Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy arguably changed the course of movie history, proving that superhero movies could be good if you at least took the making of it seriously and creating an appetite for good cape movies that was eventually fully sated by Marvel Studios with Avengers: Endgame (and yet they keep making the things), but if you were to ask Nolan, he’d say there’s someone else out there making more influential blockbusters than he is: Zack Snyder. Yes, the same Zack Snyder we all know from those Zack Snyder movies, not some arthouse Zack Snyder.
This came up in a profile of Snyder that The Atlantic published, with Nolan offering some… interestingly high praise for his Man Of Steel collaborator (Snyder directed it, Nolan was a producer and helped develop the story). “There’s no superhero science-fiction film coming out these days where I see some influence of Zack,” Nolan claimed, adding, “When you watch a Zack Snyder film, you see and feels his love for the potential of cinema. The potential of it to be fantastical, to be heightened in its reality, but to move you and to excite you.”
The Atlantic itself offers a similarly glowing (if barely convincing) argument, saying that “Snyder helped establish the template for comic book movies as they evolved from summertime popcorn fare into ubiquitous year-round spectacles.” Nobody really thinks of 300 as a comic book movie, but also there’s not much else like it, and Watchmen came out after both The Dark Knight and Iron Man (and Man Of Steel came out after The Avengers), so it’s weird to argue that any modern superhero movie is really following in his footsteps at all. That’s unless the point is that he makes big spectacle movies that are based on preexisting IP, but everyone does that now and none of it really looks like a Zack Snyder movie or has the cartoonish self-seriousness of a Zack Snyder movie.
But Christopher Nolan seems like a smart guy, so if that’s what he thinks, maybe he’s right? Or maybe Snyder is just a nice, cool guy and the people who know him have a lot of respect for him, and we should be less snarky about him and everything he does? Maybe that can be our resolution for 2024.