Comic fans and movie critics alike went absolutely mad over Batman v Superman, but if you think that’s becoming a more and more common phenomenon… the movie’s cinematographer agrees. At the time Zack Snyder’s stylish sequel divided fans, with most critics citing it as the lowest point yet for the heroes, and the genre. But since then, tensions and reviews have only gotten more heated.
More recently, fans made The Last Jedi the Batman v Superman of Star Wars, proving beloved franchises are just as likely to turn critics against them as the fans, or earn praise just as easily. It’s a strange time to be a fan of geek blockbuster – so strange, even BvS cinematographer Larry Fong has given up trying to understand reviewers at all.
Speaking in an interview with ComicBookDebate, the insights offered into Fong’s work on Batman v Superman inevitably led to a discussion of the public reception. Not in terms of the box office success – bringing in $870 million – but the divisive response from fans, as well as a critical lambasting. While Fong says that Snyder got the worst of the response, hearing some give his own work and crew a pass turned out to be the “weirdest” reaction:
Everyone has their opinion. Does everyone have to love the movie? Of course not… visually I feel like me and my crew killed it, so when you hear things about it, it kind of hurts. To be honest the weirdest thing… I’ve never really talked about this. But the weirdest thing, and this has happened a lot, I’ll have a stranger come up and say, ‘Batman v Superman really sucked… but don’t worry, what you did was great. It looked really good. It wasn’t your fault.’
And I listened to that for a while and was like, ‘Okay, well thanks.’ But then the more I thought about it I thought I’m not going to accept that. Because everyone’s working towards a common goal, right? And Zack’s my brother, I’m not gonna go ‘YEAH!’ you know, ‘HE did a horrible job… but I didn’t! I just did MY job! That’s right!’ I don’t accept that. If you make a baby together you’re proud of that baby. You can’t divide that up.
It’s probably worth considering the weighting of a movie review when a film is ‘rotten,’ but the crew responsible for how the movie looks is praised – since film is a visual medium, first and foremost. But regardless of where one lands on the movie, or Man of Steel or even Justice League (neither of which Fong worked on, despite the occasional troll on social media), the resulting fan base confirms Snyder’s and Fong’s work was appreciated.
And as we’ve noted before, one online fan contest shows how Batman v Superman fans caught what critics missed. Fans who, from their perspective, embrace the film for many of the ways it’s distinct from the rest of a largely formulaic ‘superhero’ genre. A formula that Snyder’s DC movies avoided altogether – at their own peril, critically speaking. Fong has nothing but love for Snyder and fans of his own work, but admits that when it comes to understanding critical reception… he’s at a loss. These days, not just for his own films:
I’m not going to pretend I understand anymore [Laughs]. Because I don’t. You know, [critics] see a film… The films I like, no one seems to like, and the films I don’t like, everyone likes. So there’s a disconnect for me. I can’t even pretend to understand how it all works.
More movie fans should take his lead, and accept that it’s not a critic’s job to tell audiences what they love or hate. Let us know if you share Fong’s opinion of the impossible-to-rationalize movie review scene in today’s cinema landscape, and be sure to check out the full interview.
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