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Sunday, March 09, 2014 

Warner Brothers' big risk with Batman vs. Superman

Director Zack Snyder spoke with the LA Times (via The Motley Fool) about the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie:
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.
I think this misses the exact picture by half. It's not that fans allegedly don't know the material - most of those complainers are people who believe no liberties or deviations good or bad should be taken from the source material, and they are an embarrassment. It's that the whole project sounds too much like something aimed at a smaller audience, a cheap fanfiction and a springboard for a Justice League movie, suggesting they don't have confidence to sell them on their own.

Ironically, Snyder's right in a sense: those kooks complaining the movie's casting choices don't meet their standards (but will surely see it anyway) are just the kind of people not raising a whisper of complaint about how Dan DiDio desecrated other people's childhoods. But I wouldn't say Snyder and company understand the material either, if their idea of a superhero movie is to craft a vehicle emphasizing two iconic heroes clashing with each other.
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!
To pit Supes and Bats against each other? It might've been fun once, but now, it's insulting. If the whole point is to show the World's Finest at each other's throats, and less of a team up to defeat a supervillain, then they're not being very fun at all. If they have a villain who'll serve as a true adversary to all heroes in the film, I have yet to see the announcement. To date, all info's been superficial and doesn't tell if Bats and Supes will combat a supervillain, one of the biggest problems with the advertising so far. Hence, the audience is under the impression it's all about two heroes locked in combat with one another.

If the filmmakers do let know there'll be a supervillain in the movie serving as the real challenge, that could turn things around and have people looking forward more. But so far, all the signs point to an insular tale derived from ideas that once might've worked in the pamphlet pages (and no longer does), but comes across too cheap for a megabudgeted movie. So it's a risk for WB alright.

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The whole "hero vs. hero" premise may be too esoteric to attract a big enough audience for a movie. It's really only of interest to the kind of geeky fanboys who argue about whether Thor could beat the Hulk, or whatever. And even a lot of comic book fans may be tired of it, because it's been done to death. Spider-Man and Captain America (Daredevil and Moon Knight, Avengers and X-Men, etc., etc.) spend half the story fighting, then realize they've been duped, then team up and fight the real villain. It's as much a cliche as the cavalry coming to the rescue in a Western, or the car chase in a detective movie.

The reason WB is using it as a springboard is because they fear stuff won't sell unless it has Superman or Batman attached to it. It's DC's own fault that they've largely neglected the rest of the Justice League, but right now, Supes and Bats are hot -- especially since the Man of Steel had his 75th birthday last year, and this year it's the Dark Knight's. So naturally, the biggest focus will be on those two characters. DC really needs to take risks -- look at Iron Man. There was no guarantee a former B-lister like Stark would be able to carry a movie, but now Marvel is throwing all kinds of things out there -- if not for the success of the Avengers character movies, they probably wouldn't have the cojones to do Guardians of the Galaxy.

What I'm saying is that I want a Flash movie.

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