Marvel Director Declares War on DC Over Controversial “Snyderverse”

in Entertainment, Marvel

Team fighting in 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' (2021)

Credit: DC Studios

It’s been a bumpy road for DC Studios in recent years, to say the least. But interestingly enough, one of the struggling superhero studio’s harshest critics might be from Marvel’s camp after the director of a wildly popular MCU Disney+ series recently spoke out about his disdain for Zack Snyder’s “Snyderverse.”

The Justice League
Credit: DC Studios/Warner bros.

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No matter how hard they try, DC just can’t seem to cut ties with the ever-controversial Snyderverse, which refers to the fictional shared franchise continuity that began in 2013 with Superman actor Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel and will end this November with Jason Momoa’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023).

The Snyderverse can best be described as a ten-year-long trial and error period, with blockbusters like director James Wan’s Aquaman (2018) grossing over $1 billion at the international box office and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman (2017) trailing not far behind. 

Amber Heard as Mera (L) and Jason Momoa as Aquaman (R) in 'Aquaman'
Credit: Warner Bros.

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On the other hand, the Zachary Levi-led comic book sequel, Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023) premiered to abysmal reviews and record-low attendance back in March, making franchise history as the lowest-grossing DCEU film since it kicked off in 2013. August’s Blue Beetle (2023) hasn’t fared much better.

The first cut of Joss Whedon’s Justice League (2017) was also met with such scathing criticisms that Snyder took it upon himself to re-release a four-hour cut of the team-up flick on HBO Max in 2021 with the aptly-named Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Ezra Miller as the Flash
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Now, with the upcoming sequel to Aquaman, which is set to arrive in theaters this December, it looks like this chapter of DC won’t exactly go out with a bang. Early test screenings saw dozens of attendees walking out of the movie before the credits rolled, with some deeming it “borderline unwatchable,” leading to rigorous and, presumably, costly reshoots.

After several failed attempts to get Snyder’s original “five-movie plan” off the ground, DC and Warner Bros. supposedly cut ties with the controversial filmmaker in 2022, despite rallies on social media to “restore the Snyderverse.” Unfortunately for some, the studio has decidedly agreed to move forward without any further involvement of Snyder, “replacing” him with another buzzy Hollywood director.

Zack Sndyer with Henry Cavill (left), Gal Gadot (middle), and Jason Momoa (right)
Credit: DC / Warner Bros.

Enter James Gunn, the Scooby Doo-turned-superhero-genre-extraordinaire, who was the driving force behind Marvel Studios’ critically acclaimed Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. Making his MCU debut in 2014, Gunn stayed aboard for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) before eventually jumping ship after the release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023) for what many believe to be a very good reason.

DC was quick to snatch up the disgraced filmmaker after he was briefly fired from Marvel Studios in 2018 after a series of old tweets resurfaced online, with Alan Horn, then-president of Walt Disney Studios, calling Gunn’s posts “indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values.”

James Gunn at SDCC
Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

After public backlash and a little support from Marvel President Kevin Feige, Gunn was reinstated as director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and the Disney+ Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, but the damage had already been done. During his time with DC, Gunn must’ve made a good impression with higher-ups at Warner Bros. thanks to his efforts on The Suicide Squad (2021), leading to a big promotion.

In late 2022, Warner Bros. left fans shocked after they announced that Gunn and Peter Safran had been named as Co-Chairmen and CEOs of DC Studios, a newly created production entity that will oversee the reinvention of the DCEU as we know it.

James Gunn siting with Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn
Credit: DC Studios

That brings us to today, with Gunn and Safran gearing up to kickstart the first phase of their new DCEU, titled “Chapter One: Gods and Monsters.” With exciting projects like Superman: Legacy, The Brave and the Bold, and Creature Commandos on DC’s slate, it’ll be interesting to see if Gunn and Safran’s vision for the superhero franchise will help restore it to its former glory, or if audiences will turn their backs on DC once and for all if the new TV shows and movies don’t live up to their very high expectations.

Regardless, a filmmaker from DC’s competing superhero studio, Marvel, might’ve recently stirred the pot after he shared his opinions of DC despite wishing James Gunn well in his new position.

James Gunn smiling on the red carpet
Credit: Chris Pizello/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Speaking with (via The Cosmic Circus), Moon Knight director Mohamed Diab didn’t hold back when spilling his true feelings on the “Snyderverse,” noting that he wasn’t a big fan of “the past period” of DC movies. Diab’s remarks came as a response to the question of how he feels about his fellow MCU director taking over as co-CEO of DC Studios, to which he said, “I see him as a great artist:”

I know that some people don’t like James Gunn, but I see him as a great artist who will do great work. Frankly, I didn’t like the past period. The last film, [Zack Snyder’s] Justice League, was significantly better than the first version, but in the end, Snyder’s work in all the movies he made didn’t appeal to me.

Gal Gadot posing as Wonder Woman
Credit: DC Studios

Although the Moon Knight director managed to walk back a bit of his admittedly harsh response by adding that he found the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League to be “significantly better” than the theatrical version, it’s still interesting to hear an MCU filmmaker so candidly sharing their feelings about another, albeit, controversial figure in the superhero genre.

However, it’s important to note that Diab has never been shy about expressing his opinion of fellow filmmakers and other comic book movies, and previously called out both Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) and Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam (2022) for what he perceived as slights against his home country of Egypt.

Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson, L) and Hawkman (Aldis Hodge, R) face off in Black Adam (2022). Credit: Warner Bros Discovery
Credit: Warner Bros./DC

Still, when it comes to Gunn, Diab continued to shower the fan-favorite director with praise, flat-out admitting during the same interview that he “liked James Gunn’s films much more,” expressing his confidence in the Guardians of the Galaxy visionary’s ability to “create wonderful things” for DC:

I think he’s a much greater artist and a very clever writer, and he will do excellent work for DC. I hope people won’t just criticize him because if he loses the DC audience, he’s done. But he is an artist, and he will create wonderful things.

Zoe Saldana as Gamora (left), Chris Pratt as Star-Lord (middle), and James Gunn (right)
Credit: Marvel Studios

Diab’s words do have, perhaps, a bit of wisdom to them, considering he’s not wrong in saying that Gunn has some very high expectations to live up to at DC. Rebooting beloved superheroes such as Superman (in which Cavill was recast) and Robin is always tricky, and unfortunately for him, fan backlash usually comes with the territory.

As for Moon Knight and its Season 2 renewal prospects, things are still up in the air. Diab admitted that he still doesn’t know what Marvel Studios has in store for Marc Spector and his various alter-egos. Still, he seemed confident that Oscar Isaac would get the opportunity to reprise the role at some point down the line.

Oscar Isaac as Marc Spector/Steven Grant/Jake Lockley in Moon Knight
Credit: Marvel Studios

A Moon Knight/Avengers crossover doesn’t seem entirely out of the picture, especially with Avengers: The Kang Dynasty (2026) poised to bring together heroes from throughout the MCU Multiverse. But one thing’s for sure: it seems like Mohamed Diab has already long ruled out the possibility of a Zack Snyder collab.

Do you agree with what Mohamed Diab had to say about DC’s “Snyderverse?” Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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