Everyone's waited with bated breath to see what DC will be unveiling about the future of the film franchise at Comic Con this week. While we're eagerly hoping for news about Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or perhaps the announcement of a Shazam movie led by The Rock, DC Entertainment co-publisher Jim Lee is throwing some serious shade on literal comic book interpretations.
In an interview with Variety, Jim Lee laid down how he thinks film and comics function differently to tell a story, suggesting that direct translation from the comic's page to the movie's frames is dumb. He says:
"I know a lot of filmmakers will look at the source material and what we capture on paper and translate that entirely onto film, but it shouldn’t be a literal translation of the comicbooks themselves. We work in a medium that has no end. A film should have a beginning, middle and end and resolution until the next one comes out. We’re telling a story every single month. They’re different sensibilities."
On one level, what he's saying makes sense. Comic books and film are distinctive storytelling mediums in their own right. While comic book fans expect a single comic to tell part of a long-running story, movie fans expect a movie to succinctly tell a single plot--even if the movie is part of a series. Still, it's unexpected that a DC exec would say this when so much of the future of the DC film franchise is in the hands of Zack Snyder. I mean, has Lee seen Watchmen?
Though the movie adaptation of Watchmen offered some major changes to the final act (for better or worse), a huge part of Snyder's push for the film was that he was so loyal to the comic's framing and iconography. You can see a clear comparison of the two in the video below:
While I like Watchmen (I know, an unpopular opinion), it's shocking to hear a DC exec talk about breaking from comics when Snyder made his major mark in DC comic movies by largely playing so close to the page. Of course since then, Snyder made Man of Steel, which contained a major finale plot point that definitely broke from the comic's most expected elements of the character.
Despite outcry from some Superman fans, Man of Steel went on to make more than $668 million worldwide. A sequel was a given. But instead of Man of Steel 2, DC is bringing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, downgrading the first film's hero to second headliner status and bringing in at least two other Justice League members to help amp up excitement.
Regardless, Jim Lee trusts in Zack Snyder. Asked what advice he'd give the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice helmer, he said:
"Zack is a comicbook fan and draws inspiration from the comics. He doesn’t need to be given advice. He’s a talented filmmaker. He’s a super stylized visualist. He’ll do stuff no one has ever done with the caped crusader and blow everyone away. He knows how to take the sensibility of comicbooks and do what other filmmakers don’t know how to do"
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice will open May 6th, 2016.