Years ago we saw 300 and wow were we ever blown away. Then a lot of time passed with Zack Snyder hard at work being the best knock off JJ Abrams he can as lead creative for the Cinematic DCU. Well, we now have three of these films and a few more that were supposed to line up with them and the verdict is in – We Do Not Need Any More Bad DCEU Content from these Creators.
INTO THE SNYDERVERSE!
I wont say there’s nothing good in Zack Snyders DC movies, I would just point out that we pay far too high a price in these movies to set up the good stuff. Visuals and aesthetics aside all Snyder has made is a bunch of uneven Mystery Box lens flare nightmare movies. They all take around an hour for the plot to kick in and his dialogue is horrible.
The movies are built mostly on three elements. First; it’s (some of) the cast- which is unable to connect much to us or each other, probably because the dialogue is laughable. Then we have lots of fan service. Last we get mostly pretty good fight scenes (mostly).
Maybe the most watchable movie is Batman Versus Superman- which his fans seem to think is his worst – he handles things fairly well most of the time and falls off a cliff for a while at others. Its typical of Snyders work in its best and worst moments.
Batman Versus Supernan is the point in these movies (as they came out) where most of the Justice League first either is either in play or is baited and teased. Its the best reference point and lens for my overview.
Full Disclosure- To really let Snyder unfold his vision this overview is based off his exhaustive 3 to 4 hour directors cuts. He claims its how he intended his movies to be seen, so it just seemed fair. It was also a lot of work. The stories arent that fun.
As a director, Snyder is just longwinded, sort of boring and very clunky showing us what happens.
These movies unleashed a bunch of supposedly familiar, beloved characters for the first time in this continuity. There was cause for optimism. There was a lot to work with.
Except this whole Universe ended up being pretty much Brand New, it simply contains some familiar faces. Theres heavy revisions. Snyder has fundamentally changed all the characters without proper re-introductions. The whole idea had been billed as a coordinated vision based partly off the Dark Knight movies. That’s not really what they gave us though. Looking back, by the end of Man of Steel there was need for a course correction. This didn’t happen and the problems really piled up quickly. The Snyderverse seemed to have sputtered to a deserved end.
Then the Covid Pandemic closed theaters and cut off most studio income, leaving them so desperate they release the Snyder Cut of Justice League onto streaming markets just to get some cash. This injected new life into the Snyderverse despite it being more cynical, contradictory, pondering non entertainment. The worst thing that could happen for fans would be giving Zak Snyder more time with these characters. The movies we have so far are simply subpar and almost fan fiction.
Batman vs Superman gives us many doses of contradiction, unexplained situations and weird conveniences. Batman is obscure- but famous. He wont kill – but he WILL mark you for death in jail.
The way Lex Luthor plays in to the story as a whole could have worked – but the story is a mess. He isn’t menacing. Just bipolar, high and annoying. This terrible character has too much screen time.
BVS is the second time we see this apathetic, cynical, joyless Superman. We also throw in this new, pretty vengeful and different take on Batman- which works somewhat better. This is a lot of new, different stuff though right away. And theres LOTS of cringe.
Like when Ghost Dad Kevin Costner shows up and makes you long for Glen Ford its so bad. Fortunately he splits after a bizarre story about the time he killed some horses and found love. Thanks dad. Its a lot like Homeless Han’s pathetic “Memory Ghost” in Rise of Skywalker. Thinking JJ stole that idea from this.
At the start of BVS Sup has spent most of the last 18 months having the worlds most superficial relationship with Lois Lane; shopping for groceries with blithe indifference to the events of Man of Steel – a movie with a death toll so much higher than Avengers 1.
In Man of Steel the Kryptonian attack is sustained and devastating. There’s just no way there were less than 100,000 dead from the multiple 9-11’s per minute that fill the last hour of Man of Steel. The attack is NOT Survivable in huge swaths of the city. During the fight the Kryptonians mock Superman over and over for caring too much about the people of Earth- while they die in droves around him to his complete indifference. Its visually amazing, but at too high a price story wise because while Superman mostly says the right things, his actions (and inactions) show hes not very self aware. He’s sort of self centered.
This Superman just never really reacts to other peoples pain. He sort of just hovers and watches the suffering, seemingly indifferent. He’s a Collateral Damage Machine who just comes off as heartless. He willingly throws his opponents through downtown buildings on a workday while the citizens pointlessly run from one 9-11 to the next.
Superman doesn’t try to so much as draw the bad guys away from the city to fight. We can be sure a whole lot of people just die. Superman is a mass murderer as dangerous as the Kryptonians. The only fathomable explanation for why anyone likes him is that people in this world are really fatalistic and simply prefer to be killed by Superman rather than his opponents.
Not all the changes are intentional. Snyder does no damage control to make Superman more noble. There’s little reason for Superman to have any fans, but he does despite this. Batman is also somewhat changed. Lex Luthor has no charisma and is not a potent rival to Superman. Lois Lane is needlessly confrontational. Perry White is unsuited for media work, on and on.
This new, cynical Superman has different priorities. He’s inexplicably magnetized to Lois and shows up the very last moment before she would be killed to save her. He starts mass murdering whenever shes in danger. If Superman was faced with a choice where he could save the whole world or only Lois he would just save Lois. He wouldn’t think twice about it or even feel bad. The Kent’s have raised him not to care. No overcoming Bad Parenting!
This Superman is totally okay with killing people and doesn’t mind the fact he cant save everyone- lots of times he can save people but elects not to- like in the previous movie when he dutifully obeys his fathers wishes to be killed horribly by the worlds slowest tornado.
So hes pretty different from the Superman that was established. He also makes bad decisions left and right, like idiotically refusing to use his heat vision much when its clearly his best weapon in this iteration. You’re probably better off with Homelander.
Just to show how different this Superman is – heres Superman as we knew him expressing his dedication to Justice and sounding- ironically- far less cartoonish and more like the selfless, dedicated hero we remember.
So heres the mechanisms by which Zak Snyder slowly and redundantly sets up a non fatal fight between Superman and Batman- which still feels pretty thrown together. I cant use the term PLOT for this series of occurrences.
The first hour of the movie is kind of pointless. We all know Batman but we have a long slow mo intro that shows the key events that lead him to be Batman, like the death of his parents and the discovery of the Bat Cave- where he shows an early ability to shake off fatal falls. Its ok I guess, as opposed to Wonder Woman, who sort crashes the movie.
We then circle back to the end of Man of Steel and get some human perspective on the Kryptonian Attack via Bruce Wayne- whose means of getting from Gotham to Metropolis is just a bit unclear. It appears he opts to take his normal car there as Bruce Wayne and thereby minimizes his abilities. Was he already in Metropolis? Why not go as Batman if he sees this from Gotham? Imagine if Snyder had simply used the established gothic look of Batman’s city to help us out? More on that later! The attack and its aftermath inspire Batman to start crafting a plan to pretty much just murder Superman- who Batman considers too much of a wildcard that he’s starting to hate. So he begins finding and hoarding Kryptonite.
At the center of the story we have this older, supposedly Nolan inspired Batman who repeatedly says hes been at it for 20 years. Gotham even has the Bat Signal hes been active for so long, Batman seems to be pretty well known by now.
This is all cool and what we’d expect of Batman two decades into his career. Then we throw it all out the window. No one in nearby Metropolis and a lot of the cops in Gotham itself have any clue who Batman is. Despite the Bat Signal. The cool stuff we saw doesn’t mesh with Batman also being obscure.
This worlds Batman was sold in ‘Bait & Switch’ style as Nolan’s Batman recast. Theres nothing to that. This is a brand new Batman.
This Batman has some new traits and we can forget the events of The Dark Knight Trilogy. Snyder’s Batman is the darkest iteration ever. This Batman is particularly ruthless.
While there is some precedent in the comics; this take on Batman is often removed from the actual continuity. It’s an alternate, even darker Batman. Sometimes he exists in a Blade Runner-like World or another Dimension. He’s possessed of an infinitely more damaged psyche than our worlds Batman. His biggest virtue is that he looks really awesome in his unique Bat suit when we first see him in BVS,
Snyder’s Batman is much more vengeful and sports heavy armor. He’s not as changed as Superman, but we’ve piled a lot of needless complications and new traits on. Combined with the inconsistent nature of Batman’s fame it’s a lot to try to ignore as the movie plods ahead.
Meanwhile in Metropolis, Lois Lanes ex church janitor turned Unqualified Journalist boyfriend Clark Kent takes an interest in the mysterious ‘Bat Vigilante’ who’s suddenly creeping around Metropolis. He never bothers to google him or look at the papers from adjacent Gotham (where they HAVE A BATSIGNAL!) though. So there’s just no real internet and no FBI in this world! Also,Clark sucks at this job. Blame the idiot editor who hired him, Perry White.
Any troubles at the Daily Planet and some of the uninformed stupidity rampant in Metropolis can be blamed on idiotic, disinterested anti-media editor Perry White. Hes not interested in cause and effect. He despises journalistic curiosity and offers no guidance. Perry White is the only character to care less about what happens in Metropolis than Superman. The least curious, most indifferent man in this universe. The Daily Planet’s headline for the Kryptonian Attack was likely “Strange Events Postpone Baseball” So it’s another heavily revised character.
This Perry White will shoot down any interesting story. He doesn’t have any interest in profound events. The Moon Landing would not have been important enough to make Page 1 of this paper. He’s deeply incompetent.
What kind of editor hires a farmer turned janitor to be a reporter? Worse, the farming skills are actually useful. Perry is like ‘Just sweep that dirt under the rug, Kent! There’s no Batman!” I dont see how this squares with him seeing actual aliens blow up most of Metropolis the year before. We spend too long watching Lawrence Fishburne using considerable skill to deliver a decent performance in a bad role. This Perry White has no traits of a journalist or editor. At all. Its starting to feel a lot like The Last Jedi as far as characters consistency.
Then we get a bad cameo from good actress Holly Hunter as a Karen-ish politician skeptical of Superman and Lex. She heads a Congressional commission investigating the Alien Attack. Snyder uses her as a springboard to – no kidding- make nonstop references to piss.
Piss is an important element in this movie. Lex communicates threats with piss analogies or actual piss. Victims of the Kryptonian Attack give us their feeling on pissing too.
While the Congressional Hearing is looking to be a loser for Superman -it just works out. Lex Luthor blows Holly Hunter and the Congressional commission to pieces along with the US Capitol Building in a terrorist attack of immense proportion. Since the only survivor is Superman its just obvious to everyone it was him. There doesn’t seem to be security cameras in this world.
Incredibly, blowing up the Capitol turns out to be no big deal and is without lasting consequences. No one bothers to piece the attack together. Lois sort of gets it, but it barely plays in. Again- this world could really use an FBI!
The movie is filled with world changing events that then have no implications. We just gloss over them. I guess people here only read the nonsense in the Daily Planet!
In a directorial move that feels unintended we’re left to realize the supposedly misguided and idiotic government commission (ripped right out of the Marvel Universe) was on point – Superman is a dick. He could really help the people in this world, they REALLY need saving as they always freeze and stare when in danger. Every single time. Hes just not that into it though.
Wonder Woman- named so apparently by Lex in a file on the only useful computer in this universe – is minimally in this, just teasing her movie. Theres not a lot of problems with her- or there weren’t when they released the movie. Wonder Woman says she walked away from the world of Men 100 years ago – a story that WW84 makes preposterous.
This movie is almost totally unaware of the events laid out in the Wonder Woman movies – that in this timeline precede it. Hard to say whose fault that is. Also throw in that now we know that one of the bystanders doing nothing is Martian Manhunter – as revealed in the contradictory Snyder Cut of Justice League – so we have to wonder about his disinterest in these events.
BVS, like all Snyders DC movies, is littered with errors. However of the DCU movies Snyder made- or the other ones in his broken world – it’s just maybe the least bad. Its still only an ok movie that’s an hour too long.
A typical unforced error is the sheer proximity of Gotham to Metropolis. Theyre in sight of one another. As mentioned earlier, Snyder makes no attempt to differentiate the cities- Despite long rich cinematic histories for both! Snyder makes them into ‘Anytowns’. Its a shame and another blatantly missed opportunity. It also could have livened up the visual storytelling these movies so lack.
Zack Snyder movies are just not smooth. Slow motion fight sequences bloat too much of the action. Characters talking to themselves or even simply reciting their backstories when they show up are his preferred devices. He hits the same points over and over only to blow them off and move on.
This is about the longest movie to ever feel rushed. The first hour drags. Then things just happen, usually due to coincidence or simple lack of communication. People off screen are frozen in time and are absent for long periods unexplained when they could be helping out.
Things start getting shambolic in the last hour of the movie. To get his dream match-up between Batman and Superman Lex kidnaps Lois and accosts her with a nutty sort of atheistic rant. Theres just so much religion in these movies. Its over the top.
Then he enacts his ‘masterstroke’ and ‘cleverly’ throws Lois off a building just high enough for her to fall long enough for Superman to save her, because Lex just knows he will? It’s a terrible plan. Works anyway.
In the ensuing encounter with Superman Lex just knows Sup wont kill him (because Lois is safe?)Lex needlessly reveals he knows Bruce is Batman when he says he’s been hate-mailing him.Lex then conveys to Superman his mom is being held by creeps with a conspicuously unloaded, laughably heavy machine gun and for some reason, a flamethrower. In another religious rant Lex explains he wont let Sups mom go unless Sup fights Batman and wins. What he thinks will happen after that is unclear. Why a supposed genius would think he could beat or elude the winner of this fight is not explained. Bad Plan, mostly works anyway.
So now of course Batman and Superman fight. Its all because no one listens to each other. Then they give up talking til things are looking pretty fatal. It looks great. This Batman really does look and sound cool. Hes not much of a tactician this time around but hes not unlikable – like poor Henry Cavill’s Superman.
When Batman and Sup finally get on the same page their plan is bafflingly bad – Batman will save Superman’s mom and Superman will stick around and take care of Lex while he protects Lois- over his own mom. This despite their skills being suited for taking the opposite roles. Its a bad plan. Works anyway. We do get a great Batman fight scene out of it. Don’t know why it had to be so dumbly accomplished though. The cost is again too high.
The creation of Doomsday was started 20 minutes earlier by Lex using Kryptonian tech and his own blood in a BAD creation scene thats thrown in there for no real reason. A major villain. This only culminates with just minutes to go in the final action sequence. Anyway, this ‘Abomination’ and Superman go at it using all their superpowers. Doomsday percolates for quite awhile before showing up in a meaningful way. You almost forget about him.
Charging to the end the story gets way out of this movies league with the frivolous use of Nuclear Weapons.
In short order Superman and Doomsday are nuked in the upper atmosphere by the US. This sends them plummeting straight back to Metropolis- which is just a magnet for space debris. This is while Batman, Lois and Wonder Woman tangle with Lex in the Kryptonian Ship from Man of Steel (that Lex is allowed to access; alone; for no real reason I can come up with other than hes rich).
Contradictions REALLY start to really pile up at this point. Suddenly Superman can tolerate a kryptonite spear that gave him opiate withdrawal syndrome 10 minutes earlier.
One thing sort of leads to another in a not so great fight. When its all over Doomsday and Superman are Dead.
Then they catch Mark Zuckerburg— I mean Lex Luthor- and they send him to Facebook Jail- aka Arkham Asylum. There he will be tortured and mistreated according to Batman, who speaks of Gotham as though he’s a more a Metropolis kind of guy. “I still have a few friends in Gotham” he says, to my confusion.
It’s just another strange dialogue choice. A few friends? Like Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and all the rich people Bruce hangs out with? You have your home base and a 20 years history there dude, you kind of RUN Gotham. Makes no sense.
Then we end with a super depressing double funeral sequence that is pure cringe and dumb. Obvious questions about who pulled off stealing the lone body and how there was a funeral for Clark and a weird public MILITARY one for Superman are unaccounted for and hard to process –while we’re supposed to be feeling sad. I sure didn’t feel sad. Good riddance, Mass Casualty Man!! Some of the soil over Clark’s grave floats. On that subtle note we end.
Thats it, we’ve reached the credits!! At least Alfred was fun.
Credits are nice, we like credits. These run like 10 minutes. A small city worth of people was employed, GOOD!
— OUT of the SNYDERVERSE! —–
Now we’re left to consider the implications of what the Snyderverse has become – I suggest it’s merely an ad hoc mess with more questions than answers. Snyders blunt methods are largely to blame but issues abound.
All movies are made worse – not better- as a result of the companion movies. No creator cared a wit about a complete vision, this includes Zack. The movies are at odds. No one back-filled anyone else’s content. Seems no one even hired a Script Doctor at any time across this whole effort either.
So many contradictions. Why does no one know who Wonder Woman is when she was all over TV and got the entire world to renounce their wishes in 1984? And why is Superman simply unconcerned about mass casualty events and his own mom? And theres so much more.
Rules were established in this movie that are ignored by other DCU creators and Snyder himself. It’s how the DCU got so broken.
Like Krypton, Zack Snyder had his chance. Theres no putting this broken universe back together without a reboot.
The Snyderverse is a dark, boring, slow and really poorly explained universe where things simply happen. Most of the relationship between Clark and Lois is left to the imagination. It starts out of nowhere in Man of Steel and develops off screen between movies.
The fact Snyder just doesn’t ‘get’ Superman is really a problem. He also doesnt get Batman either. While not as changed as Superman, we’ve never seen Batman on screen like this before. The bad dialogue is again often contradictory. So apparently there was a real lack of re-drafting the script. Theres people who do this for a living who could have saved these movies.
There’s dialogue so much worse then the cringe-ist line in the Star Wars Prequels. Exposition is mostly people showing up and blurting out their backstory and goals in a corny way when they say hello or by simply talking to themselves. Snyders inability to set a scene or do visual story telling had him repeating things and using text on the screen, often needlessly.
Snyders rampant Dream Sequences serve up cheap unearned fan service. This writing ‘hack’ is used in BVS to jam in a confusing ‘alternate future’ where Superman is now a SuperHitler Oppressor-Type just because Lois died. This is pretty ominous considering Lois is human and must one day die. Did we just find out Superman is a ticking timebomb? Too high a price for cool visuals.
In Justice Leagues Dream Sequence they pretty much tear you out of the movie just so The Joker can make unfunny homophobic jokes. We again pay too high a price just to see The Joker.
The way Snyder skips around in time in the story makes his pictures worse than most. Challenged on dialogue and exposition; Snyder lets us imagine far too much for a cohesive movie. He relies on what we know from the comics and just throws situations together cause thats what Superman or Batman does. He cant earn it so he shortcuts around it. This exacts a toll on the story.
The color grading is so controversial its a blog post of its own. Its distracting and sterilizing. Supposedly artful, he used to it better effect in other movies and now its a crutch and merely one more obstacle.
People interact in illogical ways. In Man of Steel Clark asks a preacher for advice. He tells the preacher his problems but then just walks away without getting really any feedback but a look. This can only be called an unforced error.
Superman’s humanity is simply ignored for the sake of spectacle. Its done over and over til Snyder breaks the character.
The characters are handled badly. No one has traits suitable to their lives or careers in these films but they succeed anyway. The longer cuts were a wash- creating new questions for every one they resolved. The movies are crammed full of world changing events – that then have no implications. This happens so much Perry Whites disdain starts to seem normal.
Its INEPT. Snyder is a terrible visual story teller who lacks INSTINCT. Snyders movies strain suspension of disbelief.
We dont need to see anymore of these characters through Zack’s eyes. Time to move on.
The future is not looking promising either. Next the real JJ Abrams – genius creator of The Rise of Skywalker- gets a shot at this. JJ probably doesnt do much better. What we need is a BREAK and some Damage Control….but it probably aint gonna happen.