In what was likely a desperate bit to keep subscribers, Max eventually caved into fan demand and released Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League, and even the most jaded fans had to admit that it was (ahem) leagues better than Joss Whedon’s theatrical cut. However, this led to some historical revisionism as Snyder loyalists insisted that if the studio hadn’t interfered with the director’s vision, the DCEU wouldn’t have been such a total failure. But here’s a hard fact that DC nerds will have to make peace with sooner or later: Zack Snyder was the single worst thing to happen to DC.
Zack Snyder is a gifted director, but by focusing so tightly on the larger than life heroes, he lost the reason why Superman is trying to save people in the first place.
One reason that Zack Snyder has been so bad for DC is that the director (who became a household name after the success of movies like 300 and Watchmen) notoriously doesn’t care about common people, preferring instead to focus on larger-than-life heroes and villains. That sounds like it would be a good fit for the superhero medium, but it’s not: many fans were rightfully horrified at the rampant destruction of Metropolis in Man of Steel, and they wondered why Superman didn’t care about all the people he was helping to hurt or kill.
But the truth is quite bleak: Superman didn’t care about the humans dying because Snyder didn’t care, as he just wanted a story of two superhuman titans slugging it out. It makes for a good spectacle, of course, but Zack Snyder’s Superman doesn’t seem to care all that much for the very people he is meant to save.
That “S” might mean “hope” back on Krypton, but in Snyder’s DC universe, all citizens of Metropolis can hope for is that their savior doesn’t knock a building on top of them as he throws one careless punch after another.
To his credit, Zack Snyder incorporated some of the criticisms he received from DC fans when making Batman v. Superman, turning Superman’s reckless battle into the driving force behind Batman’s hatred for the alien savior.
But the director seemingly doubled down on his weird portrayal of Superman: this is a character that told Batman to “consider this mercy” after he asked the Caped Crusader to hang up the cape and cowl, implying that the choice to not simply kill or maim Batman meant that Superman was doing this frail human a favor.
That “S” might mean “hope” back on Krypton, but in Zack Snyder’s DC universe, all citizens of Metropolis can hope for is that their savior doesn’t knock a building on top of them as he throws one careless punch after another.
And if Superman’s portrayal in Batman v. Superman is bad, Zack Snyder’s Batman is much, much worse (which is a shame, as Ben Affleck is one of the better actors to bring this iconic DC hero to life). Take whatever you know about Batman (like that he hates guns and killing, for instance), and you can count on this film to subvert your expectations in the worst possible way.
Eventually, it’s enough to make any honest fan ask why Zack Snyder was ever chosen as an early architect of the DCEU, especially since he seemingly has a poor grasp of these famous characters.
It’s also clear that Zack Snyder had a weird vision for the future of his DC movies that he kept shoving into films, even at the expense of a coherent narrative. For example, he was fixated on showing us a bleak future “Knightmare” sequence of a world where Superman, after Lois Lane’s death, becomes a global tyrant. Snyder seems so fascinated by the idea of an “evil” Superman that we wonder if all the bad characterization was meant to lead up to this dark future.
Superman becoming evil has been a common trope in DC media for years, and it seems like that was the ultimate end goal for Zack Snyder’s DCEU.
That future is a cool idea on paper, but Zack Snyder had no way of organically setting this up, leading to bizarre moments like future Flash visiting present-day Batman in a dream. Accordingly, it was tough for fans to get hyped about what might happen several movies down the line when they could barely understand what was happening in the current film.
And Snyder even kept an extended look at this nightmare future in his Justice League cut, bizarrely giving DC fans a setup for sequels that were never going to happen.
Ultimately, Zack Synder’s biggest curse is that he wants to develop original IP and characters, yet made a major name for himself by adapting films from other creators’ work. The final result is that we have DC characters that act nothing like their comic counterparts and movies that lack the emotional resonance or even narrative cohesion of what came before.
This director was the worst thing to ever happen to DC films because he mishandled so much so comprehensively, leaving fans to hope that James Gunn’s DCU reboot can finally do justice to these amazing characters.