ByRobbie Blasser, writer at Creators.co
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Robbie Blasser

I do not intend the following to be an insult of either Zack Snyder or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, nor a defense of them either. Rather, it's just something that made everything make more sense to me, and I wanted to toss it out there. (Note: I obviously have no way of knowing if I'm right or wrong here; this is all admittedly just speculation on my part.)

(But I'm probably right.)

Between Man of Steel & Batman v Superman, I was just initially completely bumfuzzled as to what the hell Snyder was going for with Superman. It wasn't just that he was different than the classic interpretation, but rather how that entire character U-turn seemed so pointless. So he's mopey and angsty and broody and far more self-obsessed... but, like, why? What purpose is this serving? Where's it going? What's the goal here? To my eyes there was none; it was difference for the sake of difference, a shortsighted effort to superficially distinguish this version from all others, because Snyder just felt like he was supposed to or something.

There were only two scenarios that explained this approach to me: 1) That Snyder never had any idea what he was doing with this character and had no creative investment in him whatsoever, or 2) He actually hated Superman's classic character and tried to wreck it. Both of these felt dumb when I really thought about them (the first because there was an obvious intentionality to what he was doing in both movies — confusing though it was — and the second because it's admittedly just flat out idiotic) but, still, they were the only possible explanations I could see.

I was wrong though.

The Objectivist Superman

The revelation that Snyder is super into Ayn Rand clicked everything into place.

For those of you who don't know (and VERY quickly), Ayn Rand was a Russian philosopher who lived from 1905 to 1982, and was most famous for her belief in and promotion of what's called "rational self-interest." The idea there is that a man is at his most morally perfect when he is pursuing his own happiness through logic, and that the ideal society is one that allows each person to pursue their own happiness. Basically, her philosophy comes down to the idea that we, as individuals, become lessened and miserable when we're burdened by the needs and desires of others, and that being immersed in an environment which prevents us from attaining our own needs and desires is the worst possible scenario a person can be in.

So Superman, as we knew him before 2013, was essentially screwed through this lens, and the one from Man of Steel was placed in that (allegedly) same soul-crushing situation. But instead of rolling over and playing the hero with a smile on his face, Snyder's version of the character showed the wear and tear of this psychological dilemma he couldn't seem to escape. And when you really see this, all that confusion I mentioned in the introduction becomes much more clear:

He was filled with angst because he was special, and yet surrounded by mediocrity. He was mopey because he couldn't just be as powerful and awesome as he was; society made him feel like he had to be "normal." He was broody because no one got him, no one saw him as that conquering hero of specialness he deserved to be seen as. That was Snyder's genuine view of the character, I now believe.

More than that, I think Snyder honestly sympathized with him. I think these movies became illustrations of the tragic nature of this god-like being's existence in our small little world. And the goal for Snyder was to get this guy to embrace his special importance, to realize that it was much more necessary for him to do what he himself deemed worthy, rather than worry about those who would drag him down to their level if given the chance.

This is why it was okay for the people of Metropolis to die by the thousands in the final battle between him and Zod at the end of MoS: they needed to not matter. Superman allowing them to die — or rather, his behavioral indifference to whether or not they did as he fought his own personal fight — was an important step for him in his evolution. After all, "a lion doesn't concern itself with the opinion [or lives] of sheep."

The Tragedy of Sacrificing Specialness

This really clicks when you see the montage of him saving people early on in BvS; he looks bored and miserable the whole time; he approaches towing a freighter through the Arctic ice or pulling astronauts out of an exploding rocket the way you or I would view picking up after a toddler: as something circumstance forces upon us, that we both feel like we're better than and are deeply unappreciated for.

And that could easily be why it was so important for Snyder to work "The Death of Superman" angle into the ending: It's the final sacrifice of this Great Man, being destroyed by the needs of those less than him. It's the tragedy of a lion giving himself up for sheep. That's the resonance of that scene for Snyder, I think.

In other words, I now sincerely believe Snyder legitimately felt for the character and was creatively invested in all of it. These movies were, in fact, all about Superman, and had nothing to do with those he was serving and/or protecting, for better or worse. Which is why people like me didn't like it:

It's hard to be inspired by a hero who sees everything in his life through the lens of how it affects him, even the saving of others. But still, assuming I'm on to something here...

You can't say Snyder didn't have a distinctive creative vision for Superman, or didn't build his movies around that. You really can't.

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