Batman V Superman, the DCEU, and what to do about the Zack Snyder problem

Make no mistake; Batman V Superman is a terrible film. That said, there were some great aspects to the movie, many of which point to a strong way forward for the DCEU.
Batman and Alfred are great. The writing surrounding the character oscillates from very good to horrific, but Affleck is the best Batman/Wayne on screen yet, and Irons is strong. I can’t wait to see a Batman film with this team and a great writer and director.
Wonder Woman absolutely steals the show. She does this with very little screen time. Gal is great: Strong, smart, and just sexy enough. The Jenkins led stand-alone film should be among the top anticipated films for any comic fan.
The first half of the film sets up some interesting questions (while sacrificing the character of Superman in the process), but then fails to even pretend to answer them. It seemed as if at the 90-minute mark, Snyder said, “OK, to hell with all this thinking, let’s go with 45 minutes of video game cinematic!” The film is then concluded with possibly the choppiest, nonsensical wrap up I have ever witnessed. Even a major event with huge ramifications for the universe was met with bored indifference by the audience.
Although the problems may rest in large part with the writers, I have to imagine Snyder shoulders the majority of the guilt and responsibility. If there was ever any question that Snyder held the version of Superman as a moral archetype in contempt, that was put to rest when Perry White tells Clark, “Maybe you could have stood for something in 1938, but not today.”
The biggest problem with Snyder stripping Superman of his mythological roots is that he doesn’t replace them with anything. Snyder paints Superman as a flawed individual ready to murder in cold blood if it will save a loved one. Time and time again, he makes the point that power, not morality, is the only thing that makes someone special.
This gets to the core weakness of Snyder, who is not without talent. He can be, as he has proven time and again, a visual poet. That cannot, however, overcome his essential essence.
Snyder is immature.
Zack Snyder cannot convey the complex and conflicting elements of the human condition because he simply does not understand them. This was first apparent in what is possibly his best film: Watchmen. In Alan Moore’s brilliant comic, Rorschach is above all else, a damaged character. Yes, he is competent. Yes, he is tough. But more than anything he is broken. In Snyder’s version, Rorschach is HEROIC. The slow motion close ups of rain falling off the mask and the cat-like grace Rorschach displays in fights all serve the same purpose. We cheered for the character while watching the film. Perhaps even hoped for a solo film.
When reading the comic, however, we were hit with how the horror and injustice of the world can break a person who has devoted their life to fighting for justice. In the comic, Rorschach is clearly a tragic character. In the film, Rorschach is a hero who sadly has to die because the source material dictates it.
Snyder is a child.
Beyond the problem with Snyder’s desire to make every character the Punisher, the last 40 minutes of the film are an exercise in watching a director self-destruct. He literally throws everything including the kitchen sink at the viewer. The pacing is amazingly bad.
Further, he seems to double down on all the criticisms of Man of Steel, bludgeoning the audience with destruction to the point where one simply tunes it out, or, as many in theater during my showing did, laughs. At times the rousing score from Man of Steel is played, but only serves only to make the audience realize how little emotional investment they have with Clark, Lois or Martha Kent.
How to move forward?
I still believe Suicide Squad will be the best CBM of the year. After seeing this, I have faith that Jenkins’ Wonder Woman will be fantastic. The scenes with Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg gave me a jolt of excitement for their upcoming films.
Snyder is 0/2. He has severely damaged Superman, arguably the cornerstone of any DC universe.
Cut him loose. DO NOT let him direct the Justice League films. I feel bad for the guy, but he is not only hurting the DCEU, he is costing WB/DC hundreds of millions of dollars. BvS is going to have a huge opening weekend, and then a huge drop off. Like MOS, it will underperform, but even more so. There is a huge pool of talented people associated with the DCEU now. Let them take the universe to great places. Man-Boy Snyder has done his damage. Now let’s let others repair it. The wonderful characters of DC deserve it.


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