Written by: Bryant Dillon, Special to CC2K
Fanboy Comics President Bryant Dillon explains why (and how) Snyder would make a better director for The Hunger Games.
I know it is a bold statement, especially since Sucker Punch just opened to a mounting pile of disastrous reviews. But, if I was the one with the power of Greyskull in Hollywood, then my choice for director of The Hunger Games would be my boy, Zack Snyder. With films like Watchmen, 300, and the remake of Dawn of the Dead under his belt, Snyder is known for his fanboy glee for ultra-violence and epically beautiful visuals, and he is currently attached to the next big budget Superman film, Man of Steel.
If you haven’t heard of The Hunger Games yet, (which would be hard on this website given that the FBC staff considers the book series the literary equivalent of crystal meth) it is the first book in a trilogy of intensely popular young adult novels involving a Battle Royale-esque plot set in a dystopian future where twelve districts exist under the rule of a tyrannical Capitol. As punishment for a prior rebellion against The Capitol by the districts, each year two children, one boy and one girl, are selected from each district and forced to participate in “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death that is broadcast on live television. While the book series has a rabid following and has already been heralded in Hollywood as the next Harry Potter or Twilight-type phenomenon, this comparison falls short of representing what author Suzanne Collins has actually created. While The Hunger Games does have elements of the epic battle between good and evil from the Potter films and contains a romance plot that will easily rival the Twilight franchise, it excels beyond both by telling a complicated, honest, and brutal story that deftly explores themes of society’s obsession with violence and death, the true nature of war, and the complexity of evil. This is not to say that these other series do not touch on these themes, but somehow Collins seems to do it with a master writer’s grace, never missing a beat and never condescending to her audience. In short, she never lets The Hunger Games feel like a young adult novel.
Currently, the film version of The Hunger Games is scheduled for release in 2012 and will be directed by Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) and star Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone). While all members of the production so far are A-list level talent, here’s why I suggest that Snyder should be ditching Clark Kent in order to hang with The Mockingjay!
1. Snyder Has A Fanboy’s Loyalty For Source Material! While The Hunger Games is a fantastic trilogy of books, we all know that’s no guarantee that the film version will be just as fantastic. With the wrong pair of hands, the The Hunger Games film could easily devolve into pathetic tween romance sludge or a neutered and easily forgettable action flick. The best bet for a decent film adaption has always been loyalty to the source material, something Snyder has in excess. Both Watchmen and 300 are dripping with fanboy loyalty and most of that can be traced back to Snyder and his excessive geekiness. At the same time, with examples like the finale of the film version of Watchmen (which some geeks actually prefer to the graphic novel ending written by geek titan, Alan Moore!!!), Snyder has shown that he is not so married to the source material that he can’t adapt or cut when the medium demands it. I believe he’s our best shot for getting the story we want to see, the story Collins wrote and not a watered-down or twisted Hollywood version of it.
2. He’s An Expert In The Visually Beautiful And Ultra-Violent! While many seem worried that Gary Ross won’t get Katniss and Peeta’s romance right or will miscast the major roles, my main concern is that this film will suffer repeated attempts to cut out or dilute the more harsh and violent elements of Collins’ story. From a marketing point of view, this film will be a tough sell considering that much of the fan following is under seventeen while much of the violence described in the books flirts with an R rating. Zack Snyder has proven his expertise with violence in a number of different films, and I’m confident that not only would he fight for the appropriate violence to remain in the film, but he would also be perfect for a number of the incredibly visual moments in the story such as Katniss’ chariot entrance where she is clothed in a costume composed entirely of flames and which brands her with the nickname ‘The Girl On Fire.’ It’s a powerful moment in the film that could easily be glossed over, but by choosing a director with strengths outside the “tween” genres, I’m more confident that the film will retain the rawness and power of the novels.
3. The Genetically Altered Critters Of The Hunger Games Are Right Up His Alley! The Hunger Games is just chock-full of all manner of beasties that The Capitol has constructed in their genetic labs. In the novels these creatures range from the beautiful and exotic to the terrifying and deadly, and, given Snyder’s awesome depictions of Frank Miller’s fantasy beasts in 300, I have no doubt that Snyder could once again deliver. In the course of Katniss’ story, we meet hallucinatory Tracker Jacker wasps, half-human/half-beast Muttations, and the animal whose name she eventually adopts, the Mockingjay, a bird which can speak and sing with any human voice it hears. These animals represent not only the unusual and different world which Katniss and company exist in, but also illustrate the arrogance and willingness of The Capitol to “play God” in more ways than one. My greatest fear is that these animals will become demoted to more recognizable and current forms of themselves due to cost and the worry that they will simply confuse people. The loss of elements like these could easily strip The Hunger Games down to a simple story about kids killing each other, instead of the sci-fi story of rebellion against oppression. Under Zack Snyder’s watch, we can expect that these important additions to the story will remain.
4. Snyder Excels At Drool-Inducing, Geektastic Extras! Snyder is a fanboy at heart and that means good things for fans of any project he takes! The extras provided when he shot Watchmen were extensive even without the multiple cut scenes and the animated The Tale of The Black Freighter which push the Ultimate Cut of the film to over three and a half hours in length! Snyder is also the main reason Frank Miller is returning to the world of 300 with Xerxes, a prequel to the original graphic novel and film! If Snyder were put on The Hunger Games, there would no reason to expect anything different. I’d be overjoyed to open my Zack Snyder Hunger Games DVD and find such gems as an hour worth of additional footage, an animated companion piece, or maybe even an R-rated director’s cut of the film! May the odds be EVER in our favor in this department!
5. He Can Bring Fanboy Cred To The Film. While I am of the mind that those who choose to not indulge in Collins’ magnificent novels are simply punishing themselves (very similarly to those who simply refuse to watch Firefly), I will point out that a fanboy friendly name like Snyder’s will certainly help the reception of The Hunger Games within the genre fan communities. Again, I don’t think that it is fair for The Hunger Games to have to deal with the prejudices of the geek community, but judging off of the stink that rose because ofTwilight, I don’t find it that hard to imagine many short-sighted potential fans quickly dropping The Hunger Games in the same mental trash bin as the did the sparkly vampire stories. This would be unfortunate, but could easily be diverted by choosing a geek-friendly director that will bring fanboy buzz to the project. The Hunger Games will already be a hit with its core audience because they loved the novels. With Zack Snyder helming the project, it’ll be sure to attract the attention of some fans who would’ve originally been afraid to touch it.
That’s my case. Given his love for source material, his mastery of the visual and the violent, and the fantastic creatures from his previous films, Zack Snyder is totally the droid we are looking for! On top of that, his name is sure to make the Hunger Games panel a hit at comic-con with more than just “tween” girls and their moms. And, of course, you’ll be thanking me for suggesting Snyder when I invite your over to watch The Hunger Games: The Ultimate Cut with over an additional hour of footage with the Muttations added back in! Let me know below if you feel differently and until then, I’ll be imagining the obligatory Zack Snyder Hunger Games “music video” teaser trailer set to a rockin’ Lacuna Coil single while I ponder which Snyder favorite would make a good Haymitch: Jeffrey Dean Morgan or Gerard Butler?
Bryant Dillon is the President of Fanboy Comics, an independent comic book publishing company based in Los Angeles, Calif. He has produced numerous short films including Something Animal and Batman of Suburbia, and served as Legal Adviser for the film Walken on Sunshine. For more interviews, blogs, and reviews by Bryant and the FBC staff, check out the Fanboy Comics website at FanboyComics.net or sign up for the e-newsletter, The Fanboy Scoop, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.