In the first part of this reflection on whether there should be a Snyder Cut of "League of Justice" I focused on the logistics and box office generated by the current DC Universe of cinema. In the second part, I delved into the background between creative direction and studio aspirations, showing interesting parallels between past and future. In this penultimate part, it's time to delve into one of the most controversial elements in DC cinema: Director Zack Snyder.
In 2010, after an extensive search for candidates, Zack Snyder joined the director's chair for the Man of Steel project. Remember that after the medium reception of "Superman Returns", Warner Bros. was looking to revitalize the Superman saga in the cinema and for that reason asked the director Christopher Nolan, who had managed to do the same with his Batman movies, help to do the same with the last son of Krypton. The goal was to give the Man of Steel a similar treatment.
One of the most famous criticisms of the DC productions directed by Zack Snyder was that their stories were "Too dark", a term that in my personal opinion I find absurd and could not be more wrong. The approach that "The Man of Steel" inherited from Nolan's Batman was to place the character in a contemporary world for a contemporary audience, creating a new film version of the character, different from that of the idealized version of Superman that on the big screen he had no others that would differentiate him from each other since the seventies and eighties.
In addition to this, we must note the unsuccessful development that Warner Bros. has had in the past with the last son of Krypton. From the 1990s to the present day, they haven't hit the nail on the head in providing Superman with a contemporary individual saga that shines beyond a first installment, failing to give it a memorable stage, as if it happened with the various adaptations in live-action Batman. To the Man of Steel has been deprived of constant execution in the cinematographic medium, thus forging a solid bond with the audience.
Leaving the idealization of Superman aside is something that has caused, and continues to provoke, controversy among different types of audiences, from purist comic fans to the loyal fans of the film versions performed by Christopher Reeve. The reality is that the last son of Krypton brought to the screen by Snyder took the risk of giving a new facet to the character, emphasizing your purpose and destiny. Unlike the other Superman of the cinema, this one would not be received in today's world in a bed of roses; if not the opposite, it would have to prove yourself and the world around you on your way to heroism: one full of trials and tribulations.
The endless debate
The literary theory of "reception aesthetics" (Reader-Response-Theory) speaks that a work — be it a book, a movie, or any creative work — is not always interpreted for the same reasons with which it was written, but rather that the reader does it from his individual cultural baggage and lived experiences.
Within the work of Zack Snyder, both with characters from the DC Universe as well as his filmography in general, there will be all kinds of opposite poles, with comic book fans who respect work as well as those deeply rooted in a facet that they hate for implementing his style and proposal for the work of the characters.
For better or for worse, many people in the audience from these different types of audiences have a wide range of opinions about Zack Snyder's work. Some common questions are of the type "He is a mediocre director", "It is poorly executed", "It only works visually, I should be a cinematographer", "He does not understand the material or characters with which he works"… among many others within a sea of opinions and debates without truce. In this life there will be those who love for who you are and in proportion, there will always be those who hate you for the same reason.
However, it must be understood although the director has stated on many occasions that he respects the world of comics just as if they were sacred texts, these are key figures and works that They mean a lot to different generations who have consumed these stories through various means.
Key and important figures and works such as Batman, Superman And till Watchmen that, in some way or another, have transcended the history of popular culture, so that every attempt at reinvention by taking these elements will always fall into skepticism by daring to do something different to differentiate it with their own approach, and this will cause controversy, more when it comes to timeless myths and worship.
"If you don't like my story, write yours"
Going back to the theory of reception aesthetics, some readers or consumers they will accept certain interpretations of a work while others will reject it Due to the emotional link that one has with the established idealizations of these figures, despite also within fiction and through different platforms, these same characters have been put in similar situations and have even been reinterpreted in many ways, which many seem to selectively ignore by attacking the decisions made by filmmakers by Zack Snyder or Rian Johnson in the case of Star Wars.
In recent years we have seen a polarization before cases in superhero, science fiction and fantasy movies where the characters undergo a twist in their personality, which are received with division. Cases like Superman and Batman in the film "Batman v Superman" or outside of the DC Cinematic Universe as Luke Skywalker in "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" from Rian Johnson where characters idealized by the public have had to hit rock bottom on the situations that have led them through this terrain of tribulations. Is it difficult to think that the Man of Steel can become overwhelmed by the weight of the world on his shoulders? Is it also difficult to conceive that the Dark Knight has stumbled into a spiral of self-destruction? Or that the legendary Jedi is not the same at the age of 50 as he is in his twenties and that these figures may doubt and fear, but despite this, the important thing is that they manage to regain their way and go towards the light? Isn't that what happens with Zack Snyder vision?
It is evident that the deconstruction of characters and myths is often not unanimously accepted the first time it is received by a massive audience that contains different sectors of the public: fans of the original work, casual public, people belonging to the different generations they know. to the character or story, among others, but we have to emphasize that This is not absolute, nor does it distort the characters themselves from how they have been represented over time.
Zack Snyder and Superman
The Man of Steel that Zack Snyder represents in his films is not a victimizing person who feels sorry for himself. On the contrary, for those who manage to give it the appropriate reading, they will find that he is a character who, through trials and tribulations in search of his own identity, will walk the path of the hero. to become the best version of himself.
People often criticize "Batman v Superman" arguing that it presents a regression of the character as it was left in its predecessor, due to the state of mind in which the character is. First of all, the purpose of the film released in 2016 was to continue with the approach of what happened at the end of "The Man of Steel", which would consist of the impact that the presence of this superman would have for the entire world, as well as its consequences, with the challenges that this would imply for the Kryptonian. This is the backbone of the film, and its role in this story is often undervalued.
The maximum ideal for the character of Superman has always been hope and the ability to see good in the world, something that the version played by Henry Cavill manages to do, although in a way more subtle and stoic, and not filled with so much fanfare, grace and security as did the previous incarnations of the character. The sequence of "There must be a Superman" that he has such an emotional and mystical feeling is proof of this.
It should also be emphasized that Zack Snyder's interpretation of Superman is not obscure or "edgy" as he is usually attributed. The circumstances he had to go through were, and that does not detract from the character, it is not a spit or a betrayal of his 80 years of mythology, it is a facet that is used to show us that this version of the character cannot do everything, a feature that has also been portrayed in both comics and in other incarnations of it, but until the arrival of both Snyder films they had not sparked intense controversy.
Matters such as the destruction of Metropolis at the climax of "The Man of Steel" It has always been a topic of discussion among the public, assigning most of the responsibility to Superman for having destroyed the city, when in fact in the fight against Zod, this was the one that caused the most damage to the city. Destruction of large locations in comics or animated series are common elements, including in other superhero movies: in "Superman II the Metropolis version of the film also had a fierce battle between the hero and the Kryptonians. Therefore, we should ask ourselves, why is this penalized in Snyder's work when Snyder for the sequel he had to respond to these criticisms and move the battle of the trinity against Doomsday to a deserted area. Another case of selective ignorance on his part of his detractors.
He Jonathan Kent shown in these films has also been strongly criticized due to the conversation he has with his son and to whom he expresses that he should protect his identity above all things. Although that meant not choosing to act to save his life, this was met with rejection by the most entrenched fans of Krypton's son as a terrible act, but many seem to overlook the decisions used in writing this character to say these words.
The approach that "The Man of Steel" employs with Jonathan Kent is the same that every incarnation of the character has always had, only this version emphasized the goal of protecting your child's identity, more than anything in the world. Kent tells Clark the following "When the world knows what you can do that will change everything" hinting that he knew it was inevitable that the secret would be revealed and the implications it would have for the world, which represents well "Batman v Superman".
Jonathan Kent chooses to later die and prevent Clark from exposing himself, this puts a twist to the words regarding “With all I can do, with all those powers, I couldn't save him. ” from "Superman: The Movie ”. Many people criticize this scene blaming Clark for not acting to save him but I emphasize, Jonathan is the one who chooses to die leaving his son helpless before saving him.
Does having Superman kill cause the character to be misrepresented? A characteristic that defines the character is his reluctance not to kill, this being one of the strongest ethical codes that the character has, so it is valid to think that this threatens the integrity of said figure, but we must think that the director allowed this in order to allow himself to explore his own morality as a hero and a path that I was going to make a bed of roses but high challenges.
There are canonical and non-canonical stories in the comics that have explored the character's reaction to such an extreme act. It should be noted that in several of them the hero tends to reflect on his actions by undertaking a crusade of self-discovery to later return better and self-assured. Could the film medium not deal with this? After all, film adaptations are other universes in relation to comics, they are new canvases to work on characters from scratch taking inspiration from the elements of decades of history in print.
In conclusion to this section, and to this third part of the article, it is not that Zack Snyder does not understand Superman, many do not understand what he does with Superman. In the fourth and final installment, we will delve deeper into Zack Snyder as director.