With 300: Rise of an Empire set to hit theaters, its writer/producer Zack Snyder is hitting the promotional trail. And as these things usually go, people are asking him about his NEXT project, Batman vs. Superman.
The Los Angeles Times’ Hero Complex blog spoke to Snyder and asked him specifically about fan reaction to his casting choices in that film. Snyder, never a man to shy away from sharing his opinions, met the challenge head on:
HC: How surprised are you by all the outcry over some of your casting choices? From Gal Gadot to Ben playing Batman? Jesse as Lex Luthor?
ZS: There are two ways to think about it. We know the material. Unfortunately, the fans don’t know the material. So, we’re casting according to what’s happening in the script. And we’re hoping that leads to enough originality, enough perspective on what we’re doing that you get something fresh and exciting. I understand the canon. I’m not crazy. I know what these characters need from a mythological standpoint. I think Jesse is going to be an amazing Lex. Let’s not forget he was nominated for an Academy Award. It’s not like I just grabbed my friend to play the guy! This guy’s the real deal. By the way, in looking at all the talk-back, you can get all different perspectives in there too. Some people are hating to hate. Some people — someone did some fan art. And you look underneath and someone wrote, “I guess I can see it.” Honestly, are you kidding me? Just stop it! It’s reassuring and frustrating at the same time.
HC: It seems like you’re not insulating yourself from fan dialogue about the project. You’re out there listening to what people have to say. But ultimately, you are trying to serve the material. So what you’re saying is, fans should take heart in that.
ZS: Not just that. [The movie] literally takes the “Man of Steel” and “Batman” universes and explodes them. You’re not as tied to the mythology. In “Man of Steel,” we had to create an origin story, a mythology, and there’s a lot of energy into that, which we love doing. Don’t get me wrong. But when you think about how fun it is too — now that you’ve got these characters — to now let ‘em loose. That’s fun!
If Snyder thought that this was going to put fan’s griping to rest, he’s sadly mistaken. And more than a little out of touch.
First, using “casting according to the material” is only works if people have unwavering faith in the material. There are people who blindly love everything that Snyder does, and for them this reasoning works. But there are people who hate Snyder’s body of work so much that if he came out with a film that was magically able to cure cancer, they’d still hate it. Then there’s the rest of us who think he is a director with peaks and valleys in his resume, and his name is not an automatic win-win situation. So, in this case, there is at best a “wait and see” feel about the material. And, if anything, the casting cast more aspersions on the material than it does ease fears.
And for a self professed fan, he should know how the fandom works. He should know how hypercritical comic book fans are whenever the things they love are adapted to the big screen, and he should know that not even he gets a “get out of trolling free” card.
Of course, he confirms the fan’s fears right in the interview. While he makes a point of letting us know he does “understand the canon,” in the very next answer he states that the franchise is “not as tied to mythology.” Even being generous and giving Snyder the benefit of the doubt, that what he’s really saying is that he’s creating something new and different that stays true to the cannon, he is still creating something new and different. Comic fans have a low threshold for “new” and “different.” They want the character’s they grew up with translated to the screen directly as the appear on the page, or a close to it as they can. And, once again, the comic fandom has less faith in his abilities than he himself does, so they have less faith that the changes he makes will be an improvement. This is going to cause more problems than it solves.
I’ll just add this to the long list of things that is causing be to doubt Batman vs. Superman.