Does Zack Snyder Think We’re Stupid? A Look at the ‘Dawn of Justice’ Trailer
A couple of years ago the teaser trailer for Man of Steel hit the internet and I wrote a feature about why it didn’t look very good. People were unhappy with this assessment, insisting that it was, in fact, going to be a good movie and that I shouldn’t judge it until I see it.
Let’s put aside the obvious – namely that they hadn’t seen the movie either and I was judging the trailer, not the movie – so I can say this: I WAS RIGHT.
Man of Steel was, at best, mediocre. It was mishandled, needlessly moody, confused and…well, the action was amazing, but it was pretty forgettable in this era of non-stop big screen superhero shenanigans. It did make enough dosh for the studio to green light the sequel – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – and a bajillion spin offs. The teaser trailer rolled out this past week, and there’s only one thing I’ve taken away from it:
Does Zack Snyder think we’re idiots?
Now, I don’t hate this trailer. It’s OK. I think Batman looks pretty cool (why’s he holding that rifle though? Are they turning him into a murderer as well?) and I’m in support of Ben Affleck in the role. Yes, I know…he was in Daredevil and that movie wasn’t very good. But rather than blaming a single actor for that I’d rather point the finger at the director, writers and producers who controlled the look, tone and style of the film – and they let that director get his useless mitts on Ghostrider. Affleck looks pretty rad in this.
My problem is directed at the overt symbolism used in the movie. Symbolism plays an important role in cinema. By filling the screen with familiar images, costumes, sets and colours the picture really does say a thousand words. Without any contextual information we know Darth Vader is a bad guy the moment he walks into the room because of the symbolism used in his construction.All directors know this, and use it to communicate with the viewer without spelling everything out for them, or using a cheap voice over.
Zack Snyder, on the other hand, feels that he has to spell everything out for us. He has to make everything so simple and obvious for us He must think that we’re a bunch of dribbling morons.
Snyder wants us to see Superman as something of a messiah figure. Did you pick up on this in Man of Steel?
Sorry, is that to subtle for you? Need something more obvious?
Boom. Space Jesus. Superman throws this pose when his father literally sends him down from the heavens to save the human race and become a symbol of hope. This is pretty in your face, but not uncommon in cinema. Neo pulled the same thing in the last Matrix movie.
Remarkably this was more subtle.
So what does Dawn of Justice do that gets my ire up? I’ll break it down for you.
This is the first image from the trailer:
Continuing the messiah motif from the first film we have a great big statue of Superman, shrouded in shadow and darkness to show that this hero worship may not be a good thing. We get all that from the image, but just to reinforce the notion the voice-over intones “We, as a population on this planet, have been looking for a saviour”. Ok, cool. Space Jesus. Not a good thing. Gotcha.
Oh, you don’t that was obvious enough? Big statue and a helpful narrator not enough? Go ahead then…
People bowing to him. Straight forward enough. People worship him. Why not throw a light from the heavens bathing Superman in a golden glow to hammer the point home. We’ve all got the message, now let’s bring in Batman! Honestly, if you tried to force the message any more it’s going to look really stupi…
Are you fucking kidding? Do you really think we wouldn’t get it by now? You’ve shown a giant statue of Superman, recorded a voice over that explains that he’s a false God, had people bowing to him, cast him in a holy light and you’re following it up with a shot of Superman hovering God-like in the clouds with a FREAK’N HALO around his head while one of the common folk reaches up to him.
Couldn’t you think of something more in our face? How about Superman ordering Noah to build an arc? Imparting the 10 Commandments to Moses? You already think the audience is so stupid that we need THIS level of symbolism to understand your simple bloody premise. Actually, why start there? Why not write it in giant red letters across Superman’s chest?
Oh, fuck you. After all that nonsense do you really think you need this poorly rendered statue with ‘FALSE GOD’ written in huge, red letters on his chest before we can comprehend your simple, over done concept? Either Zack Snyder is stupid, or he thinks we’re stupid. Robocop didn’t force this level of symbolism down our throats and we managed to piece the reborn saviour motif together.
This is what puts me off this movie. I don’t like being spoken down to, and this trailer treated me like I needed the big print, chewable version of the story. Comic books have been casting Superman as the messiah for the modern age for decades without having to write giant, red letters on statues for us.
Have some faith in your viewers, Snyder. Film makers have been doing this for years, and produced better films with more subtlety. I like this thing you’re doing with the hyper-stylised action and altering speeds. Dawn of the Dead and 300 were damn good fun. But don’t think we’re idiots and you’ll do better work.
Now show us more Batman!
Also, explain why he has a rifle. Batman hates guns. Like how Superman doesn’t kill people.