Zack Snyder’s role as chief architect in the DC Extended Universe has divided fans from the start. When he kicked things off with 2013’s Man of Steel, his dark approach to Superman immediately repelled many fans, even as it resonated with others. The director came in for further criticism two years later thanks to Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, with many adamant that he was all about wanton destruction and not the uplifting stories usually associated with the superhero genre.
With Justice League failing to meet expectations, speculation emerged that Warner Bros. is looking to move on without him, fueled even further by the studio’s updated slate of DCEU movies and internal restructuring.
While disasters such as Henry Cavill’s mustache-gate and Steppenwolf’s poor CGI didn’t help the situation, it’s harsh to judge him on the merits of these things because the end-product wasn’t solely his. In the end, the film was a creative amalgamation with Joss Whedon.
That said, while many blame Snyder for a lot of the DCEU’s downfalls and the overall lagging behind of Marvel Studios in terms of quality, it’s unfair to make him the sole scapegoat. Despite the flaws, Snyder has been just as instrumental to the DCEU’s success. Dropping the ax on him at this point wouldn’t just be unfair, it would be a huge mistake. Here’s why.
He’s All About Comic Book Grandeur
Critics say Snyder doesn’t get superheroes, especially after he had Superman kill Zod and then impulsively brawl with Batman. But if you look at how Snyder mapped out the DCEU, he really does understand their motivations. He created the potential for alien invasion in Man of Steel, used BvS as a vehicle as to why the planet’s heroes needed to assemble, and then brought everything full-circle in Justice League with the team battling Apokolips’ forces. In other words, it felt like a comic event coming together.
Putting aside how Snyder rushed this particular assembly of League, you can see how his vision matched what Geoff Johns scripted in the New 52 when Darkseid invaded Earth. This shows that Snyder does have an eye on all eras of DC Comics. After all, Man of Steel felt like a mash-up of modern Superman graphic novels — Earth One and Birthright — while BvS was heavily influenced by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s The Dark Knight Returns from the ’80s.
In short, Snyder is a DC fanboy. That’s why, despite the stigma that he only deals in gritty stories, he was able to help develop the lighthearted Wonder Woman origins story with Patty Jenkins. It’s this passion which also led him to cast the right people, as seen with the risk he took on Gal Gadot. He knows his characters and who should play them. This illustrates Snyder’s creative versatility, as well as his vision and ambition for the DCEU as someone who’s just as deeply connected to the films as he is the comics.
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