Yesterday the first reviews came out for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As of this writing, the consensus is mixed but skewed towards the negative. Of course, personal mileage will vary, and someone not liking something doesn”t stop YOU from liking it. But with so many critics taking the film to task, it makes sense director Zack Snyder was deployed to mitigate the damage even before the first review hit.
Fun fact: If a movie doesn”t have reviews until a few days before its release, it”s usually because the studio is nervous.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Snyder was once again on the defensive about his divisive decisions in Man of Steel. He also had words to say about Kansas morality and Star Wars, among other topics.
On the idea that this version of Superman is adult:
“I was surprised with the fervency of the defense of the concept of Superman. I feel like they were taking it personally that I was trying to grow up their character.”
The idea that violence equals maturity is not a new concept, but it is a tired one. Yes, adults have to deal with the dark corners of reality that children should never have to. But it”s because we deal with bleak reality that we could use some levity in our entertainment. Adults need to see optimism, to believe in the inherent goodness of humanity/Kryptonians, to be uplifted. Superman is a character of hope, dude.
In the same interview, Snyder says making The Watchmen changed how he sees superheroes. It”s true that Alan Moore”s cynical deconstruction was designed to pull down the superhero myth. But if any character deserves to have that jaded outlook checked at the door, it”s Superman.
On the idea of Kansas morality:
“The kid grew up in Kansas, raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, pretty solid salt of the earth people. Superman is the dream of a farmer from Kansas. Righting wrongs for a ghost. It”s sort of the Kansas morality, that black and white, unrealistic morality of fighting crime.”
Living in “fly over” country myself, I”ve seen first hand how some who live on the coasts lump Middle America into one homogenous group. A folksy, slightly backwards, down-home-charm group. I can only guess that might be where this idea that the population of Kansas is incapable of seeing the world in shades of gray. It's also super condescending.
On the violence in Star Wars:
I went, really? In ‘Star Wars [The Force Awakens]” they destroy five planets with billions of people on them. That”s gotta be one of the highest death toll movies in history, the new ‘Star Wars” movie, if you just do the math.”
If you can”t tell the difference between Star Wars destroying planets to hammer home how evil and dangerous the First Order is to the galaxy and having your hero destroy a cityscape with little regard for innocent bystanders? I can”t help you.
I”m having a hard time thinking of a comparable example in Star Wars as most of the battles take place in locations without bystanders (depths of the Death Star, depths of Cloud City, depths of Mustafar) or between two armies. The closest I can think of is the apprehension of Zam Wessell in Attack of the Clones. Obi-Wan removes her hand in a bar before she can shoot him. It”s quick, concise, and with no collateral damage. A move Obi- Wan repeats in his old age in a bar in Mos Eisley. At no point in Star Wars do the heroes just start hammering away on villains with no care for those around them. Violence is used to show the depravity of the Empire/First Order, not as a visually interesting backdrop.
With interviews like these – along with his body of work in the DCEU – I just don”t think Zack Snyder really gets Superman. Maybe it”s time to call in Paul Dini?