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The Worst Superhero Movie, According To Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan ("Inception," "Tenet," "Dunkirk") isn't exactly shy about sharing his thoughts about the entertainment industry as a whole. In 2017, for example, the British auteur criticized Netflix for upending the theatrical distribution system (via The Verge). He doubled down by calling HBO Max "the worst streaming service" (via The Hollywood Reporter). However, it's less common for Nolan to share his honest thoughts about other movies. So on the rare occasions that he does, the industry takes notice. Especially when he takes aim at a superhero movie.

Nolan's opinions about superhero movies carry more weight than most. Not only was "The Dark Knight" trilogy one of the most successful superhero trilogies ever — combined, all three films took in almost $2.5 billion (via The Numbers) — but his distinctive grimdark sensibility arguably set the template for most superhero movies in the 2010s.

But Nolan wasn't as impressed with another DC title that followed his trilogy. Here's what he considers to be the worst superhero movie.

It turns out Christopher Nolan also prefers the Snyder Cut

Yes, Christopher Nolan hated "Justice League" — or, more accurately, the original 2017 release of "Justice League," on which Nolan served as executive producer.

In case you've been living off the grid for the past several decades, the first version of "Justice League" was one of the biggest flops in recent years. Zack Snyder was the original director until a family tragedy forced him to step away from the production. In stepped "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon to finish the project. When Whedon's cut premiered in 2017, it was so widely reviled that fans spent years demanding Warner Bros. "#ReleaseTheSnyderCut," which the company eventually did on March 18 of this year.

But to Nolan, none of this was a surprise. In a February 2021 interview with Vanity Fair, Snyder recalled Nolan's reaction to the Whedon version. After Nolan and Snyder's wife Deborah screened the movie, the two approached Snyder and told him, "You can never see that movie." Deborah Snyder added that she knew Whedon's version would break her husband's heart.

Those are strong words from the director of "The Dark Knight" trilogy, but we'd bet most fans would agree. 

Christopher Nolan knows a thing or two about superhero movies

Certainly, DC fans can take Nolan's word for it that the original cut of "Justice League" is the worst superhero movie around, as the man certainly knows his way around a superhero blockbuster. After kicking off his Batman trilogy in 2005 with "Batman Begins" and casting acclaimed actor Christian Bale as Gotham's favorite Caped Crusader, Nolan made one of the most beloved comic book adaptations of all time with 2008's "The Dark Knight," the midpoint of his three film saga — and, many fans would argue, not just the best movie in the "Dark Knight" trilogy, but the best Batman movie around.

By pitting Bale's Batman against Heath Ledger's terrifying, unforgettable Joker — one of the late actor's final roles which netted him every major accolade, including a posthumous Academy Award — and giving a seriously dark edge to Bruce Wayne's story, Nolan created what could be called the most defining and acclaimed Batman film. With that in mind, it must have been even more difficult to see his friend's take on "Justice League" turned unrecognizable by a different director with a radically different vision, and Nolan is definitely an authority when it comes to which superhero movies work... and which ones don't.

Zack Snyder's Justice League was much more successful than the original

Four years after Joss Whedon's original "Justice League" hit theaters, Zack Snyder finally returned his film to its original glory with "Zack Snyder's Justice League," which hit HBO Max on March 18, 2021, electing for a streaming release during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic that kept moviegoers out of theaters for months. As soon as the long-awaited "Snyder Cut" was available to fans, audiences flocked to praise the recut, reworked film, with the general consensus being that Snyder's effort was a huge improvement over Whedon's film.

Though some weren't a fan of the film's lengthy 242 minute run time — which comes out at just over four hours — critics largely praised Snyder's film, remarking that it smoothed out some of the bumpier parts of Whedon's version. NPR's Eric Deggans, who apparently wasn't expecting to like the movie, admitted, "It actually succeeds. In more ways than I ever expected," continuing by saying the film "gives fans a tantalizing look at a world that could have been — the best iteration of Snyder's vision for the DC universe in film, capitalizing on the kind of second chance that rarely comes around in Hollywood anymore." Meanwhile, Melanie McFarland at Salon highlighted Snyder's development as a director, writing, "'Zack Snyder's Justice League' shows Snyder's evolution from a director known for emphasizing style over substance to a man who understands why we love superhero myths, whether they live in the DC Universe or Marvel's."

Clearly, Zack Snyder got the last word on "Justice League," and luckily, his friend Christopher Nolan looked out for him along the way. "Zack Snyder's Justice League" is available to stream on HBO Max now.