Right now the Interwebs are all ablaze with debate over Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, which debuted this past weekend (read our review HERE). The film – previously heralded as one of the most anticipated films of 2011 – ultimately got KO’d as both a critical and financial dud.
That hard hit already has the fanboy community clogging website comment threads with prophecies of doom in regards to Snyder’s next film, the Superman reboot, Man of Steel.
Here at Screen Rant we’ve recently been critical of the fickle opinions of fanboys when it comes to comic book movies, and the reactions to each casting and/or development announcement about Man of Steel have certainly proven some of our criticisms. Every single decision about this Superman movie seems to piss off a section of the fanboy nation: General Zod and Lex Luthor as possible villains; Henry Cavill as Superman; three-time Academy Award Nominee Amy Adams as Lois Lane; even Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Diane Lane as Martha Kent. Certain sections of fanboys have been crying that it is all “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!” and that Superman is doomed before cameras even start rolling on his latest cinematic outing, which Snyder has promised will envision the character in a more grounded and realistic way (unlike many of his other films).
Zack Snyder being tapped as the director of Man of Steel was always a controversial choice among fanboys – surprising, really, considering that Snyder was heretofore known primarily as ‘the fanboys’ director,’ after delivering film adaptations of Frank Miller’s 300 and Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen that were both extremely faithful to their respective source material in terms of aesthetic and story. Heck, back at Comic Con ’09 I even saw Snyder hop into a boxing ring to accept the “Fans Award” for the loyalty he showed to comic book source material – how many directors get that much love from geeks?
Still, even with all the debate over Snyder helming Man of Steel, fans (for the most part) initially took solace in the fact that Chris Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer – the team behind both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight – would be overseeing the script and development of Superman’s next onscreen outing. As discussions in our comment threads progressed, the prevailing attitude was that a Snyder/Nolan pairing would be one of mutual benefit: Snyder’s knack for visuals and action would combine perfectly with the Batman team’s knack for unique and engaging storytelling, resulting in a Superman film that would explore the character in fresh and exciting ways, while still delivering the epic action people want to see from the most powerful superhero of them all.
Now that Sucker Punch has…er, sucker punched even the most ardent Snyder fans with a story and film that is overly ambitious at best, exploitative and shallow at worst (you be the judge), it seems that people have forgotten all about the fact that the Nolans and Goyer tackled the initial job of crafting Man of Steel‘s development and script, despite Chris Nolan ultimately “handing off” the picture to Snyder in order to focus on his third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. In the days since Sucker Punch has been released, I’ve personally read hundreds of comments on dozens of sites, all echoing the assertion that Zack Snyder’s apparent failure with the first film he both wrote and directed automatically spells doom for ‘his Superman movie.’
This is, of course, not at all the case.
Yes, Nolan’s influence has waned considerably since Man of Steel was first announced, but like Guillermo del Toro’s work on The Hobbit before handing that picture off to Peter Jackson, there will inevitably be traces of the Batman team’s stamp left imprinted on Man of Steel‘s DNA. The film is also going to be a major and important release for Warner Bros. next year – one that is going to be carefully developed and built, despite the tight production schedule (due in large part to ongoing legal issues with the Superman property rights).
This film will NOT be a Zack Snyder free-for-all, where the director is given a loose leash to realize Superman in whatever fashion he chooses (that mistake was already made with Bryan Singer). Even the cast of Man of Steel – despite fanboy nitpicks about things like Amy Adams not being hot enough to play Lois Lane (a silly notion if you know the character), or Diane Lane being too hot to play Ma Kent – is shaping up to be stronger than most of the other comic book movies DC/WB has put out (no Katie Holmes or Malin Ackermans to worry about yet).
I say all this to say – relax, people. One bad film does not poison a filmmaker’s entire future. Holding up Sucker Punch as evidence that naysayers were right all along about Zack Snyder being a poor choice for Man of Steel is simply specious reasoning. There is always room for a filmmaker to grow and mature (especially when working in collaboration with other great talents), and it’s equally important to make sure the baby stays in the tub, even when you’re dumping out all the bathwater. Say what you will about Sucker Punch – visually speaking, the film did pack a punch (sorry), as have most of Snyder’s films. In all fairness, Snyder has as much potential to make the most visually impressive Superman film to date, as he does to fumble the ball and drop it.
That potential alone is enough to keep me at least on even ground in regards to my early impressions about Man of Steel‘s development. Am I saying that the film is guaranteed to be awesome? Not at all. It’s been a long, long, time since I’ve been willing to invest blind faith in a Superman movie (with good reason). Yet, even in my skepticism I try to remain equally open to the idea that a Superman movie can be done right again, and Sucker Punch‘s failings have in no way extinguished that hope, let alone proven it to be invalid. For now, I echo the words of the zen master from that old Buddhist parable: “We shall see…”
How about you – after seeing Sucker Punch, do you think Man of Steel is a doomed project in Snyder’s hands?
Sucker Punch is currently in theaters.
Superman: Man of Steel will be in theaters in December 2012.