Has Sucker Punch ruined Zack Snyder's Superman chances?

With the critics savaging Sucker Punch, it's possible for Warner Bros to promote Christopher Nolan, demote Zack Snyder and still use his mainly visual gifts

Can one film ruin a career? Maybe it can, if that film is Sucker Punch. Speculation has been rife this week that Zack Snyder might find himself out of the Superman hotseat due to the critical drubbing and poor US box-office bow for his salacious new action fantasy. MTV News even quotes a number of critics willing to bet their last greenback that the US film-maker is about to be unceremoniously dumped in favour of another director.

At first glance, this all seems a bit farfetched. Snyder was only handed the job of reviving the Man of Steel in October, and Warner Bros executives will rest comfortable in the knowledge that they have producer Christopher Nolan above him in the film-making hierarchy as the project's "godfather". On the other hand, anyone who has seen Sucker Punch will easily be able to understand why it might prove to be the director's kryptonite.

Horribly misconceived, puerile, distasteful and hugely wasteful of the talent involved, Snyder's latest release is Coyote Ugly for the fanboy brigade – or Girl, Interrupted, had Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie been forced to spend the entire film shooting things while tarted up to the nines in stockings and suspenders. Quite what Snyder was thinking is anyone's guess, but one can only assume he was given free reign to indulge his cinematic vision following the relative box-office successes of 300 and Watchmen (and promptly fluffed his lines).

Snyder's vision, such as it is, seems to be that of a 15-year-old video-game junkie. Sucker Punch is all hotpants and uzis, scantily clad babes blowing the bejesus out of hordes of zombie Nazi troopers and bazookaing dragons and giant robots to kingdom come. It's even compartmentalised into game-style, task-orientated segments which must be completed to allow our high-kicking heroines to escape the nuthouse-cum-whorehouse where they have been incarcerated.

One can only imagine somebody somewhere thought this might appeal to adolescent males in the same way the similarly vacuous Twilight movies have drooling teenage girls flocking to cinemas. I am pleased to report that somebody somewhere got it very wrong indeed. I am less pleased to admit that, earlier this year, I thought Sucker Punch might just be one of this year's fantasy highlights, based on Snyder's excellent efforts on Watchmen. If he does remain in charge of Superman, we can only hope that results will improve when he is once again working from somebody else's screenplay, which in the latter film's case is a much-hyped David S Goyer/Nolan creation.

The other big news this week on a Warner/DC tip (the studio owns the screen rights to all the comic book publisher's major titles) is head honcho Jeff Robinov's LA Times interview, in which he reveals two things. Firstly, Nolan will be in charge of rebooting Batman in a producer's role once he has finished work on The Dark Knight Rises, and secondly, there are proposals in the works to revive the long-awaited (albeit with some degree of trepidation) plan for a Justice League movie, uniting the caped crusader with Superman, Wonder Woman and other characters in one feature.

What this means is that Warner are basically counting on Nolan to oversee both their major superhero "franchises" for the foreseable future. What it does not mean, apparently, is that the British film-maker will also be taking charge of a Justice League film. Speaking on the red carpet at the London premiere of Sucker Punch, Snyder said there were no plans to link his iteration of Superman or either Nolan version of Batman (either the current series or the planned post-Dark Knight Rises reboot) with Justice League.

"It doesn't [connect]," Snyder said. "Like what Chris Nolan is doing and what I'm doing with Superman, what they'll do with Justice League will be its own thing with its own Batman and own Superman. We'll be over here with our movie and they'll kind of get to do it twice, which is kind of cool."

Except, of course, that it isn't. The most recent attempt to bring Justice League to the big screen failed precisely because executives feared putting parallel iterations of Batman and Superman on the screen at the same time. Why they have changed their minds now, beyond the potential for generating extra revenue, is somewhat open to question.

Without tie-ins to the more grown-up solo series (the Snyder-Nolan Superman is being pitched as a more realistic take than previous versions, in line with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight), Justice League looks likely to be a rather insipid affair, since none of its main protagonists will have more than a small portion of screen time to establish themselves.

So here's a solution: give Snyder Justice League. The film-maker has an unquestionable gift for visual flourishes which might just paper over the cracks of what would likely be a prosaic storyline, even if it didn't quite work for Sucker Punch. Then give Superman to someone else, or better still hold off bringing the Man of Steel back to the big screen until Nolan himself has the time and inclination to take on the project as director. Mr Robinov, I'll expect my cheque in the next post.


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Man of Steel: ground zero for the DC Comics universe

Ben Child: Warner's plans for a new Avengers-style blockbuster are too hasty – the studio need time to establish their new superheroes

Ben Child

21, Jun, 2013 @3:26 PM

Man of Steel: Lois Lane's iPad points to Snyder's fresh approach to Superman

Ben Child: Writer David Goyer says the film will take a more realistic approach to the comic book hero, 'humanising the inhuman'

Ben Child

01, Feb, 2013 @1:34 PM

Article image
What will Superman look like in Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan's hands?
Ben Child: There's been much brave talk about reimagining Supes from scratch for the new film – but how far will the pair risk going?

Ben Child

17, Mar, 2011 @3:36 PM

Man of Steel new trailer: is this the Superman you want to see?

Ben Child: The battle for superhero movie supremacy continues, as a trailer for Man of Steel shows off furious action, a glimpse of General Zod and a Superman fit for the iPhone generation

Ben Child

17, Apr, 2013 @3:23 PM

Who will play Batman for his tussle with the Man of Steel?

Ben Child: Casting speculation mounts for the Batman/Superman face-off announced at Comic-Con, while Wonder Woman may finally get a movie of her own

Ben Child

26, Jul, 2013 @4:04 PM

Article image
How can Warner Bros draw the Justice League together?

Ben Child: Marvel got the balance just right for The Avengers, introducing each player in a vivacious and well-planned movie series. But how will Superman, Batman et al hook up?

Ben Child

08, Mar, 2013 @12:57 PM

Article image
Please, Zack Snyder, say no to a souped-up Superman
Ben Child: There's only one thing worse than Matthew Goode as the Man of Steel – rumours that Snyder plans to 'Avatarise' the film's effects

Ben Child

25, Nov, 2010 @5:05 PM

Man of Steel sequel flies into production

Warner Bros is expecting box office success with current Superman film, so studio has already started working on a follow-up

Ben Child

11, Jun, 2013 @3:29 PM

Article image
The Dark Knight Rises trailer leaked via audience's Bat-mobiles

Ben Child: As Potter fans stagger home and upload their shaky phone vids of the DKR trailer, can you decipher what the devil's going on?

Ben Child

14, Jul, 2011 @11:40 AM

Article image
Who could really make Superman fly? | Ben Child
Ben Child: In the 17 years Warner Bros has owned the full rights to the superhero, a slew of directors and actors have been linked with him. Who do you think should take on the man of steel?

Ben Child

23, Sep, 2010 @4:48 PM