It’s been a little over two weeks since Zack Snyder’s Justice League came out, and seeing how my last list ranked the five best DC characters featured in a Zack Snyder movie, it only made sense to rank the worst characters that appeared in a movie of his. Snyder is not necessarily a bad director. He has more than proven that with his cut of Justice League. However, when his characters don’t work, they really don’t work. Here are the five biggest characters who suffered under the direction and writing of Snyder.
5. Clark Kent/Superman (Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice): I understand that a lot of people love Man of Steel, but I’m sorry. I will never see this movie as a proper portrayal of the iconic superhero. Superman is meant to be a symbol of hope and an optimistic figure of justice. I understand if you want to humanize him, but that doesn’t mean he should be a dark and brooding figure who kills his enemies when there are so many other options. Throughout most of Man of Steel, Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) is struggling to figure himself out, and even towards the end it still doesn’t seem like he accomplished that. He is also terrible at saving people. His fight with Zod (Michael Shannon) at the end of his first movie has him kill possibly millions of people in the ensuing carnage and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice pretty much shows that he let Jimmy Olsen (Michael Cassidy) get killed by terrorists. Also, Superman being a symbol of hope doesn’t mean he’s Jesus. The over the top Christ symbolism that surrounds this character in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is unbearable. We get it. He’s powerful. There’s no reason to keep hammering this symbolism into our heads. I don’t blame Cavill, as he’s clearly trying in the role, and for the time that he was shown, he really did improve in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. However, this is a very misguided version of the man of steel and not one that should be continued if they decide to still make him this way.
4. Doomsday (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice): I’m not sure why Snyder felt the need to shove in the Death of Superman story at the end of Batman v Superman, but it was a very odd decision. Superman should not be killed off in the second movie of the DC Extended Universe. If you gave the character a few more films, then it would have felt more meaningful, but bringing in Doomsday during the last third of the movie is just wrong. His creation is also one of the weirdest plot threads I have ever seen in a DC movie. Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) breaks into Zod’s Kryptonian ship and uses his corpse along with his own DNA to create a monster that can kill Superman. First of all, the detail of combining Luthor’s DNA with that of a Kryptonian had already been done with Nuclear Man in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and it was done so poorly that it factored into that film becoming one of the worst comic book movies of all time. Second, and I don’t know if there’s any other way to say this. Zod is not Doomsday. Using the ship to just create the character from scratch would have been enough. You didn’t need to use a body double of Michael Shannon and make him the beast that killed Superman. Also, killing off Superman in the second movie forced him to be absent for the majority of Justice League. In a movie down the road, Doomsday absolutely could have worked. However, because Snyder chose to put him in the second movie and gave a convoluted and ridiculous reason on how he was created, the character will not be able to appear in a future movie without him seeming out of place and people referencing this horrible version.
3. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice): Even though I was not impressed with how Snyder handled the character of Superman in Man of Steel, I had faith in him when I found out that he would be directing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Batman is already a dark and brooding figure and letting Snyder create a story around that character felt right at the time. However, I was shocked to discover that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is one of the worst interpretations of the dark knight that I have ever seen. I understand that Batman isn’t exactly an optimistic character, but good lord. I didn’t think it was even possible to make Batman this dark and brooding, nor did I think it was necessary. I understand if you want to do a version of The Dark Knight Returns, but that really shouldn’t be the version of the character that we will be stuck with for future DC films. Ben Affleck is amazing in the role and is giving one of his best performances ever. Unfortunately, Snyder’s storytelling turns Batman into one of the most unlikeable protagonists to ever appear in a comic book movie. We see Batman do several horrific things in the film like gunning down criminals, letting innocent people die and branding thugs with his symbol like cattle where they will be killed in prison by the inmates as whoever is branded with the bat symbol is murdered. Yes. Batman, a superhero known for having one rule of not killing anyone deliberately sends people off to their deaths in jail. As a massive fan of Batman, this adaptation of the character was so off-putting that I almost didn’t watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League. If it wasn’t for the character being massively improved in the Snyder Cut and Affleck’s incredible performance, this character would be in the top spot.
2. Jonathan Kent (Man of Steel): It’s fitting that the one person who is written even worse than the main character in Man of Steel is the guy who raised him. The main problem with Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) in Man of Steel is that he is arguably the most confusing and frustrating character in the film. We see him try to hide Clark’s powers from the public as he does not want people finding out about what his adopted son can do. He also believes Clark’s powers are too dangerous and need to be inactive at all costs. He even goes as far to tell his son that he probably should have let the kids he goes to school with die after their bus crashes and everyone nearly drowns. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jonathan constantly contradicts himself by saying to Clark that he is destined for great things with his abilities and believes that he will become a protector of the people. This out of nowhere comment that he makes also takes place in the same conversation where he tells his kid that he should have let his schoolmates drown. The stupidity surrounding this character reaches its peak when he forces Clark to let him die in a tornado to avoid the risk of exposing his superpowers. The film implies that we should feel sad during the scene in which Jonathan died, but all I’m thinking is that his death easily could have been avoided if he wasn’t such a stubborn jerk. Were we even supposed to like this guy? One moment he’s proudly stating that his son will be a hero and the next he’s chastising him for saving innocent people. The Jonathan Kent that was seen in the original Superman movie from 1978 didn’t have a ton of screen time, but when you saw him you instantly believed his relationship with his son and genuinely felt saddened when he died. Very little about this version worked. Costner gives the same bland performance that he has been giving in his other movies. Jonathan Kent is hands down the most poorly written character in Man of Steel, and when so many other people in that film suffered from awful writing, that is saying something.
1. Lex Luthor (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder’s Justice League): I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This is the absolute worst version of Lex Luthor that has ever appeared onscreen. Even though the character has been butchered in other media, nothing compares to this awful version. From the moment it was announced that Jesse Eisenberg would be playing Superman’s arch enemy, I knew that it was the wrong choice. Jesse Eisenberg can be a great actor, but he was never the right choice to play Lex Luthor. When the first trailer for the film came out, he did not win me over and when the film was finally released in 2016, my fears of him being a horrible Lex Luthor were sadly confirmed. Even at his campiest, Lex Luthor has always been able to seem that he is the smartest man in the room. This version just seems like a wannabe version of the Joker (before Jared Leto actually became that). He seemed way too quirky and unstable to look like any sort of threat. His “intimidating” moments include shoving a jolly rancher candy into a government official’s mouth and secretly putting a jar of his own urine in a courtroom before blowing everyone up. It isn’t even clear why Luthor hates Superman. In other media, the man of steel constantly foils his schemes or is seen as an obstacle in his goals. This version of Luthor hasn’t even met Superman and actually benefits from the destruction caused by him as his company is shown to make money from most of the damage control. If he’s worried about him being too dangerous, it still doesn’t make sense on why he tries to take him down as he creates Doomsday in the third act, who is a mindless and destructive monster with no moral compass whatsoever. Eisenberg gives a beyond awkward performance in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, never once seeming like the actual Lex Luthor or even a threatening villain. He does not get better during his cameo in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, giving the same terrible performance without the slightest hint of improvement. As bad as characters like Batman and Jonathan Kent got, they still felt like they belonged in the movie. Eisenberg’s version of Lex Luthor always felt out of place, making him the worst DC character to be featured in a Zack Snyder movie.