Before we begin, there is something very important I need to clarify: I am not a Zack Snyder fan. Come at me, Internet.
Maybe this will turn you off this article. However, I believe the lack of emotional connections to a movie, series, or director gives critics a certain point of view–one that is not clouded in bias. That’s why a movie like Star Wars: The Last Jedi was critically acclaimed despite being one of the most despised in the series. On the other hand, movies like Man of Steel or Batman v Superman were panned, despite now having a cult status.
I may not be a Zack Snyder fan, but I do appreciate his work. Dawn of the Dead is easily one of the best horror remakes. I enjoy 300. Man of Steel is easily in my top three Superman movies. And even though I find Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice frustrating to watch, I can’t deny that it’s ambitious and one of his best looking films.
Despite not being part of the movement, I was thrilled when the Snyder Cut was announced. I was glad we were getting a version of the movie without the damn mustache. After seeing the trailer, I was hyped. It looked like a hit more akin to Man of Steel, and less to a failure like Batman v Superman or Sucker Punch.
However, as more info came out, the more I got nervous.
Extra characters were being announced on a weekly basis. Even more reshoots were happening. Now, there are rumors of Ben Affleck’s Batman script being partly adapted. It all got me extremely nervous. It started to sound more and more like Batman v Superman, and I remembered those announcements making me nervous too. Anyways, enough stuttering.
Let me explain why I’m nervous about Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
We’ve all heard the term being thrown around, but how many of us know what it means? Well, to keep it simple, “creative freedom” is not just about letting the director tell the story they want–in this case, Zack Snyder. It’s really about filmmakers being allowed to think outside the box. Are they allowed to take as many risks as possible for the sake of creativity?
Problem is, I think creative freedom is extremely limited when it comes to superhero movies.
It is more of an ideology than a real concept, even in Snyder’s case. Like it or not, these stories and characters have been around for almost 100 years, with countless interpretations.
There is a certain blueprint, which are extremely difficult to successfully deviate in development. Snyder knows this, but that didn’t stop him from trying.
The result was a clash of visions. And that’s not the only thing that creates worry among some objective CBM fans. Now, let’s dig into one of the most controversial aspects of his filmmaking.
Zack Snyder’s Art Style
Zack Snyder has quite the unique style. Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, and Sucker Punch (I guess) showcase what he can do and how crazy he can get when given the right material.
His dirty, steampunk-like, overly-stylized atmospheres are cool. They are used perfectly in films like 300 and Sucker Punch (although that depends on whom you ask). Unfortunately, I don’t believe his art-style works with superheroes. Rather, I don’t think it works with the characters he chose to use. Considering how unique each member of the Justice League is, trying to make them all fit into one auteur-style is a mistake.
His style didn’t even work for Watchmen. Yes, Watchmen was meant to be satire, a criticism and deconstruction of the genre.
However, Watchmen’s colorful pages and pop art-style is in direct contrast with Alan Moore’s script. That contrast served as a balance to the darkness and amplified the horror we were soon to witness.
In Snyder’s movie, that balance is gone.
I’m about to beat a dead horse. As cliché as this might sound, Zack Snyder’s Justice League could use a lighter color palette. In a similar vein to the Watchmen novel, the color could serve as a direct contrast to his dark storytelling. Heck, it could’ve enhanced the experience if done right. However, there’s no way he’d ever do that, since he has total creative freedom for his cut of the film. Which begs the question…
Is Too Much Creative Freedom a Thing?
We know HBO MAX gave Zack Snyder the go-ahead to do whatever he wants. It’s his film and he has final say on any decision. As a result, we’re now getting many elements that were originally scrapped from even before he left the project.
However, all of this energy reminds of a great saying, one that says:
I think this is Zack Snyder’s main issue, which can be a strength. He has too many ideas.
He has a hard time incorporating everything into one strong narrative. As a result, the pacing of his films greatly suffer. Batman v Superman is the guiltiest example of this flaw.
Even though the Ultimate Edition is more cohesive, it still suffers from an oversaturation of plots and characters. I’m worried about Zack Snyder’s Justice League suffering the same fate.
Watchmen is another example of this flaw. Being a fan, Snyder tried to be as faithful as possible to the graphic novel. The problem is that novel is 416 pages long, and successfully adapting it in its entirety is impossible. As great as that story is, the movie felt both slow and rushed. The theatrical cut ended up being 163 minutes long and his director’s cut is approximately 185 minutes long, which did not fix the issues (in my opinion of course).
Focus Is Key
Snyder said it himself, he’s not one to make short movies. However, even at four hours long, there is a lot to tackle here. Snyder barely managed to tell a story about Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman in three hours. How am I supposed to believe he can handle five times that amount of content in the span of four?
This is everything Zack Snyder’s Justice League will feature:
- Aquaman’s original introduction
- The Flash’s original introduction
- Cyborg’s original introduction and character arc
- Batman’s original character arc
- Wonder Woman’s original arc post-WW and WW84
- Steppenwolf’s original role
- Martian Manhunter
- Green Lantern (possibly)
- The Joker (which wasn’t part of his original vision)
- Superman’s resurrection
And we cannot forget the additional photography that occurred. Snyder claims those reshoots were mainly for pick-up shots and additional context. In the end, he says there’ll only be about four minutes worth of new content, on top of the additional 150 minutes of unseen footage.
It’s as if he refuses to throw out a single one of his ideas, so he is using them all. Once again, we are at risk of a oversaturation. Hopefully, Zack Snyder is aware of what needs to be trimmed down, and what needs to be focused on.
This might all sound negative, so let’s end it on a high note.
What Gives Me Hope
It’s not all grim though. There is something that makes me hopeful for the future, and those are earlier comments when production of Justice League originally began. Recent comments are reassuring as well. Speaking with Collider, producer Deborah Snyder mentioned how different JL will be from BvS:
“Listen, I think every film is a learning experience. Right? And we hear what everyone has to say because we care what the fans say, at the same time, every story that we’re telling is a completely different story, and I think what’s really great is that where we were going is kind of what the audience is wanting. We just had to take the characters from somewhere to bring them up to where they are and that was kind of our journey.”–Deborah Snyder
She and her husband Zack also added that Justice League will have a tone of its own, and it’ll be an experience unlike Man Of Steel or Batman v Superman. Rather, it’ll be the evolution of both those films. From the sounds of it, Snyder learned a lot working on those films, and is ready to give us a unique experience that’ll incorporate everything he’s learned so far as a filmmaker.
Zack Snyder’s Superman
There is one other thing that I am looking forward to seeing–Zack Snyder’s character arc for Superman. His depiction of Superman has been the subject of criticism. Many, and I include myself here, felt like his version of the character did not feel like Superman. This coincides with what I said about these stories having blueprints. If you depart too far from them, you risk alienating your core demographic.
However, Snyder has since clarified he has no intention of deviating from classic Superman. Rather, he wanted to build his way up there. Speaking with the YouTube channel Beyond The Trailer, Zack Snyder said the following:
Anytime you can bring him back down to Earth, he becomes a lot more relatable. For that he’s more interesting. But I do have A huge respect for his moral code, and I think his ultimate place is as the top of the pyramid of the DC superhero world. In the end he has to achieve that pinnacle.–Zack Snyder
I’ve made my concerns public, but hopefully I’m wrong. Snyder’s been hearing from both his fans and criticizers for almost 5 years now. He knows what we want to see, and what we don’t. But also, he seems like the type of director to learn from his mistakes. With a bit of luck, Zack Snyder’s Justice League might turn out to be not only something special, but Zack Snyder’s best movie yet.
To conclude, I will leave you with this quote:
Do you agree with me? Let us know!