Zack Snyder explains why his films don't depict heroes as innocent. The filmmaker kicked off Warner Bros.' own comic book franchise in 2013's Man of Steel and he went on to direct two more movies in the series in 2016's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2017's Justice League. But even before that, he had already made a name for himself in the geek community with his cult favorite movie, 2009's Watchmen, which revolved around a group of mostly retired American superheroes who were sent to investigate the anomalous murder of one of their own. What seems to be a very straightforward mission turns into a string of unexpected events after they stumble on an elaborate conspiracy.
Watchmen was a catalyst to Snyder landing the pioneering job for Warner Bros.' DCEU. After success of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, the movie was a fresh spin on the superhero genre narrative via a significantly lesser known DC property. Although it did get divisive reviews, it impacted the way studios now craft their own comic book films - including the emphasis that not all heroes are all goody two-shoes.
During the Watchmen panel of Zack: Snyder: The Director's Cuts event at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena over the weekend, Snyder explained why his films has always depicted heroes with moral ambiguity and he resorts back to his adaptation of DC Comics limited series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. "Once you lost your virginity to this f***ing movie and then you come and say to me something about like 'my superhero wouldn’t do that.' I'm like 'Are you serious?' I'm like down the f***ing road on that. It's a cool point of view to be like 'my heroes are innocent'…That's cool. But you're living in a f***ing dream world," he said. Watch the full segment from the presentation shared on Twitter by user @boomborks below:
Snyder's approach to Watchmen carried over to his subsequent comic book films such as Man of Steel and Batman V Superman. Both films had some controversial moments rooted in some of the characters' choices. In the 2013 film launching Henry Cavill as Superman, he kills Michael Shannon's Zod toward the end of the film. Three years after, Ben Affleck's Batman ruthlessly killed a slew of henchmen. These creative liberties didn't bode well with some comic book fans as they pointed out that these contradict how these heroes have been portrayed in print for decades.
It's understandable that longtime comic book readers may be slightly repulsed by Snyder's choices in his films, especially if the original treatment of these characters had a huge impact in their lives. But at the same time, he can't be faulted for attempting to modernize these heroes and come up with films that are more complex than the straightforward bad guys vs. good guys dynamic. And at this point in the evolution of the comic book movie category, it's about time that people get smarter films.
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