Even though we seem to see stories about superhero franchise reboots and casting rumors every day, it still qualified as huge news when Zack Snyder was hired to direct the latest take on Superman for Warner Bros. The project is being produced by Christopher Nolan, and many speculated that Nolan would push for a director he could guide through the process, and help emulate his own voice that made Batman Begins and The Dark Knight so successful. Instead the studio hired a director who seems like the opposite of everything Nolan stands for-- style instead of substance, slick visuals instead of deep character motivations, movies that thrill you while they're happening but that you forget as soon as you walk away.
How are the director of 300 and Inception going to work together? How will Snyder breathe life into Superman, a character even diehard comic fans find boring? More importantly, is it even worth revisiting Superman at all, given that the last attempt at the character was 2006's Superman Returns, and no one cared about it then? To hash out these answers, and talk a little about Snyder's last superhero movie Watchmen, Eric Eisenberg and Katey Rich took to gchat and duked it out. For the record Eric is a comics fan with a longstanding aversion to Superman, while Katey couldn't care less about comics and watched Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman frequently in the mid-90s.
ERIC: As I said in my article, Snyder actually makes me really excited about the project
KATEY: It's…. something. I still don't see him meshing with Nolan
ERIC: I'm getting the sense that once Snyder takes over, Nolan will be hands off. They can't bring in a name like Snyder and expect him to fold under Nolan. Everyone involved should know better than that.
KATEY: It's true.
ERIC: I mean, Nolan will be there to support the story and offer some guidance.
KATEY: And maybe the two have hung out and developed this awesome idea.
ERIC: But this will be Snyder's film.
KATEY: I just don't like that Snyder is fundamentally slick and shallow. And that was actually a problem with Singer's Superman. Peoeple say it's mopey Superman, but it felt so very surface level to me.
ERIC: Right. But that's why I'm glad that it's Nolan/Goyer working on the script. They crafted the story for the deepest superhero movie of all time. Now give it to Snyder and add the flair. It's a perfect combo.
KATEY: So long as you trust that the script is that good. I just know Snyder had the script for the deepest superhero movie of all time with Watchmen, and he made it totally soulless.
ERIC: Correction: he had the source material for the deepest superhero movie of all time. The script had to be adapted for that.
KATEY: But the script was such a literal translation of the source material.
ERIC: But it would have been impossible to fit the depth of Watchmen into 2:30.
KATEY: It was all there in theory, and Snyder couldn't execute it in the film.
ERIC: Have you read Watchmen?
KATEY: Yeah. The book took itself way too seriously and pulled it off. The movie took itself way too seriously and looked absurd. I mean, parts of it work, but Snyder doesn't successfully recreate the paranoid sense of the movie, or the sense of these characters as actual flawed humans.They get tossed into that Snyder sheen-ification that still emphasizes how pretty and talented they are. And it's SO easy to do that with Superman.
ERIC: I actually liked Snyder's Watchmen, but I do understand what you mean.
KATEY: I liked a lot of things about it. But I do think it had a fundamental shallowness that doomed it.
KATEY: OK, so in terms of percentages, how much of this do you think will be Snyder's movie? Because right now I'm thinking 40% Nolan 60% Snyder, but you seem to think otherwise.
ERIC: I'll give him the benefit of 80%. Nolan is not dumb. He got Snyder for a reason. He sees something there that will work with his story. What about you?
KATEY: I agree that Nolan got Snyder for a reason, and it is kind of exciting to imagine their visual styles meshing somehow. But I also feel like we need to count on Nolan to tamp down Snyder's impulse to make everything surface-level.
ERIC: In a perfect world, it would be 50/50.
KATEY: And I worry that in the end, we're still going to be stuck with a Superman who looks awesome and does awesome things, but doesn't have any real feelings.