Zack Snyder, ever since he made his feature film debut with the 2004 with the remake of the horror film Dawn of the Dead he has not always pleased the critics. Snyder tweaked the Dawn of the Dead story from 1978 and made it more for modern audiences. 75% of 182 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 6.7/10. Since then, he has done a number of comic book and superhero films, including 300 (2006) and Watchmen (2009), as well as the Superman film that started the DC Extended Universe, Man of Steel (2013) and its follow-ups, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017). He also co-wrote the screenplays for 300, Sucker Punch, and 300: Rise of an Empire.
Many critics praised Snyder’s visual direction, but also criticized him for sub-par storytelling and excessive iconography. The movie “300” in 2007 was acclaimed to be visually strong but only garnered 60% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. Watchmen (2010) was at 64%, Sucker Punch (2011) 23%, Man of Steel (2013) 55%, and finally Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 was 27% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2012 Snyder was handed the reins of the new DC Cinematic Universe to control the direction of Superman and the heroes from DC Comics to compete with the Marvel Studio movie making machine under the direction of Kevin Feige. In 2012 Joss Whedon directed Marvel’s first billion dollar movie and Warner Bros. wanted a piece of the money pie. In “Man of Steel” Snyder made a movie which was visually astounding. The early shots of Krypton were extraordinary and the special effects were well done but the overall tone of who Superman is in the eyes of the critics and viewers was changed. They could not understand how the Man Of Steel could kill or cause the city-wide destruction of Metropolis and Smallville.
This Superman was different from the Richard Donner directed film of 1978 where you knew Superman would save the day somehow and maintain the awe of being Superman. The Snyder version of Superman was in-experienced and just learning his place in society. Mixed reaction of the film did not stop the heads of Warner Bros. from giving the go-ahead to make another movie with hopes that Snyder could improve on his 668 million dollars take in the world market and the critical response of movie reviewers.
Instead of making a sequel of Man Of Steel, Snyder sold the studio on a film that would include the big three of DC Comics Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. He cast Ben Affleck as Batman because the Snyder wanted an older experienced Dark Knight to take on Superman because Batman saw him as a threat to the world, not its savior and he was witness to the power of Kryptonians with the fight between Superman and Zod over Metropolis. The Wonder Woman role was given to Gal Gadot-Varsano an Israeli actress and model. This was a surprise for most people who expected someone more widely known.
The main criticism of the movie called “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was not the acting as much as it was the fact that there was too much crammed into the two and one-half hours running time. It was confusing to many what was going on in the story and better explained in the extended version released in Blu-ray later with an extra 30 minutes of film. Some people remarked they should have produced 2 movies to tell the full story. Even though the movie made 873 million it did not break the billion-dollar mark that was expected and with 27% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes that did not garner the critical acclaim the studio was hoping for.
Another negative comment about Batman v Superman was that it was so gloomy and dark and that Batman and Superman were out of character. Batman was dishing out extreme force and Superman was indecisive in his actions and lost his place on earth. The film itself was dark and the colors drab highlighting a story that was very serious with very little humor.
Many people began doubting Zack Snyder’s ability to create the DC cinematic universe. Even so, he was allowed to proceed on the already planned filming of the first Justice League movie which was to be released in 2017. The first thing the studio and Zake Snyder did was make the filming location available to the critics that tore Snyder’s BvS apart. It was their attempt to show the lighter tone of Justice League and the change in the attitude of the heroes in the movie. A trailer of some sorts was thrown together to show some levity which was lacking in Batman v Superman.
In May 2016, Geoff Johns (Comics) and Jon Berg (Movies) were named to jointly run the DC Extended Universe and a newly established Warner Bros. division, DC Films. The first thing Johns did was end the confusion of what the movie would be called as simply Justice League. It was to be made as a complete movie within itself. There was talk about a Justice League 2 movie filming with the completion of the first movie but that was not to be under the new leadership.
Many wondered what the future of directing for Snyder would be after the completion of Justice League. Then Snyder stepped down in post-production of the movie because of the personal tragedy involving his daughter’s death. Enter Joss Whedon who defected from Marvel Studios. Whedon has some extensive reshoots of the film that the studio says was planned but it is still for all intents and purposes a Snyder directed movie. Now many directors are being chosen for future DC movies but no one is mentioning the name Zack Snyder as possible filmmaker or director.
This is the END of the Snyder-Verse and his remaking of the DC cinematic universe. There is even a wildcard movie planned for DC Films called Flashpoint, the film involving the Flash going back in time. They could use this film to change everything in the history of the heroes lives you know so far. I know it is a little much to grasp but such is the comic hero world of the DCCU. I hope this has shed some light on the reasons for changes at DC Films and what they are doing to be competitive with Marvel. Whatever happens, we will be there and report things as we see them for the comic fan in all of us. Stay tuned for more. 🙂 Walt