I may be one of the few critics to write up a positive notice for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, but even my good experience was marred primarily by one problem: Superman. Or, more to the point, director Zack Snyder‘s take on Superman.
It was a continuation of the problematic Man Of Steel, which was weighed down by some tired, rote Daddy Issues (which became Self-Identity issues), reducing Superman from our most idealistic superhero to just another guy with your run-of-the-mill pop psychology hangups, and a mother whose greatest “encouragement” to her superson is that he doesn’t owe the world anything (real inspiring there, Martha). In short, I see Snyder’s spin as a failed – but sincere – attempt at trying to do something different with a 75-year-old character. But one Superman die-hard sees Snyder’s motivation as much worse, and consciously sinister.
In his article “Superman And The Damage Done: A Requiem For An American Icon” (caution: MAJOR Batman V Superman spoilers!), writer Devin Faraci reminisces in heartfelt detail the virtues of Superman – particularly as portrayed in previous movie and animated incarnations – and then laments how Zack Snyder is completely and utterly dismantling those virtues. To wit, Faraci writes:
- …children growing up over the past 40 years have found new Supermans they could look to as inspirational models of how heroes act. But what do the children of today have? Warner Bros, custodian of the Superman legacy, has handed the keys of the character over to Zack Snyder, a filmmaker who has shown he feels nothing but contempt for the character. In doing so they have opened the character to an ugly new interpretation, one that devalues the simple heroism of Superman and turns the decent, graceful character into a mean, nasty force of brutish strength.
Now while I find Snyder’s take on Superman to be simply bad and unoriginal, not malicious, Faraci drops an accusation that’s downright damning:
- I believe that Zack Snyder is systematically destroying Superman not because he doesn’t understand the character but because he profoundly dislikes the character.
Suffice it to say, the piece is interesting, thoughtful, and provocative. While I don’t agree with Faraci’s assumption of Snyder’s motive (I can’t seem to give Snyder that much credit), Faraci does articulate as well as anyone what Snyder gets wrong about a superhero who’s always embodied Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
To read the spoiler-filled essay, click here.