Warners, Warners.
So what can we hope from the next DC movies? Unless Warner Brothers gets out of the way, as they have with all of the Harry Potter films, I don’t expect much consistency. For every good movie that may come out, expect a Suicide Squad or two. At least that’s my take, but I’ve been wrong before.