class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-12899″ style=”margin: 10px;” title=”superman_symbol” src=”https://www.heyuguys.com/images//2010/02/superman_symbol-220×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”220″ height=”150″ />When the recent list of contenders for director of the forthcoming Christopher Nolan produced Superman reboot Superman: Man of Steel was revealed, I found myself very uninspired.
Of the men named on the list, I only really found myself interested by the prospect of Duncan Jones’ Superman film. I immediately discounted Tony Scott, who really was the red herring on the list. I couldn’t really judge Matt Reeves, having only seen Cloverfield, which has a very definite style to it that doesn’t really carry over into any other type of movie, let alone a superhero one. Jonathan Liebesman’s name didn’t even register, to be honest.
Zack Snyder? I looked down my nose at his name, and had him down as a possible for the job, but for me, an unwanted one. I wanted Darren Aronofsky, a name I mentioned for the job eight months ago, and one that was subsequently mentioned as an addendum to the recent news story. This really did have me excited, and I pegged him in my mind as the man for the job.
Imagine my horror, then, this week when Snyder was confirmed as the chosen one. My voice screamed out in terror alongside so many others, as I immediately decried him as a terrible choice.
Then, I had a bit of time to think about it. What did I have against Zack Snyder for the job? A lack of substance in his back catalogue? An inability to get good performances out of his actors? An over reliance on digital trickery and slow-motion action set pieces? Well, yes. However, thinking through this list logically, I have not only come to terms with Snyder’s appointment, not only accepted it. I now find myself very excited about it.
Superman is the biggest comic book character in the history of the medium, and a global icon. Make no mistake, this news story is huge, and a Superman movie done the right way has the potential to be one of the highest grossing movies of all time. But what is the right way? What do we want from a Superman movie? The answer is, that we all want something different, which is why it is such a difficult property to handle.
There are those that want it to be faithful to the original comic. These people are split into sub-sections. Those that want it faithful to the actual original comic, those that want it to adhere to the period they enjoyed most, and those that want it to be faithful to what they think the original comic was, but is actually what was laid out in the original movie.
Which leads onto those that want it to follow the tone and canon of the original movies. Or the first two at least. Among these people you can count Bryan Singer, who actually provided the perfect example of why a new Superman project should NOT follow on from Richard Donner’s much loved films. There are also many still screaming out for Brandon Routh to come back. Seriously, no. You think he did a good job. He didn’t, he was blander than dry bread, and his lack of presence was a large part of why Singer’s misguided homage just didn’t work.
Considering as well that the biggest gripe about Snyder’s Watchmen adaptation was a slave-like adherence to the original source material, i think it is safe to assume that he will constantly be keeping one eye on the Superman mythos, and I am sure there will be plenty of nods to the character’s history. It will be a fresh film, but from what we have heard about Goyer’s screenplay it will remain true to the essence of what Superman stands for.
I think at this point it is important to remember that Superman is a comic book character. A medium which, by its very nature, is wholly visual. This is the first tick in Snyder’s column. He is known for visual flair. Singer’s muted colour schemes stripped away one of the essential elements of the comic book world. Superman is a primary coloured American hero. Comic books are all about bright flashy colours, and the thought of a Superman movie drawn in Watchman’s bold, stylish colour palette very much appeals to me. However much you dislike Snyder’s perceived over reliance on slow motion techniques, some of Superman’s powers will be best illustrated using this, and other digital techniques that more practical effects wouldn’t be able to match up to.
The biggest criticism I have heard in relation to Snyder’s appointment is the style over substance argument. I think that it was partly the substance within his Dawn of the Dead remake that made it one of the better remakes of our time. 300 was, by its very nature, lacking substance. It is difficult to build more into an action heavy swords and sandals epic, and even a filmmaker as talented as Stanley Kubrick was, for me, only partially successful at this in Spartacus. As far as Watchmen goes, it was an almost panel for panel adaptation of the graphic novel. Everything from the original story was there, so i don’t think you can blame Snyder for any shortcomings in story. I feel he did a very good job with it. It’ll be interesting to see what he has done with Sucker Punch.
I think that will give us a much better idea of what he can do with a story. Remember, the story was conceived by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, not Snyder. Nolan, whatever you think of him, has attained a great reputation with his films, and if he has chosen to guide this project it means he really believes in the story that Goyer brought to him. It is Nolan’s reputation on the line just as much as Snyder’s, and i don’t think he’ll be happy to sign off on a shallow action movie.
My biggest concern with Man of Steel is one of emotional core. As a collaboration between Nolan and Snyder, two men not known for putting genuine emotion on screen, there is a real danger that a possible overabundance of story and action will mean that the emotional throughline of Superman’s story will not be suitably explored. Very little concrete information is known about the plot, but there are rumours that it involves a globetrotting Clark Kent. This makes sense as far as matching Nolan’s James Bond movie-style tendencies, and does suggest that personal human (or extra-terrestrial) drama may well be swept up in the kinetic nature of the story.
Now that a director has been named, there will now be the inevitable flood of casting rumours. Snyder’s appointment means that now there will be more fuel on top of the fire of the ‘usual suspects’ linked with any Nolan movie nowadays. So as well as Di Caprio as Lex Luthor we are probably facing rumours based around Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Zod and Jackie Earle Haley as Brainiac. There has been a lot of criticism of Snyder’s ability to get the best out of actors, and taking Watchmen as an example, there were some very wooden performances. The work by the two above-named Watchmen actors as The Comedian and Rorschach respectively does however suggest that if you hire great actors, their ability will shine through. One of Nolan’s biggest strengths is his ability to put a stellar cast together, so assuming the process between Producer and Director is collaborative in this respect, i don’t think this will turn out to be a major issue.
I am still in two minds about Superman: Man of Steel and Snyder’s appointment, but at the same time I find myself cautiously optimistic. I really hope that I have managed to allay the fears of at least some of the naysayers. I think that Zack Snyder (assuming he avoids any love scenes) is capable of bringing a great Superman movie together. If you do still feel distraught about the news, i have a couple of words of consolation for you – it could have been worse, we could have got McG.
Bazmann – You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/baz_mann