Justice League Release Should Give Proper Credit To Zack Snyder

In defense of Zack Snyder
In defense of Zack Snyder Zack Snyder/ @ZackSnyder

About a month ago it was revealed that Zack Snyder would not be receiving a screenplay credit on the upcoming Justice League film. Since then the rumour mill has been churning out surmounting evidence that Snyder’s departure from the DCEU may be a little more absolute than initially thought. From uncomfortably personal gestures, like removing all recent mentions of the Justice League from his twitter account, to professionally subtle ones like deciding not to do any press for the largely anticipated film, one can’t help but wonder if the critical lashing the director's vision endured in the last five years has soured his view of franchises. While I can not proclaim the initial trajectory of the DCEU to be a successful one, not even subjectively, I will defend Snyder’s unsung efforts to challenge expectation.

There is a lot of good to be mined in both Man of Steel and Batman V. Superman. To me the problems with those films were rarely due to technical incompetence or even “bad writing” (though that occasionally played a role). The ultimate nemesis of DC Films has always been impatience. The kind of deconstruction narratives Goyer and Snyder were clearly chomping at the bit to tell deserved a solid establishment. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns may be an elseworld book, but its narrative is informed and thrives off everything you’ve ever known and come to expect about Batman. I found Snyder’s decision to frame Superman as an alien, encumbered by his will to save a world he will never truly be a part of, to be an inspired one but if that theme is to have a chance at resonating we have to get to know Kal El as the winsome blue boy scout first. Before we explore the “What if superheroes were real?” we have to revel in the “What if superheroes were real!”

The same applies to Ben Affleck’s turn as Batman. A Batman that murders doesn’t, as a rule, have to be some cardinal sin, in fact it can easily avail a compelling fall from grace arc. What drove Batman to break his one rule? What has Gotham become that its unalterable guardian has regressed to careless, barbaric vigilantism? Questions that were vaguely posed in BvS, with poor execution and very little pay off.

Strangely, I’m sort of dejected when faced with the fact that I’ll never get to see Snyder’s DC universe unravel. Joss Whedon is an undeniable talent who no doubt possesses a certified set of skills that lends itself to everything fans (myself included) need a Justice League movie to be, but for better or worse what we’re in store for will almost certainly be less interesting than the heavy send up Snyder was crafting back in 2013.

If the 300 director is indeed bowing out of the franchise, we should not mistake his tenure as one completely devoid of merit. Outcome notwithstanding, I wished more filmmakers had the mind to overcome the pressures to mimic the irreverent, waggish, singular approach made famous by Marvel’s cinematic universe. Zack Snyder set out to “adapt” these iconic heroes, not pander to fanboys or succumb to industry trends but “adapt.” There’s an important, and often overlooked distinction there. For better or worse he made a work that was undeniably his own. And he deserves credit for it.

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