SnyderCon will arrive next week, with director Zack Snyder taking center stage to showcase his DC Extended Universe films and talk about what his fans love the most: himself. Arguably the most divisive director in Hollywood — certainly the most divisive in the comic book movie world — Snyder’s name provokes both intense devotion and furious backlash. It’s impossible to talk about him without acknowledging this ideological juxtaposition, to the point where his cinematic contributions have become somewhat tarnished.
And it’s a shame because, love him or hate him, there’s no denying Snyder is a unique filmmaker with a distinctive and instantly recognizable visual language. Highly stylized and uncompromisingly bombastic, Snyder’s movies are a visual feast, moving paintings with exquisite, albeit harsh strokes of brilliance. His action sequences are dynamic and immersive and his worlds are rich and layered. Snyder is the type of director who cares more about how the characters look than how they act, an admittedly controversial approach for any genre outside the world of superheroes.
Above all, Snyder is daring. The man has a million ideas and attempts to execute them all at once. This method means his narratives are usually dense and heavily charged, overwhelming even; the average Snyder movie poses a thousand questions, offers half the answers, and calls it a win. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this approach, but again, it’s hard to see it working outside the superhero or sci-fi realm. Perhaps that’s why his oeuvre has limited itself to these two genres. And contrary to what many people might think, Snyder understands his strengths.
Post-Quantumania, Marvel needs someone like Snyder
If there’s something Marvel desperately needs right now, it’s ambition. The once-mighty MCU is now creatively bankrupt, struggling to find a suitable narrative to bring together the many worlds, characters, and threads it has used throughout the years. As the franchise continues its grotesque expansion, the cracks in the figure begin to show, proving that nothing is infallible.
Recent Marvel efforts have been uninspired, lazy even. There’s no spirit to them, no levity despite the numerous and often cringy jokes that bookend every sentence. The recent Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is the obvious example, but one can easily make the case that She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, Eternals, heck, even Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, all lacked that Marvel magic that made Iron Man and Captain America: Civil War so special.
The MCU is now a sorry excuse for what it once was, incapable of feeding the once ride-or-die fandom that made it the most successful movie franchise in Hollywood history. Its attempts to innovate have been mediocre to disastrous, mainly because it doesn’t seem to be able to find the sweet spot between the product it needs to be to appeal to the masses and the artistry one expects from a cinematic effort. The MCU needs a bold and absolute director to prove it still has a spine. Who better than Snyder, who has proven his ability to quite literally take comic book panels and bring them to life?
Above all, the MCU needs Snyder’s thirst and bravado, his willingness to be bolder, bigger, and better. It needs a dose of life, a jolt to remind audiences it’s still alive and thriving, and Snyder might be the man to provide it. And while it might be disingenuous to count out the MCU just yet, it’s undeniable that something needs to change if it wants to stay afloat, let alone thrive.
Changes are happening already — why else would head honcho Kevin Feige hit the brakes on almost all of the MCU’s future slate? Marvel should aim for Snyder’s gung-ho approach to filmmaking. It would be divisive, extreme, non-stop, and narratively uneven — but aren’t most Marvel movies nowadays all those things? And Snyder’s movie would be something the latest MCU efforts haven’t been: memorable.
Where Snyder would fit in the MCU
Should Snyder truly go to the MCU, what property would suit him best? My first guess would be something wacky and mythologically adjacent; it’s a shame Eternals is already taken because Snyder would have done wonders with it. It’s better to keep him away from the largest and most commercially accessible IPs — no X-Men or Midnights Sons for him! Snyder needs room to expand, and operating Marvel’s heaviest machinery would limit his ambition.
How about the X-Men‘s British cousins, Excalibur? Sure, they don’t have any heavy hitters, but the team has several interesting characters like Captain Britain and his uberpowerful partner, Meggan. Excalibur could also allow Snyder to bring some of his original DCEU actors over to Marvel — Henry Cavill is a popular fan cast for Captain Britain, to the point where he’s even expressed interest in the role.
More interestingly would be seeing Snyder tackle a group of misfits like the Morlocks or the Exiles. We are now on the obscure corners of Marvel, but at this point in its continuous storytelling, the MCU is turning to the company’s lesser-known teams. Snyder’s upcoming Rebel Moon, one of the most anticipated sci-fi movies of 2023, might be the perfect audition for him to take over the space corner of the MCU now that James Gunn is over at DC. The supposed Nova project is still happening, and Snyder would be a good choice; it might even allow him to play with the Nova Corps and the New Warriors.
Snyder’s style isn’t exactly flexible, but Marvel should be able to find a space to utilize his particular brand to its fullest. Sure, bringing Snyder aboard would come with considerable baggage — the director has possibly the most rabid fandom in the business, and that’s saying something. But the advantages of bringing him along would outweigh the detriments. His involvement with Marvel would also put his involvement with DC to rest, allowing Gunn’s DC universe to move on at long last. Ultimately, it’s all about what best suits the IP, especially when talking about a massive franchise like the MCU. And, against all odds, the answer could very well be Zack Snyder.