From Dawn of the Dead to Batman v Superman, Zack Snyder has demonstrated his skill with both stunning visuals and deeply heartfelt moments. Animorphs beautifully blends action and emotion, as I discussed in this post. While it would be difficult to capture the Animorphs' years-long story in a movie (as opposed to a TV series), if the series were ever adapted into a film franchise, who better to take on the challenge than Zack Snyder?
A major part of what makes #Animorphs special is the characters and their internal turmoil. Each book is written in first person, and some of the most poignant quotes aren't dialogue but part of their internal commentary. It's something that would be really hard to bring across in an adaptation without excessive voiceovers, which is where Snyder would be perfect. He's a visual storyteller — his scripts don't have any wasted words. He'd be able to bring across all the emotion in those scenes without overusing voiceovers.
Snyder is the king of distinctive visual style and subverting common tropes. We know for certain that Snyder's not afraid of so-called silly topics: he's made his career on geeky interests and comic book movies, after all. Furthermore, he uses his awesome visual sense and artistic eye to create beautiful, memorable scenes in movies based on comic books. I'd love to see him take on the action sequences in Animorphs. They're all fast paced, bloody and ridiculously violent. For books aimed at children, they're horrifyingly graphic, and Snyder is bold enough to commit to that.
Snyder also specializes in philosophy. #BatmanvSuperman is arguably his best work yet because of his emphasis on philosophy in that movie. Animorphs is a masterpiece that beautifully questions right versus wrong and never flinches from discussing the realities of war. Snyder often works with religious philosophy, which isn't the main theme in Animorphs, but the complications of war would be something slightly different that he could pull off beautifully. He conveys complicated issues clearly without oversimplifying them. A huge part of what makes his work special is that he clearly has fun working in the superhero genre without making fun of it. Adapting Animorphs would be a challenge he's perfect for.
Snyder's main strength is embracing these issues for big blockbusters and popular adaptations. That's exactly what Animorphs was: everyone has at least heard of them. With the perception of them today, it's easy to forget that they were hugely popular in their heyday and they were one of the best selling children's series ever.
Girls And Gumption
Every Snyder movie features complex, awesome women that are completely different from each other. His idea of a strong female character isn't just one that punches people. No, his idea of a strong female character is a smart, brilliant journalist that isn't a fighter, but is brave enough to stand between her injured boyfriend and the raging vigilante holding a spear, trying to kill him. It is a senator that's not going to bow down to special interests. It is a victim who fights back against impossible odds, even when rendered almost powerless. They certainly can get into physical fights, but that's far from all they are.
Animorphs has fantastic female characters and it would be great to see Snyder's take on them. From Rachel, the smart, beautiful golden girl who got thrown into war and learned she liked it, to Cassie, the perceptive, kind, manipulative killer that hated all the violence but was one of the most dangerous, to Eva, the mother that calmly walked right back into slavery because she wouldn't risk open war — the female characters were just as fully-realized as the male.
Deconstruction Of Conventions
Animorphs is a complete deconstruction of everything you'd expect from a children's series about aliens and saving the world. The last book was dedicated to the aftermath of a three-year war and the ways in which the characters recovered (and didn't) from the trauma of being child soldiers. It's also hysterically funny — made doubly so by how ridiculously '90s it is — with an underlying theme of hope. One book featured the lead characters staging an incompetent rescue of an android from a mall using a Bill Clinton mask, a misspelled sandwich board sign, a lava lamp, and Tommy Hilfiger underwear. It refuses to ever be pigeonholed as just one thing. It's a science fiction war story about slavery and morality that's told as the story of a bunch of idiot kids trying to save the world.
Snyder is fantastic at deconstructing tropes. Batman v Superman is a political drama on top of an action movie — plus superheroes. He has directed all sorts of cool, almost psychedelic takes on classic genres. I've previously written about how Batman v Superman and #ManOfSteel deconstructed the superhero genre, and I think those deconstructions similar to the ways in which Animorphs reinterprets the sci-fi adventure genre. If Animorphs were better known, I'm sure a lot of people would decry it as "grim-dark", like they did with Batman v Superman. But it's not — it's grounded. It's not dark for the sake of being dark, it's dark because it's a war story. Snyder could do this justice better than anyone else.
Animorphs shouldn't be compressed into just one movie. It would need a series to do it justice. If I had to choose just one book for Snyder to adapt, though, I'd have to go with a combination of The Andalite Chronicles and The Hork-Bajir Chronicles, two of the prequels to the main series. This would mean sacrificing the protagonists of the series, but the Chronicles would suit his directing very well.
These two books are set on multiple different planets, which would make full use of his skill with world building. They have a wide range of characters from different backgrounds — the idealistic scientist whose wish was for the sentient species of the universe to explore together, the civilian who had never known war but found himself leading an army to defend his people's freedom, and the cynical warrior who had lost friends and became willing to do whatever it took to win.
Numerous ethical issues, the difficulty of doing the right thing, complicated and well-developed character dynamics — these two books capture much of the essence of what Animorphs is while being more self contained than any part of the main series.
Animorphs the book series was geared towards children, as was the TV show. But if a movie were made (and made accurately) it couldn't be. I love the books, but even so, they can nearly be considered traumatizing. There's a scene where one of the characters loses an arm, then uses said arm as a club. The first book opens with an alien being eaten alive. Those are things you can apparently get away with in books, but not in PG-rated film. So even if Snyder were interested, it seems highly unlikely that any studio would go for an R-rated adaptation of a children's series.
If more people gave Animorphs a chance, they'd love it. These books are dark. They never shy away from discussing trauma. They clearly have an anti-war message that deals with slavery, the ethics of combat and intergalactic politics. But they're also hilarious. A Snyder adaptation of it would open a lot of people's eyes to how fantastic a series it is.
Zack Snyder is a perfect fit for an Animorphs movie because of his mastery of how to present philosophical ideas, his distinctive style and his treatment of women. This movie will probably never happen, but if it did, it would have the potential to be one of the best science-fiction adaptations ever made.
What do you think about an Animorphs series? Let me know in the comments section down below.