Look at that logo. I mean, look at it. It looks like absolute child’s play, does it not? What with the jagged, awkward angles over smooth, well-rounded curves. It looks like it was constructed by some intern over at Warner … slapped together over smoothies in some juice bar on Rodeo. I mean, make no mistake – last weekend’s announcement was a blockbuster, to be sure … an intricately detonated smash-and-grab meant to maximize cheap buzz. Warner Brothers ran the table, absolutely captivating the audience, dispensing with competing interests, and overshadowing a veritable who’s who of A-list appearances, almost all of which occurred inside a venue called Hall H – the Valhalla of public gathering spaces, so far as DC Universe is concerned.
The moon was new and full inside, all the planets were aligned. For there were hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. And the iron, as they say, was white-fucking primed.
And so out came Zack Snyder … the very same Zack Snyder who directed DC’s Watchmen completely into mass oblivion; the very same Zack Snyder who was subsequently rewarded with the keys to Man of Steel, the first installment of which cost a whopping $225 million, a small portion of which was spent hiring one of the biggest A-list ensembles in motion picture history. This is the very same Zack Snyder who came on board as part of a package deal shortly after his wife, Deborah, was announced as one of Man of Steel‘s producers; the very same Zack Snyder who took all that money and iconography and A-list credibility and served up what will no doubt be remembered as one of the most lukewarm origin stories ever created.
And so out came that Snyder, acknowledging every die-hard fan only minutes before flashing that weak logo on the screen. And you know what? It was entirely emblematic of what mainstream moviegoers probably have to look forward to throughout the 24-month span leading up to Snyder’s sequel.
Consider the logistics. I mean, how on earth does anyone construct a critically-acclaimed motion picture out of this, especially given the Dark Knight franchise just recently took its final bow? We’re talking about the greatest superhero trilogy of all-time here; one of the most beloved movie franchises in the history of cinema. In terms of re-incorporating Batman, David Goyer and Zack Snyder only have one of three dubious alternatives:
- They can pick up where The Dark Knight Rises left off, albeit with a new Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale has already announced he will not play Batman again), establishing a storyline wherein the aging Wayne returns once more, only this time in his 50s
- They can pick up where The Dark Knight Rises left off, allowing Joseph Gordon-Levitt to step in as the new Batman (This despite the fact Levitt was actually cast in the original as Robin), or
- They can simply pretend the entire Dark Knight Trilogy never existed – wipe away the greatest comic-book franchise of all-time and start over again from scratch.
Those are your three options: Geriatric Batman, not-really-Batman Batman, or the-Dark-Knight-never-existed Batman. None of them offers a great deal of promise.
Next up you have the setting. Are they in Metropolis or are they in Gotham? I mean, they’ve got to be in Metropolis, right? But then again, what the fuck would Bruce Wayne – or better yet, Batman – be doing in Metropolis? Maybe Gotham is Metropolis. Maybe Metropolis is Gotham. Maybe the two can meet up at a bus station somewhere in northern Pittsburgh.
And what – at this point – should we assume about the entire Man of Steel franchise? In a sense what studio executives are saying here is, “Fuck Superman. We need to focus all of our energies on putting this whole Justice League together.” Given the way Zack Snyder’s Batman-Superman announcement was presented, one has to assume that there’s going to be some major confrontation between the two (Batman and Superman); some convoluted plotline, perhaps, wherein the two of them keep crossing streams until the whole damn mechanism goes kablooey.
On an equal playing field, Superman kicks the living shit out of Batman. We know this. Which is precisely why Batman’ll more than likely need to put his hands on some kryptonite, rendering the entire masquerade both utterly cliched and moot. And yet, the overwhelming majority of us will inexplicably eat that shit right up, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. Movies are no longer about making great movies, after all. Movies are all about making great money. And making great money, when you get right down to it, is all about manipulation, plain and simple.
And so out came Zack Snyder, flooring the comic book universe with the news that he plans to combine the two greatest superheroes of all-time – two legends of the form who, quite literally, could not appear to be more like night and day. On the one hand you’ve got Batman, who did not rear his cowl during the daylight hours until the final climactic sequence of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. On the other you’ve got Zack Snyder’s Superman, who almost never appeared from dusk till dawn after the moment he first donned the cape.
How exactly do you split the difference there?
The answer, unfortunately, is that no one really cares, at least not anyone who maintains a worthwhile stake in ensuring Snyder’s motion picture succeeds. The suspension of disbelief means absolutely nothing in today’s big-budget studio system. Suspension of disbelief is an afterthought, quite frankly, absurd to the extent that the very same executives might just as soon suggest a showdown between Tony Soprano and Michael Corleone, assuming that it tested well with audiences.
In terms of what that means for this most recent development, what it all boils down to is this: Zack Snyder does not make good movies. I mean, fuck all if I could tell you what was going on throughout the final 40 minutes of his Man of Steel. Superman just kept on bouncing and punching and springing and leaping like some big ole’ shiny flea. Meanwhile, there were sparks flying and buildings crashing and at some point, somewhere, Superman actually crash-landed into the main concourse at Grand Central. Other than that, it’s all one massive blur.
And you better believe this next installment’ll represent a whole lot more of the same. Oh, sure, the build-up’ll be chock-full of on-set tweets and crazy spoilers, and the billboard posters alone’ll be enough to knock your socks off. And before the Summer of 2015 is finally said and done, Snyder’s sequel will have surpassed its way into the top 10 highest-grossing motion pictures of all-time. Entertainment Weekly may even hail Snyder a genius, erroneously reporting that he reinvented the whole genre. And yet, in the end – you mark my words – this entire Batman-Superman fiasco will be fair-to-middling at best. And the fact that it can simultaneously be considered just about all of these things will only reinforce the proven notion that making movies is no longer about making movies. Making movies is about making obscene boatloads of money. And if you need to know what making obscene boatloads of money is really all about, look no further than what occurred in Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center last weekend. It was a master class in Finance moderated by Warner’s Dean of Suckonomics.
And so out came Zack Snyder …