I had the opportunity again to watch Watchmen this past week. To my surprise I found it to be one of the best superhero movies I’ve ever seen. Maybe I had forgotten exactly how good the movie was, but it is clear now that this movie is one of Zack Snyder’s best works. I had first seeing the movie about five years ago, and it wasn’t until my freshman year in college that I actually read Alan Moore’s graphic novel — I had to write a paper on it. I was one that wasn’t completely satisfied with Snyder’s recent Batman v. Superman, and after watching Watchmen again, I started to think on why it was, at least for me, that Snyder’s cinematic template didn’t transcend into Dawn of Justice.
Who Watches The Watchmen?
Watchmen stays true to its comic interpretation. The dark and gritty feel from the graphic novel is definitely in the movie, and even little details from the book, like the comic book within the comic book, was present. I don’t think there is another film that perfectly translates the tone, characters, and the overall atmosphere from its book source better than Watchmen. And it is here where Batman v. Superman begins to tremble.
No Room For Liberty | Working With Establishment
While I did enjoy the movie, especially Ben Affleck’s interpretation of the Batman, Batman v. Superman gave us something different than what most people have come to expect from the two heroes. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, since innovations are what keep the industry moving forward from a creative standpoint, we have to remember that Superman and Batman are two, if not the two, of the most recognized superheroes in America. With that being said, then altering what is true to their personas and what's already established, can ultimately damage the movie, if it’s not what people are expecting to see. Which, to some extent, was true.
This case was not entirely present in Watchmen, as Alan Moore’s masked vigilantes are not widely known and exactly attached to the DC universe until recently with DC Rebirth #1. So, Zack Snyder had more liberty and space to experiment with the characters. Prior to Watchmen, the only published material on the Watchmen was the 12-issue miniseries which was later turned into a graphic novel.
This was different in Batman v. Superman though, because those two characters have decades of character development and are still evolving today.
A Different Batman And Superman
In Batman v. Superman we saw a more darker Batman. I personally loved Ben Affleck’s performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman and for me, he is the best actor to portray the Dark Knight on the cinematic landscape. Nonetheless, it was a different Batman. For once, he actually killed, pushing away from his moral grounds he so strictly follows in the comics and animated shows. While I personally didn’t dislike this aspect, it is the principal nuance many fans and critics came to hate from the new Batman. In turn, Snyder’s Superman character was first presented to us in 2013’s Man of Steel, so we knew what to expect from the caped hero on this go. Even though, distaste for Superman’s dark emotional feel already started to rise after the critical reception of that movie.
Some love Henry Cavill’s Superman and some don’t, but it is not the character that doesn’t stay true to his comic persona, but rather the environment he is been placed at. In the Snyder films Metropolis feels more like Gotham City, making Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice more of a Batman film than both a Superman and Batman movie. A good reference for the Metropolis most people have come to know and love can be traced to the Superman animated series, and even to its television interpretation on the CW’s Smallville and its sister city, National City, in Supergirl. The city is shown to have a very active and “happy” feeling.
It seems to be then that Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was not necessarily a bad movie, but rather a different interpretation of what we have learned to love, so some were disappointed. Everyone loved 300 when it first released, and many others loved Watchmen as well. Zack Snyder incorporated many of the tones and cinematography from those two films into Dawn of Justice, but the critical turnout was surprisingly devastating. Apart from its dark Watchmen-tone, Batman v. Superman was also criticized for its long running time and “jumbled” story. The film may have been long, but that is something we’ve come to know from Snyder. Watchmen was over three hours long and it was perfect.
That is why his cinematic template did not prevail once again. It’s going to take several viewings of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice to truly love and appreciate the movie, and with the Ultimate Edition releasing soon, I’m positive that we will all come to love the movie even more as time goes.