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WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Justice League
The first two Superman movies divided audiences on the hero’s future from the start, but one Justice League producer thinks his origin story has only now been completed. Since it’s a sentiment coming from producer Deborah Snyder, who shepherded Henry Cavill’s Superman from Man of Steel through Batman v Superman, her words carry added weight. Which makes it even more unfortunate that the release of Justice League was tainted with controversy over Superman’s mustache CGI and extensive reshoots. Because as far as Snyder is concerned, all the filmmakers’ work was leading to this: the rebirth of the true Superman in the big screen Justice League .
And despite some of the harsher criticisms of the movie, WB, Zack Snyder, Joss Whedon, and anyone else remotely associated with it, there’s a case to be made that the “true” Superman is almost delivered on. It just may not have been the version of either the hero, or the journey, that either Deborah or Zack Snyder had when plotting out Superman’s three-part story.
The idea of two entire Superman films comprising only his origin story comes from a quote by Deborah Snyder in Justice League: The Art of the Film, specifically from the section naming Superman’s return as “Hope Awakened.”
“Superman’s return is both physical and symbolic. The first two movies were his origin story: he came to Earth, realized his powers and started to use them, but he was looking for his place in the world. Now, after his great sacrifice for mankind, he’s reborn on Earth and feels like he’s a part of this world.”
Her description of the first two movies having Superman encounter doubt, and be consumed by it reflects our own reading of the movies – and why we hope d that Justice League would see Superman in his true glory resurrected. But hearing Snyder pinpoint that exact character arc as intentional, perhaps some of the more disappointed fans can be swayed. And in the end, the story at hand may have been exactly as it appeared to casual audiences – without sacrificing some larger depth that Snyder would have emphasized, had the final stages of production gone differently.
The film’s defenders will surely side with Snyder, and point to
Superman’s suit being lightened as a literal sign that the gloomy origins have been left behind. And if that’s the case, then the return of his classic score was just as refreshing (although John Williams’s Superman score doesn’t work for everyone). What Snyder’s description also emphasizes is that, at least from the filmmakers’ side of things, Justice League marks a new beginning for the DCEU Superman. Interestingly, it’s the fact that he is “reborn on Earth” that may be more important than most will realize.
To this point, the Superman of DC’s movie universe has been a man of two fathers, two worlds, and two callings. Perhaps his resurrection should be seen as a fresh start in that regard, as well. The last son of Krypton carried his father’s hopes to a new world… and was forced to defeat the enemy of his father’s hope – twice. Now that the issue has been put to bed, has the time come for Superman to be the hero of Earth, exclusively?
Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see in future films. But with Zack Snyder’s role in the DCEU unclear for now, hope may be all fans have.