Why do bad things happen to good fans? Whether it’s atrocious art, ridiculous writing or something else entirely – some crimes against fandom cannot go unanswered. When that happens, it’s time to say “BLAARGH!”
Despite the good-but-not-great box office and mixed critical reception Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel received last Summer, DC and Warner Brothers have heaped all their hopes and dreams regarding the growth of their cinematic superhero universe on him. Based on the announcements we’ve seen so far of Man of Steel 2 (or Superman / Batman or whatever the hell it’s actually going to be called when it opens in 2016), Snyder and DC are going to expand the universe a lot quicker than Marvel Studios did with their series of films predating their insanely successful The Avengers. As expected, Warners recently announced that the sequel to Man of Steel will be followed by an actual Justice League film, but what really surprised the majority of film fans and bloggers was the announcement that Zack Snyder himself will be directing it. Instead of dividing their films among several directors like Marvel Studios, DC and Warner Brothers have pretty much hitched their wagon to Snyder’s vision, which I’m convinced is a mistake.
The reason I’m not in favor of Zack Snyder helming Justice League is not a knock on his directing talent. Of the five films of his that I’ve seen, I’ve liked all but one, and while a recent rewatch of Man of Steel was not nearly as enjoyable as my first viewing, I still think it’s a solid reinvention of Superman on the big screen. My main gripe about him directing the next two installments of DC’s cinematic universe is that he’s not a very versatile filmmaker. Pretty much every film of his contains the same heightened action, excessive slow-motion shots, nearly exhausting intensity, and performances that are either brooding and low-key or excessively manic and loud. Based on the films we’ve seen so far from Snyder, we pretty much know what to expect from him, so personally the prospect of seeing two more DC films directed by him doesn’t excite me at all.
Another knock against this decision is the fact that Snyder’s films tend to be dour and humorless, especially when compared to Marvel Studios, who does a much better job balancing drama and humor in order to provide some truly entertaining blockbusters. As seen from the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and the failure of Green Lantern, DC is obviously going for a darker and more serious approach to their superhero films than Marvel is doing, but a style that worked for the last three Batman films won’t necessarily work for Justice League, even with Batman on the team. In order for Justice League to work on the big screen, Snyder will need some lighter personalities on the team in order to balance out a Batman that will most likely be dark and brooding and a Superman that Man of Steel already established as a character with deep emotional issues, and frankly I don’t think Snyder can pull off any scenes with a more lighthearted tone based on what we’ve seen from him before.
My biggest concern with Zack Snyder directing Justice League is the fact that character development is not his biggest strength. Even as a fan of Man of Steel, I feel like we still need time to get to know Superman as a character (as well as Lois Lane, for that matter) before we start teaming him up with Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and the as yet unannounced members of DC’s premier superteam. With so little time given to further develop these characters before their inevitable team-up, I’m afraid that audiences simply won’t care about them like they do with characters like Iron Man and Captain America who were given a lot more individual attention in their films. Sure, Snyder did a fairly decent job with the characters in Watchmen, but that was an almost completely faithful retelling of a finite 12-issue storyline, while Man Of Steel 2 and Justice League are going to be original screenplays loosely based on the characters from the comics, and I just don’t feel like Snyder is capable of giving each character adequate face time in these two films to make as much of an impression on viewers that the Marvel characters have.
Regardless of my thoughts on the matter, Man of Steel 2 and Justice League are sure to be big hits for DC and Warner Brothers simply based on the opportunity to finally seeing these characters together on the big screen. It just seems to me that their decisions on how these movies are going to be made don’t seem as concerned with the quality of these films as Marvel seems to have with theirs. So far, Marvel has tapped a number of very talented filmmakers, some of whom were not exactly household names beforehand, and assigned films to them that best showcased their strengths. With their decision to let Zack Snyder continue to handle their cinematic universe for at least the next two films, DC and Warner Brothers don’t seem as concerned with quality and are simply satisfied to let hype and character team-ups be their main draws. My anticipation for these films hasn’t completely disappeared, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m disappointed in the decisions they’ve made so far.