Zach Snyder. Twit.

Comic Book Resources has a post-opening weekend interview with 300 director Zach Snyder here, wherein he reveals some choice bits about specific reactions to the film, his upcoming Watchmen project, and movies based on comic books. Here are a few of the more curious snips [emphases mine]:

You know, when I see that, when I see someone use words like “neocon,” “homophobic,” “homoerotic” or “racist” in their review, I kind of just think they don’t get the movie and don’t understand. It’s a graphic novel movie about a bunch of guys that are stomping the snot out of each other. As soon as you start to frame it like that, it becomes clear that you’ve missed the point entirely…

…When someone says I’m a “homophobic neocon,” I think to myself and think, “Oh My God! How awesome is it that they care that much!” That’s a lot of caring! [laughs]…

…I’m doing “Watchmen” next for sure. That’s what we’re focusing all our attention on. It’s the shit, as they say! [laughs] It’s the best thing out there. Maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I feel like “Watchmen” is the coolest thing ever and I have to do it…

…A lot of what we’re doing will look exactly as it does in the book, but there are a couple of things we’ll update, like the girls. Not update in the sense that it won’t be 1985, it’ll still be 1985, but to give them a little sexier look or to update the outfits a bit. There’s a sophisticated audience out there

…There’s a lot of crazy concepts in “Watchmen” that I think will end up being the next evolution. In some ways it’s the first time a comic based movie – and I don’t really count films like “Road to Perdition” or “History of Violence” as they don’t feature super heroes, so I don’t count those as “comic book” movies necessarily – but I think when you see a movie with a super hero in it that acknowledges his super hero pedigree, you see him doing adult stuff in a cool way, I don’t know what it means, but it sure is something else and something new for super hero films

There’s quite a lot that speaks for itself here, but I have some thoughts anyway:

1) 300 is certainly a stomp-fest, but to say that people (i.e., yours truly) who see blatant sexism, homophobia, Eurocentrism and a perverse love affair with militarism don’t “get” the film is either intentionally disingenuous (so as to avoid the subject, hmmm?) or simply ignorant. At least Frank Miller is on record now as a self-declared propagandist (see Gary Groth’s 2003 interview with Miller in Comics Journal Library Vol #2: Frank Miller), which couldn’t be more obvious given his current project, Batman vs. Al Qaeda; is Snyder playing coy, or is he really this stupid? Go ahead and guess what I think.

1a) Did you notice that he doesn’t directly refute these accusations, resorting instead to a poorly executed ad hominem attack before laughing out loud as a pretty obvious method of side-stepping the issue? Yeah, me too.

2) In this Reelz Channel interview, Snyder seems awfully proud about keeping his Watchmen film anchored in 1985 because he wants to remain true to Alan Moore’s story. That would mean, I assume, that any updating or tinkering with the story better be for a damn good reason. Snyder says in the CBR interview that audiences are more “sophisticated” now than they were in 1985, and in many ways I agree. After all, Charlie Kaufman’s movies are big budget affairs these days, and things haven’t really been the same since The Matrix.

Snyder’s sense of sophistication, however, is limited to updating the “girls” in Watchmen to give them “a little sexier look or to update the outfits.” But of course; nothing says “sophisticated” like referring to the 30s-something Miss Jupiter and her AARP card-carrying mother Silk Specter as “girls.” It’s clearly understating things to point out how ironic it is to hear Snyder say that viewers who see 300 as something larger than a stomp-and-snot fest just don’t get it, because he is so obviously missing the points Moore raises in Watchmen about the misogyny deeply embedded in the genre of superhero comics. Then again, what can we expect from someone licking their chops to make a Miller Lite commercial? Let’s phrase it as a question, though. Sexism: less filling? Or tastes great?

2a) In the Reelz Channel interview, did you notice Snyder fumble his answer to the interviewer’s question about how he hasn’t connected with Alan Moore (and probably won’t, given Moore’s well-documented disposition towards the project), and how Snyder assumes that upon receiving his complimentary DVD in the mail, Mr. Moore will actually put the little frisbee in his player and actually push play, rather than send it skipping across the nearest pond, and how he needs to practice his stump answer to this dicey question a LOT more before the full-on hype kicks in? Yeah, me too.

3) More than anything, though, I’m deeply troubled that the director of a film based on one of comics’ most sacred texts has such an oversimplified view of the medium that he can only associate “comic book movies” with superheroes. Clearly, some of the best films adapted from comics (American Splendor, Ghost World, and, oh yeah, that other Frank Miller joint, Sin City) have zero spandex, and you’d think someone directing what’s largely considered the holy grail of comic book movies (a movie, by the way, that both Moore and Terry Gilliam are on record describing as inherently unfilmable) would know better.

And I guess this might be fine if Snyder demonstrated more than a superficial understanding of superhero films in the first place, but I think it’s pretty clear he doesn’t when he says such insipid shit like having a superhero acknowledging “his super hero pedigree” would be “something new for super hero films” by “doing adult stuff in a cool way” (<–wuht??). I guess Snyder has been so immersed in his stomping and snot work on 300 that he didn’t catch Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, Bryan Singer’s X-Men and Superman films or even Ang Lee’s much-maligned Hulk.

But, then again, maybe I just “care” too much about Watchmen to see a Hollywood studio tap a director who is as excited to execute Moore and Gibbons’ graphic novel as he is a beer commercial.  Like, “Oh My God!


7 responses to “Zach Snyder. Twit.

  • Who Watches Those Whom Will Watch The Watchmen? « trevor dodge :: male hipster leering

    […] Zach Snyder is no David Fincher, and as I’ve noted before here on this humble blog, Snyder seems to revere Watchmen as much as he does filming a Miller Lite […]

  • Mario Bava

    Dear God– he referred to Silk Spectre as a “girl!” How SEXIST! Is it your job to be permanently offended? Suppose he refers to the “boys” in the story– is it anti-male? Are Miller and Gibbons misgynistic because the female heroes in Watchmen are not doughy and middle aged? Why is Dan Dreiberg allowed to be fat and not Silk Spectre? Sexist pigs! How about the lack of minority heroes in Watchmen? Are Moore and Gibbons racist?

    Yes– Miller saw 300 as a battle between east and west with parallels and analogies to today. So what? Does that discredit it as a work of art because you don’t agree with its point of view? It also still works as a period war story. Is Zack Snyder a bad director because he didn’t bend over backwards to eviscerate Miller’s political paradigms to impose his own on the work?

    Yes, Zack Snyder speaks in the same “cool and awesome” way that Tarantino does. He doesn’t wear his intellect on his sleeve. But rest assured, whether you agree with its allegories or not, you cannot dismiss the visual masterpiece that is 300 as the work of “some uninformed dope.” Maybe you shoudl watch some of the interviews John Ford did late in his career, where Ford did not take the bait to reduce his Westerns in political terms. Snyder is dumb like a fox.

  • trevor

    Offended? Nah. Just raising some questions. And sure, there is at least cultural racism and sexism in Watchmen. That’s not the point I was making, though.

    I very much regard both Miller & Varley’s and Snyder’s 300[s] as works of art. And let’s take this opportunity to get something straight: 300’s qualities as a “visual masterpiece” in both its dead trees and celluloid forms have a whole lot to do with Varley’s amazing watercolor work. I was lucky enough to have Diana Schutz visit one of my classes earlier this year, in which she showed us juxtapositions of Miller’s initial inked drawings with Varley’s final paintings. Schutz has one of the originals in her office, too, and I can tell you from first hand account that Varley’s textures and colors are absolutely breathtaking. So if we’re crediting anyone for the visual splendor that is 300, let’s start first with Lynn Varley (and, secondarily I might argue, Diana Schutz).

    Snyder definitely deserves credit for *adapting* 300 to the big screen, and in that regard he is a very effective lighting rod/channeling device for the visions of others. How he ends up handling Watchmen, of course, is yet to be seen, and it poses a particularly thorny challenge: where Miller and Varley were obviously instrumental and on-hand to help Snyder bring 300 to life, Alan Moore is openly hostile to the project. Having Dave Gibbons consult is important, yes, but there’s a big big piece missing.

  • Mario Bava

    If Moore wanted to prove how unfilmable WATCHMEN was, he should have never agreed to film a bunch of Rorschach segments in the doc THE MIND OF ALAN MOORE. Check it out on YOUTUBE. Pretty sure that’s Alan Moore doing the voice of Rorschach.

    Somewhere between the late 1980s, when Alan seemed to be ok with Watchmen being adapted while freely admitting there’s stuff that would be left out of the translation– and the late 1990s, he decided that his work was sacred and could never be adapted by anyone else to film.

    Dear God, they’ve adapted THE GREAT GATSBY to film twice. Get over yourself, Alan.

  • Mario Bava

    And by the way, until middle-aged, doughy, non-bombshell women (and some of color) start fighting crime in comics, then ALL of DC, Marvel, and the Watchmen Universe are sexist. Period.

  • trevor

    Yeah, it’s hard to say how much of Moore’s “sacred” stance has to do with his wranglings with DC over the film rights to his work, but he’s taken a very firm position on this stuff that he can’t really back away from now (assuming, of course, that he wants to backtrack now or ever in the future).

    Also, I think there’s a pretty big difference between the Rorschach mini-pieces and a full-length film adaptation. I understand the point you’re making, but in those pieces Moore very obviously had a deliberate hand in their production. Again, it’s hard to know what’s the more imperative issue from his standpoint: aesthetics or ownership. These aren’t mutually exclusive, either, so it’s complicated.


    Totally 200% agree with you on your last comment here, Mario. The entire superhero subgenre of comics is rife with racism, gender inequity and hetero-centrism. The indie world has made great strides in these regards but there’s still a long way to go.

  • Who Watches Those Whom Will Watch The Watchmen? : male hipster leering

    […] Zach Snyder is no David Fincher, and as I’ve noted before here on this humble blog, Snyder seems to revere Watchmen as much as he does filming a Miller Lite […]

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