In Praise of the Snyder-Verse
by Tito W. James
Zack Snyder has had a long track record of bringing comic books to life on the big screen. Snyder’s stylistic tendencies were on full display in 300 and Watchmen. The world of morally grey mythological comic book characters continued in his controversial, but nonetheless spectacular, visions for Superman, Batman, and The Justice League. Now with the Snyder-cut on the horizon, I thought it would be a good time to look back on Zack Snyder’s contributions to the DCEU.
Man of Steel
When Man of Steel came out I purposefully avoided any trailers and went in to see it cold. When Krypton was first revealed in the opening sequence my jaw literally dropped and I sat there with my mouth open for a full minute. Screenwriter David S. Goyer‘s love of The Metabarons is clear in the design and scope of Krypton resulting in the most inventive vision for an alien world in contemporary science fiction cinema.
The characters felt like they had soared off of the comic book page while also cleverly subverting pop-culture expectations. My favorite performances were Russell Crowe as Jor-El and Antje Traue as Faora-Ul. Overall, the film felt less like a superhero movie and more like a first-contact alien invasion film, and that’s what makes it brilliant!
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
I saw Batman v Superman twice in theaters in downtown LA. The first time I saw the film on opening night and many fans were in cosplay. When Gal Gadot appeared on screen in her Wonder Woman costume during the Doomsday fight, the audience burst into applause. When the credits rolled, the film received a standing ovation. This was the first cinematic experience I’ve ever had where the audience applauded both during and after the film.
Batman v Superman was a mind-melting trip–as if someone had taken several DC comics put them in a blender, lined up the pulp, then snorted it like cocaine. And I mean that in the best possible way. I loved Jesse Eisenberg’s unexpected take on Lex Luther, Hans Zimmer’s operatic score, and Ben Affleck’s grizzled DKR-esque Batman. Snyder’s use of limited color palettes and slow-motion make the movie feel like a graphic novel in motion. We also got to see the most well-choreographed Batman fight scene since the Arkham games.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
The success of Joker and The Boys proves that there’s an audience for darker R-rated superhero stories. This R-rated approach was seen at the beginning of Zack Snyder’s comic book adaptions and it continues to this day. I never thought I’d live to see an R-rated version of The Justice League and it takes balls to push the envelope with such iconic characters.
While the darker tone is often the first thing viewers point out, Snyder’s vision for the DC characters isn’t nihilistic. Hope is not the absence of darkness but the belief in the capacity for good in spite of darkness.
In terms of visual bombast and the sheer insanity of the story, the Snyder-Verse feels right at home with my favorite DC comics. I hope fellow fans of Zack Snyder’s vision will find a sense of satisfaction and closure with the final cut of Justice League.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League is streaming exclusively on HBO Max now.