When you ask Zack Snyder about gratuitous, city-leveling violence in superhero films, he points the finger at a blockbuster he didn't make.
The Man of Steel director participated in a live fan event over the weekend both to promote the Man of Steel Blu-ray release and to look ahead to his (still officially untitled) Batman vs. Superman flick, and unsurprisingly the film's destruction-laden climax was once again discussed. Many viewers, including die-hard Superman fans, were put off and even flat-out offended by the sheer scope of the carnage in Metropolis as Superman and Zod squared off. The criticism was only deepened by fans who felt that Superman acted very un-super by not taking more time to help innocent bystanders struggling to escape the falling buildings and swirling debris. All that, plus a kiss between Superman and Lois Lane in the midst of the Metropolis rubble shortly after the battle ended (and that very controversial offing of Zod), was enough to lead more than a few fans (and some comics professionals) to label Snyder's film gratuitous and insensitive.
Snyder's addressed the criticism before, claiming the implied massive casualties of the Metropolis sequence were meant to give the film a "mythological" feel, and to give American audiences a sense of the power of the myths of ancient Greece, which were used to "answer unanswerable questions about death and violence." When the topic came up at the fan event, though, he took a different path, first offering his own estimate of the Metropolis body count, and then claiming that another superhero hit -- Joss Whedon's The Avengers -- was less sensitive about its city-destroying violence than Man of Steel.
“Probably 5,000 people [(died from the Metropolis attack]. For me, that was part of it. No, there’s real consequences … Not to compare, but if you look at ‘The Avengers,’ they trash the city and nobody thinks about how many people are dying.” Snyder said. "There’s a sadness at the end of the movie ['Man of Steel']. That’s a thing that weighs on Superman.”
The Man of Steel versus The Avengers debate over which film did a citywide carnage-fest better has been going on ever since Man of Steel's release, and quite a few viewers have indeed come down on Man of Steel's side, but a careful re-watch of The Avengers seems to show that, while there's no shortage of Tony Stark quips and Loki-bashing fun in its climactic sequence, there are also plenty of moments where the heroes take time out to help innocent people. We see Captain America taking a Chitauri bomb blast in an effort to free some hostages. We see Hawkeye rescuing a group of people trapped in a bus. We see Cap issuing orders to the NYPD and to Iron Man to move civilians away from the area while establishing a perimeter to keep the fighting from spreading to other parts of the city. There's a definite effort to make it look like the Avengers care about people, and while Man of Steel certainly does deliver us at least a few moments of Superman angst, it looks like Whedon's film wins the sensitivity battle if we're talking in terms of pure screentime.
Regardless of the criticism, though, Snyder still made a box-office hit that's allowed him to push ahead with a sequel and broaden his version of the DC Comics big-screen universe, whether we like it or not. What do you think? Will Batman vs. Superman offer a different take on violence, or does it sound like Snyder's sticking to his guns?
(Via Latino Review)