“Man of Steel” Preview, Part I: Zack Snyder Makes Great Things Bad

Zack Snyder doesn’t care that staying classic can be gangster. This is how Superman looks in comic books:


Nice. And this is how he looks in cartoons:


It’s clean. Powerful. Primary colors in just the right proportion.

Snyder doesn’t care because he’s crazy, and imbued with Hollywood power.* He directed “Watchmen,” a movie version of the transcendent graphic novel. If you think Superman’s cool, “Watchmen” is one of the best books of modern times, according to Time magazine and anyone who ever read it.

The Alexander-worshiping Ozymandias, “The smartest man on the planet,” looked like this:


Then Zack Snyder made a movie version and decided Ozymandias should look like this:


Did you throw up a little? How awful is that? It’s not even close. Maybe stuff like the pervy, overdone costumes are why legendary “Watchmen” comic writer Alan Moore doesn’t hold back trashing Snyder’s work, and says he won’t ever watch the “Watchmen” movie because it shouldn’t have been made in the first place.

That “Watchmen” movie, in hindsight, is awful for a lot of reasons, including over-the-top slow-motion gore inserted by Snyder because, uh…, that’s what he’s good at? It would be a pop-cultural tragedy, but fans of the book love it so much they just forget the movie or outright refuse to acknowledge its existence.

And now he’s made “Man of Steel,” another revered comic-book commodity, and this is what his Superman’s costume looks like:


That snake skin or something? And what’s with the love handle decorations? Nice random belly-button orb! Does it do something?

The costume looks expensive, and unlike the tried-and-true vintage Superman style that’s endured since the 1930s. This is what Zack Snyder did with “Watchmen”: He prioritized costume updates. He took something great and changed it to suit his cracked-out-fanboy tastes, even though what he likes contradicts the basic ethos of the source material. I’m still mad his Watchmen heroes could fly and punch through walls.

So this “Man of Steel” movie could be a spectacular disaster. We don’t know what’s gonna happen in the story, but Snyder’s last movie, “Sucker Punch,” was a preteen gamer’s wet dream, minus the coherence. It was also loathed by critics (23 percent Tomatometer), including Richard Roeper: “An indecipherable, hypocritical mess that proves you can fill a movie with scantily-clad women with big guns and it can still bore one to tears.”

I blogged about it before. (Watching “Watchmen,” “300,” and “Sucker Punch” While Waiting for Superman.) This picture sums up “Sucker Punch” just fine:


If Zack Snyder’s using Superman to create another of his dumb, crazy action movies, so be it. Be prepared, though, for another bad Superman movie to sting more than you expect.

All that said, there is reason for hope….

Superman wrote these words on his tombstone in the Limbo world between life and death in "Final Crisis"

Superman wrote these words on his tombstone in the Limbo world between life and death in “Final Crisis”

* The thudding failure of “After Earth” has people asking, What happened to M. Night Shyamalan? It’s the same thing that happened to Snyder. Early blockbuster success (“The Sixth Sense” for Night, “300” for Synder), gives a director some Hollywood power. If that director has loopy and wrong ideas about what’s good, the power gets misused and proves dangerous.


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