On a certain level, director Zack Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer’s vision of a brooding and conflicted Superman for the 21st century was an undeniable success, with their superhero blockbuster Man of Steel having grossed $663 million worldwide and given rise to a developing sequel (tentatively known as Batman vs. Superman) that will blow the doors open wide on a larger DC Cinematic Universe by introducing both a different Caped Crusader (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), as we learned earlier this week.
However, the fact of the matter remains: Man of Steel has also divided both professional critics and hardcore Superman fans, even more so than other recent superhero franchise reboots like The Amazing Spider-Man. That may change in the future, as a wave of DC movies come to shore over the forthcoming years; not to mention, as people revisit and (possibly) re-evaluate their initial thoughts on the subject.
Until then, Man of Steel remains a film that is far from universally acclaimed, so it doesn’t come as a huge shock to learn that it’s not on the Academy’s shortlist for a Best Visual Effects Oscar nod in 2014. The current lineup includes 10 contenders – Elysium, Gravity, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, Oblivion, Star Trek Into Darkness, Thor: The Dark World, Pacific Rim and World War Z – but the roster will eventually be whittled down to five (though, if we’re being honest, we all know that this category is Gravity‘s to lose).
Man of Steel producer Charles Roven was interviewed recently by Desde Hollywood (hat tip to CBM), when he talked about DC comic book adaptations like Christopher Nolan’s Batman/The Dark Knight trilogy and Snyder’s Superman reboot. He reiterated what a number of people have said before, with regard to how the DC superhero universe differs from Marvel.
Here is the exact quote from Roven:
“I can’t speak for the Marvel comics. I certainly believe that they have done a great job in being very successful in what they are doing so they should continue. One of the things that I like in terms of what they are doing vs. what we are doing is that the movies are different. When you see what Zack Snyder or Chris Nolan is making in this genre, one that I am producing with Emma Thomas or Deborah Snyder, we go for certain themes that are slightly more adult even though they are very universal.”
Like Roven said, Marvel and DC properties are different, not better or worse than one another. Snyder has called attention to those unique qualities of DC properties in the past, when he’s explained how characters like Superman, Wonder Woman and other members of the Justice League are mythological archetypes for the present-day; hence, the sheer amount of destruction and mayhem inflicted upon Metropolis in Man of Steel is an updated representation of the battles that are depicted in centuries-old myths about gods and demo-gods (with visuals befitting the post-9/11 era of storytelling).
Combine that with how films like The Dark Knight and Man of Steel treat their respective title characters – and the issues they face – very seriously, and it’s fair to say: those movies are, indeed, “more adult” than the light-weight and more campy, but fun Marvel Studios’ releases (that comes from someone who quite enjoyed Thor: The Dark World, no less).
Personally, I was a fan of Man of Steel, especially when it came to how Snyder blended exhilarating action choreography with stunning imagery of a dying and war-torn Krypton landscape, among other effects-heavy sequences in the film. That the effects in a movie like World War Z made the initial cut over Man of Steel is kind of baffling, but as was indicated before, Snyder’s movie is splitting moviegoers too much to have actually secured an Oscar nod in a category like visual effects from the Academy (the same will likely prove true for The Lone Ranger).
That said, there’s a reasonable chance that Man of Steel will at least be nominated and/or recognized for a technical category that is considered less prestigious, like Best Sound Design (as well it should); assuming it doesn’t get completely shut-out, like what happened to The Dark Knight Rises.
Heck, even the Transformers movies get nominated for Academy Awards in the less buzzed-about technical fields…
Batman vs. Superman/Man of Steel 2 opens in theaters on July 17th, 2015.