Responsibility is a word that is meant to describe the idea of accountability for one's beliefs, actions, and their impact on the world around us. However, the idea it's trying to encompass leaves room for interpretation which leads to delegation of responsibility and, ultimately, misuse of the term "responsible."
Take this idea of accountability into consideration for the following scenarios:
Who is responsible for a government? Is it one person or a group? This may vary, but regardless of the number of people running the government, the person whose name carries the most weight behind it takes the full responsibility for the actions of said hypothetical government.
More narrow: Who is responsible for the events of a party - whether they be negative or positive? Most likely, there were several people who helped plan the party, organize the factors that lead to the events of the party, etc. Yet, if anything goes right or wrong, the host is the person who takes responsibility for the events that transpire when recounting the events later.
The point: Who is responsible for a film? The hierarchy associated with a film, even at its most narrow structure, still consists of a director, a composer, producers, writers, actors, and crew members (I could go into specifics, but for the sake of argument this crew is very limited). Now, regardless of the success or failure of this film, who is the first person that comes to mind? In this situation, similar to the first scenario, the person whose name carries the most weight takes full responsibility for the film. If the film is successful and well liked, the names that are not as prominent will most likely be credited for the success as well having contributed positively to a product. In this hypothetical situation, there are only two people whose names become associated with the failure of the film: the director and the actor(s).
As noted above, there are far more than just one or two people involved in making a film. However, only one maybe two people end up taking the fall for a bad film. While this is meant to be about Zack Snyder taking the fall for Batman v. Superman, I feel that it's important to take note of some other films that suffered a similar fate to better prove the unnecessary scapegoating:
This film is arguably the most heavily scapegoated superhero film to date. I'm not saying that Elektra was better by any stretch of the imagination, but what I am saying as that Ben Affleck did not cause this movie to be "horrid" or however you wish to define it. Ben Affleck did not write the film, he did not direct the film, he did not select the cast (by the way, Michael Clark Duncan was Kingpin so he definitely helped make it watchable). What Ben Affleck did was portray the character that had been written for him in the way that he felt it should be done and the way the director told him to do it. One man does not cause the failure of an entire film.
Once again, Nicolas Cage did not make this movie horrible. Granted, he was the biggest star of the entire cast, but that does not make it his fault that the film was not written well. To his credit, his performance was better in the sequel and the focus of the film is the man with the flaming skull pictured above. As a comic film, it captured the essence of Ghost Rider with his religiously based mythology as well as centered in on what makes him an anti-hero. He did his part and enjoyed his time as Johnny Blaze, but one man does not cause the failure of an entire film.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
This film underwent the polar opposite effect of A Nightmare Before Christmas in that people were uninterested because of the producer. To clarify, Tim Burton did not direct A Nightmare Before Christmas just as Michael Bay did not direct Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Tim Burton wrote the story people have come to love and provided the claymation style used to make the film as a producer. The director is named Henry Selick. You may not recognize his name, but he directed James and the Giant Peach only a few years after A Nightmare Before Christmas.
But I digress. Michael Bay was an executive producer on the film. That means he was allowed a certain level of input regarding the design of the characters and potentially a few plot points. Michael Bay did not direct the film, write the script, or choose the team that created the characters. One man does not cause the failure of an entire film.
This film has an extremely interesting situation. The movie did not do well and much like Daredevil, people looked to the main actor, Brandon Routh, as the cause. Also much like Daredevil, the villain was a well known actor who will forever stand out as Lex Luthor in my mind: Kevin Spacey. Now, unlike Daredevil, this film was directed by none other than Bryan Singer. Bryan Singer the "legendary" director of X-Men, X2: X-Men United, and X-Men: Days of Future Past. This film was made after X2, so to say that it was before he found success would be false. Add to it that Brandon Routh has now found success on DC's Legends of Tomorrow and Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. If this film was nearly as damning as people seem to think it is, these three men would be out of a job much like Hayden Christensen (to some extent) and the kid who played young Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. One man does not cause the failure of an entire film.
If that isn't enough to convince you, turn your gaze to the director in question: Zack Snyder. This is not the first time his brand of superhero adaptations has been slammed and it certainly will not be the last. For some reason, though, people will slam him and still go see the next film he puts out. It's as if they want to have a reason to complain, so they pay Snyder to give them more to complain about. How this circular logic fully works is not something I intend to get into at this moment. For now, take note of the similarities between these films and the previous four:
What exactly this film gets attacked for, I'm not entirely sure. Rotten Tomatoes, the most "reliable" site for reviews, showcases mostly vague praise or hatred of the film. I'm at a loss myself because I thoroughly enjoyed the film without even reading the source material. The length may have been an issue and for that, you can blame the director. But the casting, development of the story and various concepts explored by the film, not Snyder's fault. That'd be the writers and producers and anyone else involved in drafting a story for the film based on the book written by Alan Moore. One man does not cause the failure of an entire film.
Man of Steel
If you're looking for the most similar responses of all the films on this list, look no further than this film and Batman v. Superman. As I said, I'm somewhat baffled on how people who didn't like the first film turned around to complain about the next one. I'm not saying it's the exact same people by any means, but the responses were near identical:
- The film is too dark.
- That's not the Superman I remember.
Superman didn't need to kill Zod, nor would be ever do that.
These responses seem to be coming from people who are nostalgic of the "good old days" of film and comics. It's as if Superman needs to be Christopher Reeves every single time he comes on screen to appease this group of people because they don't want anyone to ever take a different approach to Superman. Snyder promoted it as a more realistic Superman much in the way that Christopher Nolan kept his Batman grounded. To say that he didn't do as he said by making Superman a more human character in a darker world than the one he normally inhabits shows a lack of understanding of escapism. Superman was created to live in a happier world because he was born during a time of war. People needed to escape from the horrible, grim reality they lived in and the answer was Superman. After 50+ years of "Mr. Perfect" so to speak, people want to see the humanity in Superman. If you have a problem with someone making Superman different from your childhood hero, you can watch the old films instead of belligerently damning the film for not following your personal view of him.
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
I am yet to see this film, but this article is not meant to be me jamming my opinion down your throat and telling you why I'm right. This article should help you see that what is being said now about this film has been said enough times before that it's just unnecessary at this point. Yes, you're entitled to your own opinion. But restating what has already been said by someone before you or what you said the last time you saw something similar to this doesn't improve your case. If anything, it makes for a weaker argument built by hiding behind the words of someone else.
But I digress (again). The most common issues with Batman v. Superman are akin to Man of Steel, its predecessor:
- The story wasn't good.
- This movie isn't fun.
- That's not the Batman I know.
When critics say a movie isn't "fun" and you should wait for a Marvel movie instead, that should tell you just how reliable critics are. Apparently, the "reliable" critics of Rotten Tomatoes are looking for superhero movies that are not dark, that do not attempt to humanize heroes, that do not explore deeper meanings.
Mark my words: The people that complain about the story of Batman v. Superman and the lack of "fun" presented by the film will be the same people who praise Civil War for its "gripping story" and "intricate character complexities" or something to that effect. The comic event that the film is based off of has as much heart and darkness to explore in a movie as Watchmen, but because it doesn't and keeps a more positive tone it is deemed a better movie.
If you ignore the majority of what I just outlined, at least keep this in mind the next time you decide to tell people why you hate a movie: One man does not cause the failure of an entire film.