“Zack Snyder: The Right Man for a SUPER-Job” Author: Sean Gerber
October 5, 2010
Warner Bros. was already off to a remarkable head start on rebooting the Superman film franchise by bringing in Christopher Nolan and Emma Thomas to produce the film while hiring David Goyer to write the script. Now, with the addition of Zack Snyder in the director’s chair, a comic book movie “Dream Team” is complete. Zack Snyder is absolutely the right choice. He is the kind of director that Superman needs right now.
Whether you liked the film or not, there’s little denying at this point that Bryan Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS fell short of Warner Bros.’s financial expectations. Some blamed the lack of action. Some saw too much reverence for the Richard Donner films. Some just wanted to see Superman finally punch somebody!
Whatever the reason(s) behind the film’s subpar performance, the most damaging effect of SUPERMAN RETURNS was the manner in which it caused people to question whether or not Superman was still capable of connecting with a modern audience. He’d seemingly been left behind as characters like Spider-Man and Wolverine rose to mainstream prominence and Batman returned to the top of the mountain. Superman existed more as an image or an ideal than an actual character.
Some would undoubtedly blame the mainstream audience for its inability to connect with The Man of Steel, insisting that there’s something wrong with a society that is too cynical to accept Superman’s idealism. Perhaps that’s true, but when hundreds of millions of dollars are invested, it’s the duty of the filmmaker to meet the audience on its own terms. Don’t remind the audience of why they used to love Superman because they already know that. Instead, provide them an answer to the question of why they should STILL love the character and what he means to them today and in the future.
Clark Kent is a genuinely nice, caring individual. He really does believe in truth, justice, and the American way. He’d give you the shirt (or cape) off his back and then go save several dozen tenants from a burning building. No matter what the cost, he will always do the right thing. He’ll try to see the best in people while a character like Bruce Wayne is on alert for the worst.
As admirable as those qualities are, we’ve been exposed to them over and over again in each of the previous films. Unfortunately, we haven’t been given the opportunity to marvel at the pure, physical awesomeness that Superman possesses since Richard Donner made us believe a man could fly in his 1978 film SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE. Superman is the most powerful, awe-inspiring superhero in existence yet he’s had so little chance to showcase his dominance on film.
Superman should certainly keep his kindness, but he should also be allowed to get mad every now and then, especially now. There’s a lot going on in our society today that a guy like Superman would be angry about. As I once said in an episode of the BOF Podcast, Superman needs to have (for lack of a better word) balls in his next film. He is a Super-MAN not just a Super-Nice Guy.
With Snyder at the helm, there likely will not be a lack of testicular fortitude on Superman’s part. The fan cravings for more action will be satiated. Snyder will not just tell audiences how unimaginably powerful Clark Kent is, he’ll show them.
As with all decisions regarding comic book films, this one will be highly scrutinized and have plenty of detractors crashing message boards and comment threads everywhere. As I write this, someone is surely bashing this decision on a message board somewhere, arguing that Zack Snyder is unqualified because he’s only directed film adaptations of specific graphic novels (300 and WATCHMEN) rather than developing an original story based on a comic book character with a long, storied history.
Director Zack Snyder on the set of WATCHMEN
The above argument, while true, is not as significant of a cause for concern as some will claim. One of the most frequent criticisms of Snyder’s comic book films has been that he’s too faithful to the source material, choosing what’s accurate to the comic over what might actually be best for the film. It’s a little ironic for fanboys to be criticizing a director for trying too hard to appease them while still complaining about the absence of a squid at the end of WATCHMEN, but I digress.
The good news is that because Snyder is not directing an adaptation of a specific graphic novel or comic book story arc, there’s nothing for him to be “too faithful” to. Snyder has acknowledged the challenge that he has accepted in getting a modern audience to buy into Superman on a level beyond mere nostalgia. He knows that playing the same notes other directors have already played will not be an effective strategy.
Also, no one should dismiss Snyder’s strengths in visual presentation. His films are usually praised for being beautiful to look at, which certainly bodes well for a Snyder-helmed Superman film. The Man of Steel will probably never have looked better than the manner in which Snyder will present him. Snyder’s proficiency in directing action and combat sequences will surely turn an area of weakness in the franchise into one of its biggest strengths.
Snyder’s talent alone should be enough to inspire confidence in the future of the Superman franchise, but wait there’s more! Let’s not forget the support system that Snyder has behind him. Christopher Nolan, David Goyer, and other members of the team that took the Batman movie franchise from its post-BATMAN & ROBIN purgatory to the very pinnacle of the genre are all on board and ready to work their magic again for Superman. There’s no better team Snyder could collaborate with in order to achieve his goal of getting a mainstream audience to connect with a classic character on a whole new level. For those (like me) who love to say how much they “Trust Nolan,” remember that he would have played a significant role in this decision. If Snyder is good enough for Chris Nolan, he should be good enough for anyone.
This is a rare opportunity in which the right director has come along with the right creative team, for the right character, at the right time. The Superman franchise needs a director with Snyder’s vision and action sensibilities. The franchise should have a director who is aware of the need for this classic character to be presented in a way that will meet today’s moviegoers on their terms and SHOW them why Superman still matters. When the 2012 holiday season rolls around, we will learn why Superman is still relevant in a cynical world and experience all that makes him the most powerful of all the superheroes we will see on a silver screen.
Zack Snyder will be sure of that.
Sean Gerber is a BOF senior contributor from Orange Country, California.
He is the found of MODERNMYTHMEDIA.COM