Zack Snyder is no stranger to interacting with fans—he often uses the social media platform Vero to interact with fans, answer questions, share advice, and share behind-the-scenes moments from his many movies. This past weekend in Pasadena, California, Snyder, alongside Vero, hosted “The Director’s Cuts”—an event showcasing the director cuts of Dawn of the Dead, Watchmen, and Batman V Superman. The money raised with ticket profits was used to fund renovations to the theater at Snyder’s alma mater, ArtCenter College of Design. Following the screenings, fans had the chance to eat dinner and socialize with other Snyder fans who had come from all over the world to participate in this special weekend. Following dinner, there was a Q&A session featuring Zack, his other half and amazing producer Deborah Snyder, and other chosen cast and crew.
I had the privilege to attend this event on the night of Watchmen. There is no mistaking this movie is the ultimate homage to the brilliance of Alan Moore’s graphic novel. I’m not being dramatic when I say I’ve seen the film nearly 100 times, but nothing compares to the experience of watching it in a room filled with other fans and with Zack Snyder himself. As the opening credits play, the crowd cheers for the cast and crew, getting extra rowdy for the celebrity guests in the room like Zack, Debbie, and cinematographer Larry Fong. Throughout the movie we all laughed, quoted our favorite parts, sung along with the score and shared a few collective winces at the particularly gruesome parts. Next was dinner, which on the way out of the auditorium I happened to be walking in front of the brilliant visionary Larry Fong. He stopped to chat and introduce himself and I was shaking the entire time. I was honored to get to explain to him how much his work meant to me. He was incredibly humble throughout the whole night.
The next part of the night was the Q&A session which was joined by editor Bill Hoy, actor Jackie Earl Haley, who plays Rorschach in Watchmen, Larry Fong, Deborah Snyder, and Zack himself. The night starts off simple, questions about Zack’s directorial style, and some on Larry’s work, and how the editing process worked with the movie. One of my favorite questions of the night was when Debbie talked about her journey about getting where she is today. Her very moving advice to women in the film industry was to keep pushing towards the where you want to be, whether it be on the big screen or behind the stage. Start off where you can and be the best at it. At one point she was just getting coffee and now she produces some of the biggest movies in Hollywood. Hearing the passion and drive in her voice had me in tears the entire time.
Watchmen is great because it shows the shaky morality in heroes. It doesn’t show you the easy victories—it brings the ugly truth to light. Recently, it seems like superheroes are pushed to be held to a golden standard and that’s all they can be. But as Zack said, “it’s all a fantasy.” Even real world figures we consider heroes are far from perfect. It’s absurd to believe otherwise. President Abraham Lincoln, for example, is most notoriously known for “freeing slaves”, but do we ignore the fact that he owned and profited from slavery, the bloodshed caused during his presidency? We should be able to recognize both sides of the spectrum, the black and white and in-between grey.
The hot topic of the night, and of the week has been Zack having batman kill. At the end of the day, it’s Zack’s creative freedom as a director, the movie’s been out for 3 years, either you like it or you don’t but bloggers are still complaining about the same thing. Yes batman killed in BvS, but newsflash to anyone who’s tried reading comics or seen any other adaptation of batman, those adaptations have killed too. But facts don’t matter when certain bloggers and critics have been senselessly trying to tarnish make Zack out to be some kind of comic book villain. When Zack responded to the question, those who were actually there could tell how unapologetic Zack was about his decision. To people on the internet they saw it as harsh and rude but it was anything but—it was an artist sticking by his art, someone who had every right to say the things he did. He confronted the shallow thinking of a lot of the criticisms of BvS and how compared to Watchmen, it’s all a joke. Our heroes are not perfect, they will never be perfect, that doesn’t make them less of a hero, it simply makes them more relatable. Zack didn’t make Batman kill to make people mad, he did it to push the character, because he truly loves the character and loves the work he does. He didn’t want to regurgitate a previous Batman, he wanted to give us something different and I respect him for that.
Another main thing taken away from that night was the type of team Zack and Debbie are. They really care about every step in the filmmaking process. Whether it be making sure they cast the right choice, not caring about money or status, or continuing to push projects that they truly care about, Debbie revealed they have a ten year project they’ve been trying to get an approval on. They do what they do because passion, because they are artists in the truest sense of the word.
Towards the end of the night they stuck around to meet with fans, taking pictures, giving autographs, or just getting to know us. I had the privilege of meeting Zack, Debbie and I was able to talk to Larry again that night. With Zack I talked about how Sucker Punch changed the way I looked at film and how it made me fall in love with film. It was truly a dream come true getting to tell him that. I bonded with Debbie over being Jersey girls and she poured out her heart about getting more women into the film industry, how her goal is to start off with girls in high school, getting them onto sets, and having them get in experience before college. Larry gave me an inside scoop on how different movies can be when they hit the theaters, and how disappointing it can be for the people who worked on the film, talking about a recent project of his, The Predator (2018).
Overall this weekend was something not only special for fans but also for Zack and the crew— they also reached out and expressed their enjoyment over the weekend. I got to meet my own personal heroes and fellow Comicbook Debate writers and other mutuals from twitter. Even with all the negativity and misleading information being spread by people who didn’t even attend the event, one thing is certain—this weekend will continue to be talked about for a while.