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Zack Snyder Talks Collateral Damage, Batman’s Violence, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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Slight spoilers to follow for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (although, if you kept up with press prior to the release, I doubt any of this will come as a surprise).

One of the biggest criticisms of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘s predecessor, Man of Steel, was the loss of civilian life that occurred in Metropolis during the movie’s finale, as well as Zod’s death. Director Zack Snyder has defended the controversial ending at length, including during an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this week, in which he admitted being “surprised with the fervency of the defense of the concept of Superman […] I feel like they were taking it personally that I was trying to grow up their character.”

Snyder went on to say he was “mystified” to be told by someone that they couldn’t think of another modern movie with comparable collateral damage to Man of Steel:

I went, really? And I said, well, what about [Star Wars: The Force Awakens]? In Star Wars they destroy five planets with billions of people on them. That’s gotta be one of the highest death toll movies in history, the new Star Wars movie, if you just do the math.

I mean, he’s not wrong—if someone were to do the morbid math, more lives were probably lost in The Force Awakens than Man of Steel. But the actual body count is likely less important to most critics than the circumstances under which those deaths occur. Snyder has of course talked at length about why Man of Steel‘s ending was necessary to set up the conflict of Dawn of Justice, and I know lots of fans who felt the ending was effective, that the audience’s horror at the destruction of Metropolis was reflective of Clark’s own despair and guilt, but I don’t know if I’m personally convinced.

If you objected to the Man of Steel ending, it sounds like you might have similar concerns about Batman’s characterization in Dawn of Justice. In an interview with heyuguys earlier today, Snyder talked a little more about the violence we can expect from Batman in the movie, and why he decided to include it:

I tried to do it by proxy. Shoot the car they’re in, the car blows up or the grenade would go off in the guy’s hand, or when he shoots the tank and the guy pretty much lights the tank [himself]. I perceive it as him not killing directly, but if the bad guy’s are associated with a thing that happens to blow up, he would say that that’s not really my problem.

A little more like manslaughter than murder, although I would say that in the Frank Miller comic book that I reference, he kills all the time. There’s a scene from the graphic novel where he busts through a wall, takes the guy’s machine gun…I took that little vignette from a scene in The Dark Knight Returns, and at the end of that, he shoots the guy right between the eyes with the machine gun. One shot. Of course, I went to the gas tank, and all of the guys I work with were like, ‘You’ve gotta shoot him in the head’ because they’re all comic book dorks, and I was like, ‘I’m not gonna be the guy that does that!’

Admittedly, I haven’t seen Dawn of Justice yet (Lesley Coffin attending an early screening) but hearing Snyder describe why Batman isn’t technically a murderer doesn’t instill me with a lot of confidence.

(via Comic Book Resources)

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