It so happened that 1993 was a big year for me. Comic book wise, anyway. See that was the year Bane broke Batman’s back. It was the year that Superman died. And in the Marvel universe, Carnage escapes Ravencroft and wrecks carnage on a maximum level. It was also the year that my mother grew …
Dear Zack Synder,
There were doubts when the first trailer for The Man of Steel debuted. You were the director of Watchmen, which I liked. But you were also the director of the zombie abomination remake, Dawn of the Dead. 300 was too homoerotic even for me (and I love me some good homoeroticism), and, from what I saw, it seemed like an ok movie. A lot of my friends seemed to love it, so maybe it was good. But you were also the director of Sucker Punch, which marked the first movie I walked out of since Corky Romano. But I wanted to believe. I hoped you would take a subject as sensitive as Superman and unleash something beautiful to the world. After all, DC/WB was losing a legacy with the closing of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Who would take up the mantle with Nolan’s departure? Who would bring forth a new era of DC comic superhero films that will remain in the nitty-gritty realism of the Nolanverse?
There were a few issues. I wouldn’t be a fan of comic books if there weren’t a few issues. Aside from the obvious father-killing tornado, the main issue was the overuse of power. I praised the use of Kal-El’s power on Earth. You showed the world that a Superman based in reality would be terrible for the world, especially if other Kryptonians survived. The battle in Metropolis left the entire city in a pile of rubble and destruction. And the finale showed us just how far Superman would go to save its people (you know, if you ignore the leveling of an entire city) by snapping Zod’s head. He didn’t want to; he had to. Otherwise, Zod would continue. He’d kill again and again, and no prison on this planet could hold him. And sending him back into the Phantom Zone was out of the question because the other survivors were sent back, and that idea only worked once.
Superman destroyed a city, killing and maiming thousands. That’s how we saw it. Even though the Kryptonians were at fault for most of the destruction, we only focused on the final battle as Zod and Kal-El threw each other into building after building, using their powers to level buildings; we focused on the mayhem. And what did you do when we called you out on altering our favorite boy scout? You sniveled. You whined. You shouted how you couldn’t understand how we still held onto the idea of a Christopher Reeve Superman when your Man of Steel was way better.
And as if a love letter to yourself and a testament to your awesomeness, you decided that you wanted to ruin more heroes by dragging them down to a Michael Bay level of destruction. You focused more on what these heroes and villains could destroy and only glossed over their humanity. With Ben Afflect’s Batman firing at will, killing bad guys, blowing shit up, and Superman’s inability to see past Lois Lane, doing whatever he can to prove himself a human while failing to do so time and time again, your ultimate stage match is falling on deaf ears. While superhero flicks are no strangers to violence, most still focus on the story. Most still focus on how the heroes are relatable. Most don’t level cities and hope the civilians below forget.
Two years after the events of The Man of Steel, the only person who remembers the battle of Metropolis is Bruce Wayne, but he’s too busy trying to infiltrate Lex Corps and crack the mystery of these so-called Metahumans. You were giving an opportunity to one up the folks at Marvel, and you lost sight of the goal. You figured that if Captain America and Iron Man were going to put up their dukes against each other, why not DC’s greatest gladiators?
You throw CGI sequence after CGI sequence to tell a story that falls flat. It falls flat because it’s a huge middle finger to your critics. Rather than listening, you continue to insist that you’re growing Superman’s character and reintroducing the world to a Dark Knight no one recognizes while you jam a clusterfuck of information and prophecies that get lost in translation. It’s like you took a cue from the folks who ruined The Amazing Spider-Man movies by building something much larger than we can imagine and fail to deliver. The only problem being, of course, is that you’re set to deliver. Warner Bros. is up against Marvel, and they’re not going to back down. My only fear is that you’ll remain attached as director and set fire on the DC universe one character at a time. At least Joss Whedon knew when to call it quits.