Following the theatrical release of Justice League, it looks like director Zack Snyder is going to tackle one of his long developing non-DC comic book/superhero passion projects next. This isn’t necessarily breaking news either, seeing as that it was first reported that Snyder would be taking a break from the unofficially titled DC Extended Universe all the way back in December of 2016. That was well before Justice League went though its highly-publicized reshoots under Joss Whedon’s supervision earlier this year, after Snyder stepped away from the movie’s production in the wake of a personal tragedy.
Although it was initially reported that Snyder’s plan was to work on a non-DC film next before diving head-first into Justice League 2 (a project that Snyder has been attached to direct since it was first announced back in 2014), Justice League‘s under-performance at the box office has raised heavy doubts about that sequel being included as part of the DC movie universe’s next “phase”. At the time of writing this, Snyder hasn’t even seen Justice League‘s theatrical cut yet, signaling that he is currently focusing his creative energies on developing projects that have nothing to do with the larger world of superhero movies and/or DC Comics adaptations.
That being said, a proper return to the world of DC on film certainly isn’t something that should be ruled out of Snyder’s future altogether at this juncture (more on that later). Before then, however, it appears that the filmmaker will be turning his attention to a smaller and more independent production.
The Island of Lost Snyder Projects
Out of all the Snyder projects that either the director himself has mentioned or which have been reported on since the filmmaker began working on the DCEU, The Last Photograph is the one that seems the most likely to happen first. That drama/thriller, which 300 and 300: Rise of an Empire screenwriter Kurt Johnstad scripted based on a story co-written by Snyder, follows a wartime correspondent and a special ops soldier in war-ravaged Afghanistan and, once upon a time, had Sean Penn and Christian Bale attached to star as the leads. Last year, it was reported that Snyder would begin filming The Last Photograph by late 2017, but clearly plans have changed and there’s been no firm update on the project’s status since then.
There are, of course, other non-DCEU projects that Snyder has expressed a desire to bring to life over the past few years, while working on Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and then Justice League. One such example is that of a George Washington film inspired by Emanuel Leutze’s iconic 1851 painting ‘Washington Crossing the Delaware’, in which Snyder would utilize his 300 visual sensibility to bring Washington’s Revolutionary War exploits to life on the big screen. As the filmmaker himself put it, while explaining his conception of the idea, “I pointed at this painting. It looks like 300. It’s not that hard.”
Snyder also confirmed to Wired earlier this year that he’s still working on the screenplay for a film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s controversial 1943 novel The Fountainhead. However, that project seems unlikely to become a reality anytime soon, following on the heels of the three-part adaptation of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged that was released in theaters from 2011-2014, becoming both a critical and commercial failure in the process. Suffice it to say, Hollywood probably isn’t going to be all that interested in adapting more of Ayn Rand’s literature in the foreseeable future.
Just a couple months ago, Snyder also released the short Snow Steam Iron online through Vero. The film, which is a gritty noir drama that stars Wonder Woman‘s Samantha Jo, was shot primarily on Snyder’s phone in and around the director’s office on the Warner Bros. studio lot. In addition to serving as a “cathartic experience” for Snyder following the suicide of his daughter and his subsequent departure from Justice League, the director informed Wired that he made the film in order to use it as a teaching device in an upcoming class on filmmaking basics that he intends to teach at his alma meter, ArtCenter College of Design.
There’s certainly nothing to prevent Snyder from making even more shorts like Snow Steam Iron and enjoying the extra creative freedom that comes with that approach to storytelling in the future, similar to how District 9 and Chappie filmmaker Neill Blomkamp has focused his efforts of late on churning out original short films through his Oats Studios banner. However, assuming that he doesn’t suddenly change his tune, it sounds as though Snow Steam Iron was a one-off experiment for Snyder and that he intends to get back to making studio-backed movies sooner rather than later.
A Return to the DC Movie Universe?
Snyder may well be done directing movies set in the DC cinematic universe, given that he has now completed his DC trilogy (with Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, and Justice League) and that the DCEU itself appears to be moving away from the Darkseid-oriented storyline that Batman V Superman in particular set in motion to be resolved in Justice League 2. However, DC films producer Charles Roven has confirmed that both Zack and his wife Deborah Snyder are actively involved as producers on the Wonder Woman sequel that Patty Jenkins is gearing up to begin shooting next year. The Snyders are also expected to be credited as executive producers on director James Wan’s Aquaman film, which has completed principal photography well ahead of its December 2018 release date.
The idea of Snyder ever co-writing and/or directing another DC comic book film cannot be ruled out entirely, but the change in creative direction for the franchise signaled by Justice League (in combination with the movie’s commercial performance) indicates that it’s pretty unlikely to happen. All the controversy surrounding the changes that Whedon made to Snyder’s original cut of Justice League aside, the latter seems at peace with the situation and ready to move onto different challenges, never being one to lack for ambition (as his plans for the future and slate of in-development projects illustrate). That means The Last Photograph should be next for Snyder and then, well, whatever strikes his fancy the most from there.
Then again, who knows: if the call for Snyder’s cut of Justice League continues to grow louder, then the next film release with the director’s name on it might well be Justice League Ultimate Edition on DVD and Blu-ray.
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