My Thoughts on a DC SnyderversePosted: April 28, 2014
Whelp, it’s a fact, folks. As released last night by the Wall Street Journal, Zack Snyder will be directing a Justice League movie directly after the Batman/Superman movie (which I really hope they have the sense to call World’s Finest), with continued help from David Goyer. This is obviously huge news, if for no other reason that it finally gives some shape and direction to Warner Bros’ plans for putting the DC Universe on the big screen. However, given the polarized reaction to Man of Steel– and to Snyder/Goyer in general- this is a risky move, at least from a narrative and stylistic perspective. But I don’t think it’s an outright bad move, and it has enough upside to at the very least become something distinctive.
Zack Snyder alone has been very polarizing since he burst on the scene with his Dawn of the Dead remake (and if you told everyone back in 2003 that remaking Dawn of the Dead would be the most universally accepted thing he’d do, no one would’ve believed it). At best, he’s a master visual stylist crafting gorgeous renditions of “COOL”, and at worst his movies are shallow, obnoxious and absurd. In my mind, the truth lies somewhere in between. I do really think he is a terrific visualist, capable of constructing epic action and violence. In that regard, I think the DC Universe is a great fit for his talents; considering the cosmic, deified scale of many of the DC characters, his style of action is perfect. One of the things he did really well in Man of Steel was capture the majesty of Superman in flight, and the awesome power of Superman in battle. And if you don’t think that’s true, I present this evidence without further comment:
Snyder is great at bringing epicness such as this to life on screen, but everything else in his movies is dependent on the script. The reason why Dawn of the Dead remains his most objectively good film is because James Gunn provided a well-crafted, character-driven script. 300 is much more broad and absurd, but in a way that fits the aesthetic and vibe that Snyder is going for (and actually added some beats with Queen Gorgo that weren’t in the comic that I felt added some great dimension). The biggest problem with Watchmen is that they couldn’t figure out a way to cut down and restructure the story to fit the film format. And as far as Sucker Punch goes, the problem was that Snyder himself wrote the script and had no idea how to provide the necessary subtext that movie desperately needed. Snyder can always craft epic imagery, but if he doesn’t have a good script underneath him then his work collapses under it’s own ridiculousness.
On that note, the big question mark in this venture is not Snyder, but Goyer. While Goyer did a decent job helping Christopher Nolan laying the groundwork for his Dark Knight trilogy, I think his talents don’t extend very far beyond the big-picture, broad-stroke elements. The worst part of Man of Steel wasn’t the overall narrative, but the individual scenes and dialogue. So while I think Snyder is a solid directorial choice for establishing the scale and visuals of the DC Universe, and Goyer might be a good guy to lay out the narrative roadmap, I feel that the biggest thing they need to do is get talented screenwriters to give that roadmap definition and nuance, and give those visuals depth and emotion. And then they need to realize that with this progression, they can’t try to emulate the Marvel Cinematic Universe; they need to be able to take this trilogy of escalation they’ve now built and take the world in a new direction after that.
So I’m all for bringing Snyder on for this DC Origins Trilogy; but let’s give him some good screenwriters for help, huh?