Looks like it’s gonna be “Snyder Movies Week” here on the ol’ blog.

§ February 17th, 2021 § Filed under movie reviews § 10 Comments

So folks had a lot (a lot) to say in response to my post about the forthcoming New And Maybe? Improved Zack Snyder’s Justice League, coming soon to a some device or ‘nother near you, which to be fair I suspected there was a chance that I’d be opening a can of worms here. A little can of worms, not more than a couple of ounces, but, y’know, enough. And frankly I’m not sure where to even start here.

But first, I’m grateful I had thoughtful, reasoned responses from regulars, and not drive-by one-shot comments from the ZS Superfans who would skim my post long enough to decide (wrongly) that I hate Snyder’s movies and drop some misspelled leavings protesting my very existence. So, you know, thank goodness for that.

Now the comments that were left seemed to be mostly negative regarding Snyder, with one person firmly in the positive column, and if I were to include myself, one person in the “okay with Snyder, with caveats” not-quite-middle-ground I often find myself in. That…probably reflects the overall online response to his films.

And I already said this to Daniel on the Twitters, but let me repeat it here…I know from feeling like The One Guy fighting that uphill battle supporting that project that everyone else seems to be determined to tear down, i.e. All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder and Frank Miller’s The Spirit. And I absolutely support and condone Daniel’s thought-out defense and championing of the Snyder-verse.

I also wanted to make sure Daniel knew that my opinions on his work, and its comparison to Marvel’s film success, weren’t intended to be the be-all, end-all Final Word on the topic, and that other opinions of course existed. But just the style (or “style”) I was writing in, the tack I was taking, was presenting a specific view of the situation that I believed generally represented the public consensus. If folks didn’t like it, or disagreed with it…well, my comments are open for a reason, and Daniel did the right thing leaving his rebuttals there, which I appreciate.

To that point that I like the Marvel movies more than the DC movies…well, I think there’s no disputing that Marvel was more successful in marketing, in making each movie an event that you had to see, in building a shared cinematic universe that reflects in its way the evolution of the print Marvel Universe. Also, doing it in such a way that the audience is (mostly) entirely on board with it. They spent years doing it, using the second-and-third string characters they had left over after selling off the rights to their heavy hitters to other studios. Making Iron Man the heart of a multi-billion dollar film franchise would have seemed unthinkable a couple of decades ago, but here we are. Making a movie based on a version of Guardians of the Galaxy (and that there would be two of them, and they would be huge, would have had anyone espousing that idea locked up for their own good.)

Yes, I think the Marvel movies, overall, are more of a good time, more of the upbeat fun I want from watching a superhero film. As commenters noted…yes, there is bit of a sameness in the look ‘n’ feel to that franchise. Having the same guy in charge of all of them, having them all fit “the house style,” isn’t necessarily surprising, really. Not to mention a lot of the movies are origin stories, so just in terms of structure those are all going to feel the same. But I feel like there’s just enough variety to them so that they don’t seem exactly the same. I mean, no one’s going to confuse Guardians with Thor: The Dark World (especially since one is good and the other…well). But enough of the Marvel movies have “Hero Vs. More Powerful But Evil Version of Hero,” but that’s just a long-standing action trope anyway.

In comparison, the DC movies, and in particular the Snyder films, are…certainly heaped with the gravitas that most of the Marvel movies lack. I’ve said in the past that the first Avengers movie is fun but absolutely as deep as a sidewalk puddle after a brief summer drizzle. Not to say Marvel’s films didn’t occasionally touch on weighty topics (like Iron Man’s PTSD). I don’t have a problem with the darker tone of the films, which I think is an entirely valid interpretation. I don’t agree with every creative choice made, and I think some of the choices made are unfairly derided (the whole “Martha” thing I thought was a good shorthand for Superman finally being “humanized” in Batman’s eyes).

I think my primary objection is that this is the film version of Superman we’re getting right now, a darker and more dour rendition of the character that mostly belies his primary nature. Now Daniel laid out the case why the Superman etc. films are optimistic, and I’m fine with that…not trying to argue that. But I feel like I would like to see a more balanced/more overtly traditionally heroic version. Not denying the right of the Snyder films to exist, just that maybe I’d like to see a different movie.

As I’ve said, I thought the Justice League movie was drifting in the right direction, with a somewhat lighter tone. A Man of Steel 2 or a Justice League 2 would have been interesting to see where exactly they would have gone, but that’s sort of a moot point now. And the other DC films are moving toward more more Marvel-like model (less so Wonder Wooman, absolutely Shazam, and I think we can guess how the new Suicide Squad will go). When I noted that the expanded Justice League may be the most Zack Snyder-est of Zack Snyder films, I’m not joking…one last hurrah for Snyder in this movie universe, throwing in everything in his bag of tricks for this four hour brouhaha. (I like the comment left that it was specifically made four hours long to avoid getting Rifftraxed.) Still looking forward to it…perhaps I give the nod to the success of the Marvel films, but at heart I’m a DC kid and those are the movies I really want to see.

Okay, I’ll try to respond to more comments Friday. I thank everyone for their thoughtful and polite contributions, and I hope they remain that way! Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in a couple of days.

10 Responses to “Looks like it’s gonna be “Snyder Movies Week” here on the ol’ blog.”

  • I’ve enjoyed the last two posts along the comments. What is a weird thing in my head is that I have almost exclusively bought DC over Marvel comics my entire life. And yet I like the Marvel films over the DC films, and I’m trying to look at them as books and not film. (Does that make sense?)

    I know who all the characters are, but I think I’m tainted by DC’s new52 vision, because I think I stopped picking up as many DC books around 2009. Is this something anybody else might think would be something to consider?

    I very much enjoyed the first IRON MAN film, and I also agree with how Mike described the first AVENGERS film. But I just can’t enjoy the DC films as much. Why is it Zod and Luthor rinse repeat? Will we ever get a Brainiac film? Yes, we’ll never get John Ostrander’s SUICIDE SQUAD, so I try to watch the film they did make trying to put the new52 out of my head. But I can still enjoy it, just not as much as most Marvel films. (I’ve never seen a THOR film.)

    I’m rambling now, as old men do. But when watching the films, does anyone think of the comics? Seriously, why would I read primarily DC since the 60s and yet have next to no interest in any of their films of the last decade? No one really brought up the comics themselves in the comments, is it even important to think about them? I dunno, I’m just asking. And I do want to see a film with Brainiac in it.

  • Daniel says:

    This was a good, thoughtful articulation of your views. Like I told you on Twitter, I enjoy reading you even when I disagree with you. For me, part of the joy of film criticism is the forum of spirited debate that it inspires.

    I know that Snyder’s fans get (what I feel is an unfair) bad rap. And there are some bad actors in the fan base. But I personally have seen much, much more outright vitriol and irresponsible behavior directed at Snyder from his critics than I have seen bad behavior from his fans (there was one comment in my Twitter feed last week from a Snyder critic saying that Snyder was personally responsible for driving his daughter to suicide, which is just beyond the pale and, sadly, not unique in the criticism I’ve seen directed at him).

    At the end of the day, though, Snyder’s fans may be passionate, but they also raised over a half-million dollars for a suicide prevention charity. So when people criticize his fans for being selfish and entitled, there is actually a spirit of generosity amongst that fan base which I have never seen amongst any other fan bases.

    I know that is all off topic, but I just wanted to put it out there that Snyder’s work doesn’t just entertain people, but it has inspired genuinely positive and generous actions from his fans.

    Thanks again for sparking this conversation.

  • JohnJ says:

    Mike, I don’t remember any specific columns of yours about The Spirit movie. I don’t hate it, but I remember being put off by having the Octopus physically there, although it would be hard to do a movie with just some guy’s gloves showing up occasionally. Loved all the choices for The Spirit’s line-up of femme fatales. But there were some scenes that just made me think Miller was trying to make his version of a Daredevil movie, instead of The Spirit.
    I do own a dvd of it. I guess I was just hoping it would be a little better.

  • Daniel Trogdon says:

    I think the problem I had with The Spirit movie is that The Spirit strip is very much a comic, more so than other comics*, in a way that doesn’t translate well into live action.

    I’d put Groo, Plastic Man, The Flaming Carrot and others I’m sure many others I can’t think of off the top of my head in the same category.

    I think The Spirit (and all those characters) would work better as a traditionally animated film–assuming there’s a reason to make a film about them at all (an assumption I would challenge).

    *Please don’t ask me to elaborate–like obscenity, I know it when I see it.

  • Daniel Trogdon says:

    Ugh. I wish your platform allowed comment editing. I hate it when I find a mistake.

    “I’d put Groo, Plastic Man, The Flaming Carrot and I’m sure many others I can’t think of off the top of my head in the same category.”

  • Daniel Trogdon says:

    Or have you turned off comment editing?

  • Robcat says:

    Good points from everyone about movies. As a middle school teacher, one of the things I try to teach kids is appropriate teasing. We don’t make fun of names, bodies, abilities, religion, politics, etc. You want to tease someone, that’s why we have movies (and music and sports teams). Plenty of chance for fun debate over things that are not that personal. (Of course, don’t be mean. That’s never right.)

    Having said that, I root for the A’s and liked the Daredevil movie.

  • Mikester says:

    Daniel T. – No, I don’t have comment editing on this platform. Sorry about that…in the future feel free to email me and I can fix any errors for you!

  • […] keep this, the third installment of “Zack Snyder: Friend or Foe?” (parts the first and second) reasonably short, instead of throwing my usual Wall o’Text at you. But, um, doesn’t […]

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Making Iron Man the heart of a multi-billion dollar film franchise would have seemed unthinkable a couple of decades ago”

    I have to give credit to CGI for making a-non-crappy-looking Iron Man movie possible. Imagine what it would have looked like, had they made it in the 70’s!

    “less so Wonder Wooman”

    WOO WOO!

    Wayne Allen Sallee: “John Ostrander’s SUICIDE SQUAD”

    I really do hope Ostrander gets LOTS of royalties for those movies. i know, they’re more based off off the comics that came after the original series, but those would never have happened with out that one! And I would NOT have guessed back then that THAT series would eventually turn into a mainstream movie!