The Sequels Were Always a Bad Idea
“I had a dream. It was the end of the world.”Bruce Wayne, Justice League
“Not a great plan.”Tony Stark, The Avengers
One thing the Snyder faithful love to do is throw around one of the better quotes from Man of Steel: “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will stumble, they will fall. But in time they will join you in the sun.” This is used for anything from underlining what a great Superman Henry Cavill was/could have been, to the belief that in time Snyder’s superhero saga will be seen by all as the masterpieces they’ve chosen to believe they are. They do this, they quote a scene on the inspirational potential of Superman, to defend the necessity for two movies where Superman is the bad guy.
Since midway through Batman V Superman, Snyder was setting up “Knightmare,” a post-apocalyptic future in which Darkseid has enslaved Earth and Superman is helping him do it. This is apparently because Darkseid killed Lois Lane, and as a result, Superman was “infected by anti-life” and turns evil, and I hate this plan, I hate every part of this plan. I mean even putting aside the unflattering similarities to Infinity War and Endgame, there is so much wrong with the Knightmare plan. So allow me to explain, hopefully quickly, why I have overall enjoyed Snyder’s first three DC movies but never, ever want to see his intended next two.
It’s a terrible take on Superman. Superman doesn’t protect the world because he loves Lois. He protects the world because he believes in humanity. Implying that losing Lois is all it would take for him to lose all hope and decide “Sure, Anti-Life, I’m evil now” is not a good take on Superman, it’s not. If this is what you legitimately wanted, read Injustice and stop trying to sell the rest of us on Snyder’s “great Superman arc.”
It’s an even worse use of Lois Lane. Snyder fans loved to throw around the “Thirstiest reporter” joke as proof that Joss never respected Lois like Zack did, but in the end, Lois’ role in the saga is some Women in Refrigerators bullshit. “Superman is good because Lois is a good lay” is horribly disrespectful to both characters, and I never want to see “Superman is evil because Lois is dead” again, thanks, I want to see the badass investigator Lois Lane who did as much if not more than Batman to expose new alpha-menace Leviathan in the comics. I want a Lois and Superman who love each other, support each other, but do not define each other like in Superman and Lois.
We have enough “Evil Supermen.” A lot of good projects are doing better versions of “What if Superman were bad, though,” because they take some part of the classic origin and twist it to say “What if.” Homelander on The Boys is “What if Superman were raised in a lab by a shady corporation,” and the result is an amoral psychopath with the powers of a god, that’s rightfully scary and a cutting commentary on US self-image. Omni-Man on Invincible is Superman but with a darker agenda and a tenuous at best connection to humanity. Brightburn asked “What if he just grew up mean, and knew nobody could stop him?” The Boys and Invincible are both great, Homelander and Omni-Man are well-realised but still terrifying characters, Superman But Bad is being handled. I don’t understand the mindset of knowing Homelander and Omni-Man are out there but still needing to do “Superman but bad” with actual Superman.
Is he an icon of hope or not, Zack? I definitely don’t understand doing three movies where people talk about how inspiring Superman is/could be when your endgame is “Yeah but what if he were evil.” Those two things go together like cheese and diesel.
Diminishing returns. Someone tweeted at Nando of Nando V Movies, a channel about examining geek media, that a League vs Evil Superman fight would be epic, and he replied “Yeah, it would be crazy to watch Batman and the League fight Superman in a different location than the last two times.” Batman V’d Superman, the League fought a confused, irritable Superman, we’re good, we’ve seen it, time for something else, thanks. I know audiences love hero vs hero fights, there hasn’t been a single Marvel team-up that didn’t involve heroes fighting each other, but they didn’t just do Iron Man vs Thor every time.
It involves killing Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Aquaman and Wonder Woman each outgrossed any movie Zack Snyder has ever made. Not sure killing them off was the best idea.
There was maybe a way to make Knightmare work, if the whole thing was condensed in one movie. If we watched the League in action in present day, but occasionally cut to the Knightmare future where it all went wrong, as Batman, Flash, and Cyborg try to make sure this time it goes right. Don’t need a whole movie in the Knightmare future, don’t need a lot of Evil Superman, just use the Knightmare world to add some stakes to what’s happening in the present. Hm. Is it… is it X-Men: Days of Future Past? It might be. I might just want Days of Future Past. Well… it was top half as X-Men movies go. Still better than “Infinity War but way too serious.”
The best sequel tease from any iteration of this movie comes from the very end of the credits of the Theatrical Cut, as Lex Luthor and Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson meet on a yacht. Now, this is like 90-95% Snyder footage, but there’s a key exception. In the Theatrical Cut, Lex is just out to even the playing field against Superman’s new team. “To put it plainly,” he says, “Shouldn’t we have a league of our own?” That’s exciting. Lex and Deathstroke forming the Injustice League or Legion of Doom or whatever it’s called, I was thrilled at the idea of Lex recruiting villains from the next round of solo movies: Black Manta, Cheetah, Captain Cold, maybe Black Adam is playing both sides, that’s fun. In the Snyder Cut he doesn’t do that. He tells Deathstroke Batman’s secret identity. That’s less interesting.
And apparently, according to leaks, that’s what the Affleck Batman Vs Deathstroke movie would have been: Slade, blaming Batman for someone’s death, sets out to destroy everything Bruce Wayne values. His company, his allies, he even starts killing Bruce’s loved ones and hang on one second. That’s Arrow. That’s the second season of Arrow. Slade Wilson blamed Oliver Queen for the death of Shado, a woman they’d both loved, and sets out to steal his company, turns his allies against him, kill those Oliver loves. And it worked there because Oliver and Slade had an established relationship and they had 23 hours to spend on how it went wrong and Slade’s plan for revenge. But wait there’s more! This is also the second season of Titans! Slade blames Dick Grayson for the death of Slade’s son Jericho, so sets out to ensure that no group called the Titans can ever exist.
When did this become the go-to plot for Slade Wilson? And why would you have Slade do this plot with Batman, when “near-spiritual need to destroy Batman body, mind, and soul” is the quintessential Bane story? If anything, this leaks proves that Ben Affleck wasn’t lying when he said he couldn’t crack the script. It was a flawed pitch from day one, and as much as I love Ben Affleck as a director, writer, and Batman, I’m glad they didn’t make this. I don’t need a lesser version of Arrow’s best season.
Yes, I’m saying the Arrowverse is better than the Snyderverse, and that’s just the goddamn truth every day of the goddamn week. You want to disagree, go right ahead, I’ll just sit here watching Legends of Tomorrow and you’ll be wrong.
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