With Justice League in his rearview mirror, Zack Snyder can start looking to the future. And, while he may be done with the DCEU, there are plenty more franchises for him to pick from. At the moment, Snyder is currently in pre-production on his first post-Superman project, The Last Photograph, but that’s not to say he isn’t preparing for the future. Between directing, writing, and producing, Snyder moves faster than a speeding bullet, so it’s only right that he starts considering his options.
Snyder is, above all, a visual director. In fact, he’s routinely a filmmaker who has been accused of preferring style over substance, but that’s not to say that his films haven’t captured the attention of audiences all over the world. He embraces his love of comic book heroes, leaning towards darker interpretations of established characters with unexpected (and sometimes divisive) narrative choices.
Love him or hate him, Snyder has made a significant stamp on the film industry (with popular franchises especially), so it’s only to be expected that his next venture would exist within a familiar realm. But which one?
Though He-Man isn’t the easiest character to take seriously after Slackcircus Studios had him cover “What’s Going On?” by 4 Non Blondes, the source material still holds up for what it is. Based on action figures that eventually spawned an animated television series, a film adaptation, and an entire legacy of Conan the Barbarian-inspired masculinity, the Masters of the Universe franchise would benefit from a modern facelift.
Zack Snyder is no stranger to introducing healthy doses of grit and realism into otherwise fantastical products. With Master of the Universe, he’d get that and more. Ingrained testosterone, visual primacy, exaggerated action – it all checks out. With a franchise like Masters of the Universe, as well as characters like He-Man, Skeleton, and Teela Na, translating everything to the big screen is a challenge (which is probably why it’s taken studios 30 years to consider revisiting the franchise in the first place), but at this point in his career, Snyder has proven that he can modernize tough material.
Gargoyles was a dark, brooding, and sometimes vicious dive into a world where monsters and humans (sort of) co-exist. The titular nocturnal creatures slept in stone shells during the day, but fought crime by night, embracing their New York City landscape and personalizing themselves with some modern charm. At once creepy and heroic, these outcasts fit the bill for Zack Snyder’s character-based trademarks; he’s usually drawn to characters who live in the shadows (literally and figuratively) and stand for justice, even though their basic natures might suggest otherwise.
With this sort of adaptation, Snyder would also be in visual heaven, having the freedom to use the city (both on the ground and in the air) as his cinematic playground. He’s handled heroes (Justice League, Man of Steel), outcasts (Watchmen, 300), and even monsters (Dawn of the Dead), so this could easily be a kind of celebration of all his favorite elements.
As someone who has become known for a fast-paced (and arguably bombastic) style, Snyder might benefit from a change of pace. While it’s safe to say that the man has a very specific approach and range, shaking things up could do him some good. So, instead of tackling something that risks shoehorning him into monotony, while also sticking to his roots with comic/graphic novel adaptations, The Private Eye could be a perfect option.
Set in a future where the internet has been disrupted and the “cloud” exposed to the public, this highly-stylized and violent graphic novel pivots the human condition into a dark, yet colorful, backdrop, which perfectly complements Snyder’s existing filmography. Trust and identity has more or less dissolved in this world, and with the focus more reliant on mystery than high-caliber super abilities, handling this sort of adaptation could prove to audiences that Snyder is no one-tone wonder. It can also force him to temper some of his more unnecessary embellishments. As a filmmaker who enjoys delving into humanity’s suppressed darkness, a story where individuals make it their sole objective to protect their identities in a ravaged future could be the perfect vessel to quench his creative thirst.
Nobody said that it would be easy adapting fighting cat people from a children’s television show into a serious, live-action movie. The adventures of Lion-O and his trusted band of Thundereans translated perfectly to Saturday morning cartoons in the 1980s, but could also prove effective in live-action if given a proper adaptation – and Snyder would be a worthy candidate to do it.
It’s definitely the most lightweight of these suggestions, but that could make ThunderCats the sort of movie that puts Snyder’s abilities to the ultimate test, figuring out how to perfect a balance between kid-friendliness and adult depth. Crafting an approach to the series that doesn’t lose his personal touches, yet also embraces a greater sense of fun, could do this sort of adaptation justice in the end.
Justice League seems to have divided just about everyone. From the lackluster villain to the way Wonder Woman got a character downgrade after her standalone film, this flick didn’t quite hit all the buttons fans hoped it might. That said, though, not all of it can rest at Snyder’s feet, and neither should he turn his back on the whole comic pantheon. He clearly wanted to take the DCEU into a much darker direction than some audiences wanted, but maybe his style would be better suited for a different sort of Justice League, with characters who are older, jaded, and divided.
Snyder seems to love conflict among peers, and the comic book miniseries Kingdom Come is that and more. Heroes oppose heroes, villains rise, and chaos ensues. With such a massive body of characters, this sort of adaptation could easily work on its own outside of the DCEU (something we know WB are keen to do care of the Scorsese Joker project and talk of an Elseworlds banner) and the franchise constraints that always held back Snyder. It would hardly be a safe bet, but given the fact that Snyder is at a unique crossroads following the relative failure of Justice League, a risk might be exactly what he needs.