When all is said and done with the comic book movie craze, one thing will be for certain… Zack Snyder will be looked back upon as one of (if not) the greatest comic book movie director of all time.
Whether it be 300, WATCHMEN or BATMAN V SUPERMAN; Snyder has produced works of art. His way of using film as a language, and understanding how to paint with said medium, sets him notches above the rest. There’s always a feeling of great respect and understanding of the source material, which we know can tend to be overlooked (or greatly underrepresented) for jokes— forced jokes at that.
Depth, metaphorical imagery and great storytelling is what Snyder is known for.
So the question is, “Where did Zack Snyder go wrong?”
I’ve recently seen the argument thrown out that Snyder overestimated the intelligence of his audience; their desire to want more than one liners; their iron grip on nostalgia. Does that hold any water? Sure, a little bit, but I don’t think much more than what is expected of any audience who watches a movie that’s not in their normal niche. The evidence for that is the (highly debated) success of Snyder’s movies. 300 brought in $456,068,181 at the worldwide box office, MAN OF STEEL amounted $668,045,518 and BATMAN V SUPERMAN finished with $873,634,919.
When it comes to forging a blockbuster out of blood, sweat and tears, Snyder clearly knows what he’s doing.
Now compare that to Geoff Johns and Joss Whedon‘s attempts to tickle the nostalgia bone and pull on the one-liner strings with the Frankenstein that was JUSTICE LEAGUE. The movie was received as good at best, and a blatant corruption of what Snyder was attempting for (before he had to back away). We saw a push against the “Marvel way”, as JUSTICE LEAGUE bombed at box office.
So again, where did Snyder go wrong?
One could argue that Warner Bros. wanted to see Marvel level money coming out of their extended universe. As seen in the rumors that they were looking to fire Snyder after BATMAN V SUPERMAN’s “poor performance” at the box office. Despite the fact that the DCEU was outpacing the MCU as it had accumulated $3.1B under five movies whereas the MCU only brought in $1.206B.
It would seem from the rumor and the fact that the DCEU was doing more than fine under Snyder’s helm that the executives (at Warner Bros.) had expectations of BATMAN V SUPERMAN reeling in a billion dollars. That expectation was felt across the board with fans, but in reality and especially hindsight, it was an unreachable expectation. There’s no question that the general audience is getting a bit fatigued of the genre, and it takes something that breathes a fresh breath of air into it to reinvigorate them. Snyder’s films were a step in that direction.
At the end of the day, the childlike impatience and unreal expectations posed on Snyder seem (to me) to be what blindsided him.