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SYFY WIRE Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder on his 'dirty and gritty' vision for a Dark Knight Returns movie with a 'crusty, old Batman'

By Josh Weiss
Zack Snyder The Dark Knight Returns

It's no secret that Zack Snyder was heavily inspired by The Dark Knight Returns while making Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Frank Miller's iconic graphic novel led to such plot elements as a more jaded Bruce Wayne and his mech-suit created for battling the Man of Steel. While Snyder has borrowed a lot from that comic already, he's not opposed to doing a more faithful adaptation of the 1986 source material.

“I am still obsessed with that comic book," the filmmaker said during a recent Nerd Queens livestream Tuesday. "I always had this fantasy, that I go, ‘Ok, maybe in a couple years down the road I just one-off — I just do Dark Knight Returns with some crusty, old Batman.’"

That still remains a "dream" project for Snyder, who described his vision as "dirty and gritty." He continued: “It’s just a great [story]. I’ve ripped it off so much, that I’ve almost done it, but I do feel like I’ve only homaged it. I haven’t really taken the heart of it … People haven’t really experienced it as a movie, that story. It still can be made."

One of the things that really fascinates the director about the Dark Knight as a character is the psychology of dressing up like a bat and fighting crime. "Frankly, the choice of being Batman is a weird choice," Snyder said. "So anything that examines the why of Batman, I’m into because I think it’s so iconic, but when you actually break it down, it becomes a thing to think about."

During production on Dawn of Justice, he laid out the following explanation for actor Ben Affleck:  "I said, ‘Ben, you’re not the classic monk warrior Batman. You’re more broken than that in the sense that you drink too much, you take painkillers, you f*** to forget' ... It would be amazing if he found a relationship, but I don’t know if that’s in the cards for him. I really don’t. Maybe like Catwoman or something, I don’t know."

Put that way, Batman isn't any more sane than the criminals he beats up and puts away. The only difference is that he chooses to be on the right side of the law. But can you really blame him? "Pretty much everyone he’s ever loved has been murdered by a criminal," Snyder said, later adding: "He’s always gonna sign up for another tour. He’s [always] gonna go back" to fighting for justice in Gotham.

Could the brooding hero ever retire? Sure. Snyder really liked the suggestion of Carl Gugino (whom he worked with on Sucker Punch and Watchmen) playing a version of Selina Kyle/Catwoman and came up with a quick scenario in which his take on Batman would end up with her.

"You would have to say, ‘Ok, there’s a flashback to 10 years ago where they were a thing and then he had to arrest her, or I don’t know what happened. But he had to let her go and that tweaked him.' And who knows what she’s doing now? She’s stealing antiquities or something and he needs to retire and they could find each other. I do think Carla is a good [choice]," Snyder admitted.

Snyder's fabled cut of Justice League arrives on HBO Max sometime next year.