In a recent interview with Total Film, Zack Snyder asked about Sucker Punch, the director’s 2011 action fantasy film starring Emily Browning as Babydoll. To the surprise of many, the Batman v Superman director believes that he should have gone even further with the film, as he believes that audiences didn’t quite grasp the concept of the film. But perhaps all of that could be fixed in Sucker Punch 2.
For those who don’t remember, the plot for Sucker Punch follows Babydoll, a young girl sent to a mental asylum by her abusive stepfather. She falls into a fantasy world and imagines an escape from the hands of her oppressors. The impressive ensemble cast included Abbie Cornish as Sweet Pea, Jamie Chung as Amber, Oscar Isaac as Blue Jones, Jena Malone as Rocket, Jon Hamm as High Roller, Carla Gugino as Dr. Vera Gorski, Scott Glenn as Wise Man and Vanessa Hudgens as Blondie.
The film features an original script by Snyder and Steve Shibuya. Unfortunately, it was a dud with critics who slammed Sucker Punch (22% on Rotten Tomatoes) as “technically impressive” but “without characters or a plot to support them”. Even still, it managed to break even at the box office and has gained a loyal following over the years.
Satire and Deconstruction
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Commenting on the film, Zack Snyder remarked, “Sucker Punch is probably the most straightforward, pure satire that I’ve made, and I still think I didn’t go far enough. A lot of people thought that it was just a movie about scantily clad girls dancing around in a brothel.”
Then the director emphasised how people didn’t understand the meaning of the film and links his work on Sucker Punch to his work on Watchmen. Snyder remarked, “Did you see Watchmen? That film is completely a superhero deconstruction from the drop, which is all Alan Moore. That’s the thing I’ve found really interesting and motivating throughout my career. I think that, seen as a whole, it’s more obvious than on a movie-to-movie basis.”
Snyder’s remarks reveal his mindset on all of his genre films. He utilises subversion and deconstruction to distort convention and create layers of meaning underneath the surface. Man of Steel, the 2013 Superman reboot, is a prime example. It was controversial for showing a more realistic and grounded version of the iconic character.
The film rebuffed the conventional way Superman is usually portrayed. The wholesome Christopher Reeve version is mainly lighthearted, hopeful and self-assured. In Man of Steel, Superman is uncertain and grim. Snyder rebuked accusations that he changed the character and said that if you knew the character from the comics, you would know that he (Snyder) did not change Superman at all. What, in fact, did change was the onscreen image of the character. Snyder subverted the Reeves version that most people were familiar with.
Zack uses Sucker Punch to highlight how deceptive his movies are. He notes that people often misunderstand the double meanings in his films. In Total Film, the Rebel Moon director says, “The thing that is deceiving about my movies is that I’m always trying to give audiences the movie they think they want to see, but also give them the subverted version of it at the same time. That notion has always been really cool and fascinating: that as filmmakers, we’re trying to sneak in the subversive thing without breaking the illusion. That’s the trick.”
Zack is still very passionate about Sucker Punch. He also seems disappointed that people missed the whole point of the film. Its hidden layers connecting sexism and objectification of females were lost on much of the audience and perhaps on a few critics. Perhaps the director should go further next time with Sucker Punch 2. The original film has garnered a cult following over the years, and Snyder’s clout with fans means there would be a large audience willing to see Sucker Punch 2.
Snyder said it himself; he didn’t go far enough with the film. He pulled back and was not overt enough about the satirical qualities of the movie. Perhaps the director could use his lingering passion and make another Sucker Punch, one that is more overt about its double meanings.