Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (hereafter called BvS) is not a good movie. Most of us have either come to terms with this fact, or have begun to forget about the movie entirely. The underperformance of the movie has had several effects, from rumors that Warner Bros. will release the R-rated version of BvS, to the director Seth Grahame-Smith leaving the Flash movie over “creative differences”.
Blame for the movie is being spread around, of course. But the ultimate responsibility, for my money, lays on Zack Snyder. Hundreds of people worked on the movie, but he was the one that made all the creative decisions that made the movie what it was. The thing of it is, it’s not like we didn’t have ample warning.
Let’s look at a Zack Snyder interview with EntertainmentWeekly, from July, 2008. When asked about if he was always a comics fan, he said that he had a subscription to Heavy Metal magazine, but when a friend tried to get him into normal comic books, he said “No one is having sex or killing each other. This isn’t really doing it for me”. When told that grim and gritty could work in the Watchman movie’s favor, Zack said that Batman was cool, and got to go to a Tibetan monastery and be trained by ninjas and also said “Okay? I want to do that. But he doesn’t, like, get raped in prison. That could happen in my movie. If you want to talk about dark, that’s how that would go”.
Is this what Zack Snyder thinks is “grim and gritty”? And the Warner Bros. executives never saw this interview and told themselves that maybe hiring this guy to do their DC Comics movies may not have been the brightest of ideas?
Then there’s the constantly shifting justifications he made for the creative choices he made in Man of Steel, from Superman learning how to not murder by murdering, to lame mythology excuses. If he had just said that it was his creative choice for Superman to be an uncaring monster and that the next movie would deal with the consequences, and stuck by that statement, the Superman fans would not have liked it, but we would have lived with it. Instead, he piled on excuse after excuse until we no longer knew what he was thinking.
Finally, there’s the reasons he gave for killing Jimmy Olsen and Robin in his latest “masterpiece”, BvS. When asked about why he murdered Jimmy Olsen, he said “we don’t have room for Jimmy Olsen in our big pantheon of characters, but we can have fun with him, right?” As for Robin, he said “In my mind, it was that Robin had died 10 years earlier, during some run-in with a young Joker. So there was a fun backstory there to play with”.
Zack Snyder equates the murder of various DC Comics characters with “fun”.
You know what really hurts? It’s the fact that the movie probably had a far better director right there in the cast. Ben Affleck was an Academy Award-winning director (for Argo). He probably knew, better than almost anyone in the production process, what Zack Snyder was doing, and how totally Zack was destroying the movie. Don’t believe me? Look at his face during an interview (which was funnily done to Simon & Garfunkel):
You can almost hear what he was thinking: “I tried to help. I tried mightily to keep this movie from becoming a train wreck. I talked to Snyder. I acted my ass off. I tried to save this movie.” And he failed. That is what's written all over his face.