Batman v. Superman director Zack Snyder gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal about the film, which opens this week. Snyder addressed criticism of his previous film, Man of Steel, saying he was taken by surprise by the fact that people didn't like his murderous take on the hero:
I was surprised with the fervency of the defense of the concept of Superman. I feel like they were taking it personally that I was trying to grow up their character.
Last week, we learned that Snyder is making a movie based on Ayn Rand's book The Fountainhead, and Snyder's outting as an Objectivist has opened a new perspective on his Superman take. Snyder elaborates on his Randian themes in the interview:
The kid grew up in Kansas, raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent, pretty solid salt of the earth people. Superman is the dream of a farmer from Kansas. Righting wrongs for a ghost. It's sort of the Kansas morality, that black and white, unrealistic morality of fighting crime.
There's a fun conversation — we filmed it, it's not in the cut — but there's a conversation when [Superman] saves the girl from the garment factory, we had a line where a guy goes, but now all the garment factory owners, they're not concerned with safety because they just figure Superman will show up to save them if the building catches on fire. It's sort of a catch-22 to being the ex machina, being the hand of God: the hand of God can't be everywhere the same time. You're headed for a fall.
But perhaps the most telling revelation about Snyder's understanding of Superman comes from the following quote:
Once you've absorbed that material, there's no way it doesn't resonate with you, especially when you're dealing with characters like Batman and Superman and Wonder Woman, who are basically the trinity. In some ways, this will be, I hope at it's really best, the impossible version of 'Watchmen'.
Of course, Watchmen (the comic) was a deliberate deconstruction of the superhero genre, whereas Superman is, in many ways, the epitome of that genre. These are supposed to be different movies. If Snyder thinks they're one and the same, he probably doesn't understand either one.
Batman v. Superman is in theaters this Friday, but critical reviews are already hitting the web. The movie has a 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with some of the negative reviews reading:
A near-total drag, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice plays like a loose, unofficial quarter-billion-dollar remake of The Odd Couple, in which Oscar and Felix are literally trying to kill each other.
A movie that has brazenly refused to learn from its own past, and yet insultingly, boldly pretends to have grown and matured all the same.
Even some of the positive reviews feature less than stellar summaries:
Ponderous, but the tone and the cast hold our interest.
The movie's not bad but it doubles down on its least-interesting and potent elements at the expense of those that actually work.
[T]he follow-up to The Dark Knight that many viewers and fans wanted or hoped for... [V]isually stunning, with powerful emotional storytelling and awe-inspiring action spectacle.
You'll have a chance to see it yourself on Friday. Do yourself a favor and do anything else instead.