Justice League & Zack Snyder’s Secret Weapon: Diversity
Posted by Alex Lynch
Zack Snyder is already known as a visionary, but that title doesn’t come easily. He’s constantly praised for his magnificent use of the weapon called “the camera”, and his deep and philosophical storytelling. However, Zack Snyder is guaranteed to make Batman V Superman a global success, at least box-office wise. Despite Disney trying to put in the effort, Zack Snyder’s secret weapon to global domination is simple…diversity.
What do you mean? Zack Snyder (mostly) color-blind casts, and he does it strategically. The seeds for Batman V Superman (and eventually Justice League)’s ethnic variety was planted in Man of Steel, with Laurence Fishburne taking up the role of Perry White, who is usually portrayed as caucasian. Whilst this casting caused a bit of a stir and revealed the racism of comic book nerds, this had no effect on the character or how he was portrayed. From what we saw of Fishburne, he nailed the hard-ass characteristics of the comic book editor, and also added some fantastic emotion to him during the World Engine destruction scenes. Even though the character wasn’t marketed or integral, this part alone proved that race is not an issue with casting for superheroes.
Man of Steel also sort of tested the diversity theory with a main superhero. Whilst it wasn’t quite an issue for fanboys, Snyder’s casting for Superman was very interesting and broke new ground. Henry Cavill is British, yet he’s representing pretty much the American embodiment of a superhero. Fans didn’t have any problem with that, except the snarky Marvel fanboys who thought Henry Cavill couldn’t act. However, with Warner Bros.’ new tactic becoming clearer everyday, it’s interesting to note that this could have been the key move in a very long game. ThinkMcFlyThink previously reported that the Justice League could be compromised of a “United Nations”-type deal. Despite TMT’s scoop claiming it’ll be story-based, this site often gets a little bit of information wrong in a web of truth. So far, Zack has cast a multitude of ethnicities in the upcoming DC Comics film, and is only missing a key role that ThinkMcFlyThink mentioned; a Latino Flash. This type of diversity isn’t quite new, but it would sure cause an interesting stir.
Marketing in all the key demographics is going to be nothing but a profit for Warner Bros, and it won’t affect the characters or how they are portrayed at all. A Hispanic or Latino Flash would hit a huge demographic for the company. This demographic is the final key that could hit the home run for Warners, as they already have plenty of the other major parts covered. Snyder is creating global heroes, something the Justice League represents. These heroes don’t just fight for New York like The Avengers, they fight for peace and all of mankind. Additionally — with Sucker Punch and Watchmen — Zack Snyder has proved without a shadow of a doubt that he can do ensemble films without focusing on a singular character. Therefore, Warner Bros could easily market a certain character to a key demographic and ensure that the audience will get a healthy dose of them in the film.
Maximizing the box office of Justice League is a key component to Warner Bros’ upcoming DC film plans. Diversity is integral, and helps attract several blocks of audiences, studies show. According to Bloomberg, Fast 6‘s monster 116$ opening was barely contributed to by caucasians. Latinos took up the majority of the opening weekend audience, due in-part to the diverse cast of the film. Patrick Corcoran, VP and COO of the National Association of Theater Owners stated that “The cast’s popularity among different demographics allowed the studio to broaden its ability to engage its audience”. Another interesting study showed that films with diverse black, latino and asian leads in 2011 had a higher median box office gross than strict-race leads. Even though it’s getting better in television, Hollywood’s representation of America, and the world’s diversity is still weak, especially since blacks or latinos are sometimes restricted to stereotypical roles. It seems as though that Justice League is trying to target ALL major demographics in hopes of coying up some serious box office cash, and Zack Snyder’s progressiveness is going to save Hollywood.
Whilst Batman V Superman is guaranteed to rain money, Warner Bros wants to do several solo-hero films after Justice League, which won’t happen unless the characters can click with the audience. Whilst Snyder loves to make new stars out of people, he’s also using actors with an already-established fanbase. Jason Momoa will portray the king of the seven seas – Aquaman – in the film, and comes from a Hawaiian background. His fanbase contains mostly Game of Thrones fans. In comics, Aquaman was always been portrayed as purely white, sporting blonde hair. Kevin Tsujihara – saviour of Warner Bros – went in discussions for a long time and finally captured Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in an unspecified role. Johnson is of Samoan-American descent, and has one of the biggest fanbases in the world right now. He’s one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood and has made his mark in the past 15+ years in professional wrestling. Ben Affleck will portray Bruce Wayne/Batman, who has won a “Best Picture” Oscar for his film Argo. The combined star power of Batman V Superman along with the ethnic diversity that’s going to be built up for Justice League ensures some box office success, at least.
Snyder’s diversity isn’t only in ethnicity, however. The man knows that gender equality is important as well. I mean, he did make a rich, music-driven opera starring an all-female cast. Additionally, 300 featured Queen Gorgo (whose way better than Game of Thrones‘ Cersei by the way) and Man of Steel featured a badass, well-written villain in Faora, who wasn’t sexualized in the slightest. With Batman V Superman, Zack Snyder decided to put in the most important female of all in his upcoming film: Wonder Woman. He hid this under wraps as much as he could. However the rumors with candidates circulated for months. That translated to me that Snyder took lots of care in choosing Israeli beauty Gal Gadot to represent this powerful character. And she fits, too. Gadot is a great choice for the role (but we aren’t going into that). However, the character will be an integral part of the buildup to Justice League.
In conclusion, it’s clear that Snyder and Warner Bros’ “weapon of mass destruction” is going to be their diverse casting choices. They will have almost all major demographics in the palm of their hand; amassing millions of dollars effortlessly. This tactic is almost as effective as a nuke, beating out (without question) not only Marvel Studios, but also other companies like FOX and Sony who want to do superhero ensemble movies. A diverse Justice League is much better than an ensemble of caucasians fighting aliens in New York. Warner Bros will undoubtedly amass millions upon millions of dollars with their upcoming superhero flicks no matter the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score or quality.