So, it’s been about a week since Zack Snyder‘s Sucker Punch started getting slammed by just about every critic worth reading, and more than a few casual viewers. In just seven short years, the guy has gone from the celebrated director of Dawn of the Dead (a great film) and 300 (an almost great film) to the highly scrutinized director of Watchmen (a film that could have been better) and Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Yeah, he directed that. No really, look it up.) to the positively vilified director of Sucker Punch. To add to his woes, he’s now shouldering the burden of directing a highly anticipated cinematic reboot of the original superhero, Superman: The Man of Steel.
It’s not entirely Snyder’s fault that the net is abuzz with worry and prophecies of doom over Man of Steel. It was going to happen anyway. Superman fans are highly suspicious of any new attempts to do the Man of Tomorrow justice, particularly after Bryan Singer’s less than riveting Superman Returns. But add to that the fact that Snyder is being treated with an increasing degree of internet faithlessness (still not as much as M. Night Shyamalan, mind you), and you’re bound to wind up with loads of naysaying, postulating and even sets of helpful hints to keep this new Superman film from turning into a Superclusterfuck.
But before we all go imploding like Krypton itself, let’s take a deep breath and ask a few honest questions. Is Zack Snyder really a bad director? Is it really such a bad thing that the re-invigoration of the Superman franchise has been placed in his hands? And, most importantly, is this all adding up to mean the promise of another bad Superman film?
It would be a tremendous overstatement to call Zack Snyder a great director, but it might be an even bigger overstatement to call him a bad one. Have a little perspective. He’s produced five films of varying quality in the course of seven years, and only one of them (Sucker Punch) has been even generally labeled BAD. I would submit that he has produced only one “great” film (Dawn of the Dead), but the other three were certainly anything but bad. 300 is certainly a very entertaining film, but it lacks anything beyond the surface value of its brutality and highly-stylized look, and Watchmen, though also visually gripping and faithful to Alan Moore‘s legendary comic, lacks the courage and ambition to become anything but a kneel at the altar of its source material (It also, by the way, contains one of the goofiest sex scenes ever committed to film.). So, an uneven director. A director with issues. A director who might be stuck in a stylistic rut he can’t get out of. But certainly not a bad director.
So, what about the fact that he’s been handed DC Comic‘s oldest franchise, a character second only to Batman in financial and popular viability? Does he have the moxie to bring it home safe? The simple (and scary) fact is he won’t know, we won’t know, not even DC and Warner Brothers will know until the flick is signed, sealed and delivered. The good news: he’s not alone. Snyder’s been asked to direct The Man of Steel, but DC wisely selected Christopher Nolan, the most bankable comic book movie man in history, to produce the project, and David S. Goyer (who worked on all three of Nolan’s Batman flicks) to write it. That’s a pair of talents that carries a lot of weight. And what’s more, though he’s just getting started, Snyder hasn’t made a bad move yet.
Let’s list what we know. Henry Cavill, a hot young actor who looks the part and has (I think) the chops to pull off the role, will be Superman. Amy Adams, an equally hot actress with loads of gumption, is set to be Lois Lane, and Hollywood icons Kevin Costner and Diane Lane are slated for Jonathan and Martha Kent. That’s nothing to smirk at for four major roles. He’s also promised to make Man of Steel his most visually realistic film yet, and he’s sworn that he won’t turn Superman into a CG nightmare. To put it simply, whether the internet likes it or not, he’s on the right track.
Speculation will continue. It always has and always will. Speculation will continue right up until the day next year when the flick finally rolls onto projectors nationwide, and then the speculation will commence on what went wrong or right and how and why. It’s our way. But honestly, at least so far, we don’t have much to complain about. If I can be hokey for just a moment, allow me to remind you that Superman has always been a story of hope. So, in that spirit, let’s take a page from the Big Blue Boy Scout’s book and have a little faith.
And if that doesn’t convince you, consider this: We’ve still got Green Lantern to worry about.