I’ve received a lot of thoughtful responses to Zack Loves Superman. Many positive which I appreciate, but also some with additional concerns, which I’d like to address.
They raise plenty of good points that nothing in the video is relevant if Snyder is unreliable- either not completely honest about his feelings, playing politics, or if his feelings have changed- or if, irrespective of his feelings, Warner Brothers is mandating an emphasis on Batman in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. In either of those cases, I would tend to agree, but I’d also hope that neither situation is the case. We’re operating on very limited information. We have yet to see a single frame of confirmed footage or one iota of official plot. In the absence of facts our reactions are being guided by our emotions and pre-conceived notions and prejudices more than anything else.
Thus in the absence of such facts, I’m electing to be hopeful. I’m deciding to be optimistic. That choice makes anticipation for this film a wonderful, rather than a hand-wringing, experience.
Statistically speaking, of course, it’s still the safest way to travel.
Facts, inferences, evidence, and data can help quell anxiety, but even they can’t convince someone committed to worry or a position of dread. Of course, their fears could ultimately be entirely justified… but what a way to spend the next year of your life! (Or half-decade if including the other slated DCCU films!) I can only offer you some meager arguments… for those who want to believe, have faith, and have hope. I can’t prove the future will be good. I can’t make you hope. However, I can try to share mine.
Is The WB Imposing Batman On Us?
If you check out our Creative section, it is oft repeated that Snyder was well protected by his producers, Chris Nolan and Deborah Snyder, during MOS and he’s basically indicated that is the only way he’s willing to work (pointing to Ga’Hoole as an exception and sore spot that he doesn’t intent to revisit) to maintain his passion. The WB has been hands-off with its big directors like the Wachowskis, Nolan, Cuaron, Affleck, and now Snyder. The sting of Green Lantern remains a persistent reminder not to attempt to direct from the boardroom by committee. For better or worse, I think he’ll be allowed to execute his vision.
I tend to think it will be for better. In the April Forbes interview, he’s aware of the attachment to the Reeve Superman and perhaps reveals a bit of frustration that he was more attached to the comic book version imported into the real world. If Snyder has moved on to Batman and didn’t care, he wouldn’t try to justify the disconnect. Snyder expressed a similar frustration with Sucker Punch, but this will be his first chance to actually address it with a follow-up film (unintentionally, Man of Steel did serve to show that Snyder’s previous stylized films were a creative choice rather than a limitation on his ability, MOS did not rely on slow-motion or heavily stylized reality as had become his trademark prior). I think he’s not going to pass up on the chance to answer the critics that doubted his Superman vision.
In the same interview, Snyder reveals that the discussion of Batman arose only in the context of raising the stakes for Superman. What do you fight next after Zod? Justifiably, the character with the iconic stature of Batman was considered a contender for Superman. It wasn’t Warner Brothers mandating the presently more marketable and popular Batman be in the film for commercial reasons. It was a creative decision, which means the filmmakers have the passion and motivation to execute the vision.
I’m not gonna say at all that when I took the job to do Man of Steel that I did it in a subversive way to get to Batman. I really believe that only after contemplating who could face Superman did Batman come into the picture.
Batman was hand-picked to tell Superman’s story… and the film evolved from there.
Are Snyder’s Interviews Unreliable?
Of course, who cares what Snyder has to say about it if his testimony is unreliable?
There is some concern that Snyder was only infatuated with Superman around Man of Steel but has since moved on to adoring Batman. Everything Bat-related coming from the film or Snyder acts as confirmation of the concern and Superman is now “second fiddle” in the successor to his own world. I don’t think this is a necessary interpretation of the tiny tidbits that we have. The only substantive interviews Snyder’s given since is with Hero Complex / LA Times in March and Forbes in April, and both were still excited about Superman.
Is Snyder simply being political? I suppose putting Superman down would be out of the question, but if you consider the clips, Snyder is routinely candid. He’s on the press junket for his own film and creation, Sucker Punch, and yet he picks Superman over them. He owes his breakout success to Frank Miller, but he still says that take is inappropriate for Superman. He loves Batman and The Dark Knight Returns, but acknowledges that you’d need an entirely different Superman to tell that story after the theatrical release of MOS and next to the loudest Batman fan in the world, Kevin “Fat-Man on Batman” Smith, where there’s no need for politics. Perhaps all of this was done to court Superman fans at the expense of his own film, Frank Miller, and Batman fans?
I think the more plausible explanation is that it reflects how Snyder genuinely feels.
But Snyder Loves Batman!
Snyder also loves- and probably first loved- Batman. I don’t think that means he doesn’t have room in his heart to also love Superman and adore Wonder Woman. It doesn’t have to be “either or” and even if there is a preference, it doesn’t matter so long as the story honors Superman and gets him where he needs to be with the audience, someone worthy of being the chairman of the Justice League. A preference for one over the other does not automatically translate into disdain or dishonor. Snyder has a very real goal- creatively, commercially, professionally, practically- of establishing the Justice League, something that can’t be done without showing each member due respect.
Worrying that Superman will be completely subservient to Batman either implausibly believes Snyder will let his alleged bias completely overwhelm his long-term goals and directive… or has, perhaps, too narrow, thin-skinned, and overly-sensitive a definition of subservient. If Snyder tweets two Batman-related matters for every one Superman-related matter, personally, I’m not going to lose any sleep. It’s not substantive. It’s not the final film. It makes complete sense that the new and shiny toy with the new and shiny toys gets more attention at first.
If all this is too touchy-feely subjective (and it is! we have so little information!) then consider the cold hard fact of cold hard cash. I guarantee that more of the film’s production budget and visual effects budget is being spent on Superman than Batman. It is inherent in the character and what is required to bring him to life today. The greater the objective investment, the greater the interest in ensuring that it works and pays off. Especially, if the point is to entice the audience into investing and anticipating the more fantastic Justice League. Making the more mundane Batman (who already works) the star doesn’t inspire or require the League.
These are reasons to hope.
In my continuing effort to find different ways to communicate, I’m working on an infographic illustrating the elements that we know about and how they break down as Superman elements, Batman elements, etc. So far, it seems overwhelmingly Superman. It’s just a terrible looking infographic by a person with no graphic design background, heh. Stay tuned!