Superman is not a complicated character. He’s a symbol of hope, a hero who stands for all that is good. It’s easy to forget that, given how many stories focus on him using his godly powers to beat up a godly villain. Many people don’t recall that what made Superman iconic wasn’t his power, but his heart.
And then there’s Zack Snyder, who clearly thinks he understands Superman and hates what he thinks he is.
It’s no secret that Snyder’s DC cinematic universe has been… problematic. If you can call making some of the most despised movies of the 21st century something as forgiving as ‘problematic’. His dark, gritty, and violent takes on these characters have been well received by… some people, apparently. But generally speaking, most normal, sane people who aren’t teenagers in their edgy phase dislike these movies.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Terrible dialogue, dated special effects, and a strong focus on franchising over making one good movie dragged down all of these movies. More often than not, however, the criticism is leveled at the characters.
Batman is the one that everyone points at first. It’s easy to see why. Snyder’s version of the character is about the furthest thing from the iconic crusader that one could possibly create. In the comics, Batman is a vigilante with incredible combat prowess and intellect, someone who shows kindness to those who deserve it and punish the wicked that justice cannot touch. But no matter how bad things get, he follows a single creed: to never kill.
Which is exactly why Snyder’s Batman murders several people with the Batmobile, brands criminals so that they’ll get murdered in jail, and straight-up shoots a guy down with a gun. And before you pull the whole ‘it was just a dream’ card, remember: this is a guy who canonically calls himself Batman in his head. He’s pretty damn dedicated to his role and his rules. Or at least, he’s supposed to be.
But I’m not here to talk about Batman. Everyone’s already talked that subject to death. Instead, I’m going to look at the one that is pretty frequently brushed over: Superman.
Snyder’s Superman is the exact opposite of what Superman should be. He’s a hypocrite who uses his godly powers to murder people and doesn’t even try that hard to save people. He’s basically just a nuke in tights. Rather than actually saving people, he just does what he wants when he wants to. People only just happen to get saved in the process.
Those are the points that everyone else goes over. They’re the obvious ones, the in-your-face ones. Mainly because they’re basically all that this version of Superman is.
Now, this is definitely a problem. But if the movies were written to accommodate this version of the character, it could work. It wouldn’t make comic nerds happy, but it could make for a semi-decent movie.
But then you get into how everyone else reacts to Superman.
The people in Snyder’s version of DC Earth are divided on how they view Superman. Is he a savior? Is he a threat? Do we trust him? Do we get rid of him?
The correct answer is: GET HIM THE HELL OUT OF HERE!! ARE YOU KIDDING?! DID YOU SEE HOW HE DESTROYED THE CITY AT THE END OF MAN OF STEEL?!?! THIS DUDE IS A THREAT TO HUMANITY!!
What the hell does Superman do to earn the trust of the people? The answer is: nothing. When Lex Luthor says “We need a contingency plan for this super powerful and uncontrollable monster”, the audience nods and goes “YEAH!” There is literally nothing to prove him wrong. Nothing to make people actually like Superman.
So… why was his funeral at the end of Batman V Superman a national event? Why did everyone love him when he came back to life? Why do the people in this world stop being afraid of Superman and start loving him?
There is a distinct disconnect between what the audience is being told VS what they’ve actually seen. Snyder tried to make Superman this big divisive subject because ‘that’s what’s realistic’ (because I go to my comic book movies for realism). But then he presented us with a Superman that shouldn’t be controversial at all. People should be afraid of him. Why does this man that does nothing but ruin things have admirers?
Wait… when did I stop talking about Superman and start talking about Zack Snyder?