Directing the Batman
It was recently announced that Ben Affleck has departed from his role as director of the upcoming Batman film from Warner Bros. This comes as quite a shock because he has established himself qualified actor/director for his work on Argo, even winning an Academy Award for Best Director. Even more surprising is that upon his withdrawal an online petition emerged for Zack Snyder to take the reigns as director of the upcoming Batman movie. To those moving forward for this decision I have something to say. It's time for a change, because these movies can't continue in that direction the Snyder was moving them.
Credit: Warner Bros. Studios
A lot of times when I voice my criticisms of a DC film I get accused of being a raging Marvel fanboy who hates everything DC and wants to sabotage their movies and then others will somehow attach a comparison of a questionable Marvel Studios film. Nothing could be further from the truth, I genuinely enjoy DC Comics and these characters. Go to my house and see my bookshelves stacked to the limits with DC/Vertigo hardcovers that I have loved reading through the years and walls covered in original art. I follow creators and quality, rather than simply characters. And I do love superheros and I want them treated with the best care so I can enjoy them in whatever medium they are presented. However, I think it's time for Zack Snyder as a creator to move on from these characters.
A few years back, I was walking out of the theater after seeing a film by Zack Snyder called Sucker Punch. Let's just say that I was not particularly thrilled by the quality of this movie. I went to check my Facebook feed afterwards when I saw the announcement that Warner Bros. had recruited Zack Snyder to helm the upcoming Superman film. When the Superman film came out a few years later as Man of Steel it was met with about as many mixed reviews as you can get. Upon viewing the film, I didn’t hate it but I didn’t love it either.
A few years later came Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice also directed by Snyder. The reviews for this film weren't exactly mixed, the majority of them were on the negative side. When I was watching BvS I thought the casting of characters was perfect, but in terms of directing and storytelling it left much to be desired. The film started off fine but the story was derailed by a very unnecessary dream sequence and couldn’t back on the tracks after that. I liked Lex Luthor at first, but as the story progressed I could see him turning more and more into a pseudo-Joker and it simply didn't suit his character. The Wonder Woman fight scene was definitely the highlight of the movie but it was ultimately too little too late to redeem the film.
Batman v. Superman: In a Peanut Shell
I don't dislike these characters, I dislike bad representations of these characters. BvS in the end was not a good representation of these characters and we need a change. We generally have to accept the fact that the movies are going to be the most visible presence of these characters. And the main public representation, superhero movies need to be treated with the utmost care that doesn't compromise the integrity of their history. Because the wrong representation can really hurt the brand.
An example is another incarnation of Batman that appeared in the 1960s. As the story goes Hugh Hefner was throwing a party at the Playboy Mansion the week after Halloween. Hef has always a big comic book fan and had some Batman costumes leftover from the previous week’s party and decided to stage an improv with some actors in full garb. The actors went about their goofy improv act much to the amusement of Film Producer William Dozier. After witnessing this scene, Dozier traveled back to Hollywood and secured the television rights to Batman based the goofy performance. The result of this was the 1966 Batman TV show starring Adam West. This gave Batman a popularity never seen before, but it came with some side effects. The TV tarnished the reputation of the character within the comics, suddenly he was not longer the Dark Knight but a goofy cared crusader, a reputation that wouldn't be returned until years later when Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil brought Batman back to his roots.
The 1966 Batman show certainly helped the popularity of the Batman franchise in many ways, but it was still a double-edged sword because public perception of the character gained a dorky focus. When writing super heroes there is a delicate balance, because fans always want something new but complain when you break from tradition. And of course every incarnation of the character will be someone’s first exposure. For some it was the comics, for others it was the 1966 TV show, some cite the Tim Burton films. I am part of a very blessed generation where my first exposure to Batman was the 1992 animated series, which I think remains the best incarnation of Batman in history.
In summation, Batman is an amazing character who needs the best creators to ensure a healthy legacy. Simply put, Zack Snyder has been given several chances to make a mark on Batman and they simply didn't rise to the standard, and that is why he should not be the director of this upcoming film