Armed with the nefarious kind of energy that compels children to tell other children that there is no such thing as Santa Claus, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder wants fans of Batman and Superman to grow up and know that the characters kill people.
“Someone says to me: ‘[Ben Affleck’s] Batman killed a guy,’” Snyder said during a Q&A after a Watchmen screening event, as seen in a video posted to Reddit on March 24. “I’m like, ‘Fuck, really? Wake the fuck up.’”
Comic book fans complain to Snyder about the dark tone of his movies, he said, airing frustrations about how those heroes have killed people without any kind of remorse or conscience, especially in Batman v Superman.
Then he explained how Watchmen, his 2009 film, is about the gritty reality of superheroes — in no uncertain, or family-friendly, terms.
“Once you’ve lost your virginity to this fucking movie and then you come and say to me something about, like, ‘My superhero wouldn’t do that,’ I’m like, ‘Are you serious?’ I’m, like, down the fucking road on that,” Snyder said.
“It’s a cool point of view to be like, ‘My heroes are still innocent. My heroes didn’t fucking lie to America. My heroes didn’t embezzle money from their corporations. My heroes didn’t commit any atrocities.’ That’s cool. But you’re living in a fucking dream world,” he added.
Granted, Snyder has a point: Plunging superhero stories into reality blurs the line between the “no kill” credos of the most enduring and beloved superheroes like Batman and Superman. And even if superheroes are not outright killing people, if you take a realistic view of their powers, they’ve probably caused some life-altering injuries.
But the “dream world” that Snyder is so down on is literally a dream world — one called fiction. There are decades upon decades of comic books where these characters have existed with a no-kill edict, and Snyder’s movies are ostensibly based on them.
And in dream worlds, you’re allowed to suspend disbelief and believe your heroes don’t kill, don’t steal, and are morally good.
Batman’s no-kill edict may have been an editorial choice, but his decision not to kill is what separates him from the criminals he captures. If Batman were cool with killing, then why does Arkham Asylum, the psychiatric prison where all the bad guys go, exist? And not killing people is why it’s such a shock when Wonder Woman actually does kill, like when she killed a man named Maxwell Lord (Wonder Woman No. 219).
Killing has always been painted as the last resort for these heroes, not an intrinsic element to their heroism. And since their creation, superheroes, including the ones Snyder has depicted in his movies, have shown that morality and heroism are intertwined.
Clearly, Snyder doesn’t believe in this. Though if you watch his superhero movies, it’s not that fans have any reason to think otherwise.