Think Batman and Superman shouldn’t kill? Well, Zack Snyder wants you to “Wake the f–k up”

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Reinvention is a staple of comic books, but with both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, director Zack Snyder gave us versions of DC Comics’ two biggest heroes that we had never seen on screen before. Hell, for many modern fans, they hadn’t even seen it on the comic book page before either.

I am of course referring to Superman snapping Zod’s neck at the end of Man of Steel and Batman just straight up mass-killing criminals in BvS. In the former case, you could still possibly make a case for it, as it was a last-ditch desperation move from Henry Cavill’s Superman as Zod wasn’t going to stop his attack unless he was put down. With Batman’s actions though, things get far less defensible. I mean, he like, drove his Batmobile through a guy and shot some others in a truck to hell and back without even trying anything else! This understandably upset many fans of the Dark Knight, who, like Superman, has employed a strict “no killing” policy in the comics for almost as long as he’s been around.


I say “almost”, because when Batman first debuted in the pages of Detective Comics back in 1939, he was a very different character. He even carried and used a gun, which would eventually become one of his biggest no-no’s. In Frank Miller’s brilliant The Dark Knight Returns, he also uses a rifle (though it’s just to fire a grappling hook) and does some very violent things to people. The difference here though is that TDKR is an Elseworlds tale, not set in the official continuity, and those early gun-toting days made up a tiny percentage of the Dark Knight lifetime. They’re so far removed from traditional mainstream Batman that they’re practically other characters.

Snyder, who has quoted TDKR as being a touchstone for his version of Batman, doesn’t care though. In fact, this weekend past he held nothing back during a Q&A for his dystopian superhero pic Watchmen (via CBR), as he lashed out against those who criticised his DC Comics character decisions.

Someone says to me, ‘Batman killed a guy.’ I’m like, ‘Fuck, really? Wake the fuck up.’ I guess that’s what I’m saying. Once you’ve lost your virginity to this fucking movie and then you come and say to me something about like, ‘My superhero wouldn’t do that.’ I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’ I’m like down the fucking road on that.

It’s a cool point of view to be like, ‘My heroes are still innocent. My heroes didn’t fucking lie to America. My heroes didn’t embezzle money from their corporations. My heroes didn’t fucking commit any atrocities.’ That’s cool. But you’re living in a fucking dream world.

Well, okay then.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m actually a pretty big fan of Man of Steel… but as an action blockbuster, not a Superman movie. I get what Snyder was trying to do though, by having Superman – and subsequently Batman – reflect the more morally grey world we live in today. The argument being that a modern character with all that power would either not still adhere to the old-timey morals of those decades past when he was first created or it would make for a bland experience. And personally, I think it’s a total rubbish argument because we have stacks of comics put out every single month showing exactly how that situation is indeed not just possible but can be done damn well.

And if you feel that movies should be viewed separately from comics, then I present to you Exhibit A. The “A” standing for America, as in Captain. Marvel’s onscreen realization of Steve Rogers has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that you can have a character with unbreakable traditional morals excel in a modern setting. Hell, it’s what makes Chris Evans’ portrayal of Cap so damn compelling.

So too with Superman. Yes, it sounds fantastical to have this man be so incorruptible, but that’s the entire point of Superman. He – like so many other heroes – are not supposed to be reflections of our messed up world. They are supposed to be examples of how to rise above the muck, of how we can be better than what we are. Hell, the giveaway is right there in his name.

As expected, Snyder’s words have not gone down so well in the comic book industry, where several writers and artists had something to say about it (via Bleeding Cool).

Last Updated: March 27, 2019

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