Well, it’s certainly been a couple of busy weeks over at DC, hasn’t it?
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice has grossed over $800 million worldwide. That’s no chump change but, for a film that was expected to make $1 billion, DC and Warner Bros. have considered the film to not meet their expectations. The movie is also a critical flop. Currently, the film stands at 27% “Rotten” rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. This has caused the executives at DC to scramble quite a bit and do quite a number of changes the past two days.
For one, they decided to hand the reins over to Warner Bros. VP Jon Berg and, more importantly, Geoff Johns, DC Comics’ current Chief Content Officier and one of the principle persons behind the successful transition to television for characters such as Arrow and The Flash. Both of them will head up the newly established DC Films, which will be producing all future films based on their superhero properties. In addition to this major shakeup, DC decided to elevate Ben Affleck, a self professed Batman fan, to executive producer of the upcoming Justice League film, allegedly to keep director Zack Snyder in check and to appease him as well because of the poor reviews Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice received. Because Sad Affleck is sad.
With all that going on, it looks like DC is slowly but surely nudging Zack Snyder, who directed Superman’s previous two films, Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, from being the architect of the DC Cinematic Universe. And, honestly, that’s a good thing, because, apparently, Zack Snyder wasn’t the man for the job from the very start. Oh, he was never the official head of the DC Cinematic Universe, but since he did direct the first two films, Zack Snyder was able to set the tone and outline the story of where everything is going.
But it does seem odd that the same man that gave us films like 300 and Watchmen, two films that were extremely faithful to the source material, isn’t suitable to handle a comic book universe, doesn’t it? I mean, 300 was a huge blockbuster and, love or hate the film adaptation of the comic, Zack Snyder did a commendable job translating each and every important and visual striking scene from the Watchmen 12-issue series to the big screen.
As he did produce such love letters to comic book materials, he should’ve been the best pic from the very start, right? Well, the problem is he’s not the right kind of comic book fan.
In a recently resurfaced interview during the promotion of Watchmen, Zack Snyder mentioned that he was never into mainstream comics. While growing up, he was more into Heavy Metal, the adult sci-fi/fantasy magazine. His friends did try to get him to try out more mainstream (ie. superhero) comics but young Zack didn’t like them because ”No one is having sex or killing each other. This isn’t really doing it for me.” In the interview, he also mentioned that Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films weren’t dark enough and, in order to really make it gritty, he would make Batman get raped in prison. Now, that’s dark!
But, actually, that’s the least of Zack Snyder’s issues when it comes to making comic book movies. The issue is actually deeper than that. Because, if you really look at his body of work, you’d come to realize that he’s not that great of a storyteller. He can certainly make things look fantastic, I’ll grant you that. But task him to tell a great story without anything visual to see what needs to be done, he just can’t do it.
The best example of this would have to be Sucker Punch, Zack Snyder’s huge box office bomb that was released in 2011. There was a reason why it bombed: it wasn’t good! It definitely looked good but the story was a mess. Despite the screen being filled with sexy women in various outfits to satisfy all your fetishes and having rather glorious looking action scenes, Sucker Punch was just awful.
And, honestly, I was actually mad that Sucker Punch was really bad. The basic idea was creative and I honestly didn’t mind all of the sexual images in the film. But I just flat out didn’t care for anything that was happening on screen. I didn’t care for the characters or why they needed those items to escape. It tries to be clever and smart but it just comes off as being pretentious and full of itself. And I blame Zack Snyder for all of that because, despite Sucker Punch being a visual treat, it was just plain forgettable. Yet, Zack Snyder also helped out with writing 300. So, what went wrong with Sucker Punch and his other movies since then?
Well, saying that he “wrote” 300 is a stretch because he actually didn’t write all that much. He essentially copied the more visual scenes and important bits from the 300 comic and put it up on screen. You see, Zack Snyder can pull off a fantastic story if he some point of reference. With 300, it was the comic. With Dawn of the Dead, it was the original films. He needs these frames of reference to use as a roadmap to make a great film. But, leave him to his own devices like with Sucker Punch, he can’t really tell an intriguing story or develop characters well.
This is precisely why I’m glad DC is moving Zack Snyder in back seat of the DC Cinematic Universe. While there’s no way to see how Jon Berg and Geoff Johns will fare, I can’t imagine them to do much worse than what Zack Snyder has done with Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice.
However, a better choice would’ve been Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, the creators of the DC Animated Universe. Now, that would be a home run!
What do you think of these turn of events for the DC Cinematic Universe? Let me know in the comments section below!