zack snyder george washington movie

George Washington wasn’t just the first American president – he was, and remains, one of the most fascinating figures in world history, a man of numerous contradictions who became a symbol against his will and still managed to operate with grace, strength, and tact. We’ve yet to see a truly great movie exploring the life of this soldier, general, hunter, planter, rebel, politician and total stud who had a knack for wooing ladies on the dance floor. Here’s a man who could have been a king and chose to step down, establishing a precedent that changed the world. The human being beneath the icon, the soul under the portrait on the one dollar bill, is as cinematic as they come.

And director Zack Snyder wants to tell his story. In the style of his smash-hit 300. Oh, boy.

This tidbit can be found in the middle of a much larger Bloomberg profile on Snyder, whose Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is less than a month away from release. It’s a very good article, delving in Snyder’s past and his DC movie universe-centric future. But then you reach this paragraph:

Meanwhile, Snyder is spending late nights in his cavernous office working on the upcoming Justice League movie. He’s also thinking about making films that aren’t comic book adaptations. Sort of. One of these days, he’d like to make one about George Washington in the style of 300. He has a picture in his office of the Revolutionary War hero crossing the icy Delaware on his way to decimate the British in the Battle of Trenton. “We were talking about it,” Snyder says. “The first thing we asked was, well, how are we going to make it look? I pointed at this painting. It looks like 300. It’s not that hard.”

Huh. Huh. I like Snyder. I like most of his movies. I’ll even go to bat for Man of Steel. But huh.

On one level, I can see where he’s coming from here. As portrayed in various paintings and patriotic retellings, the American Revolution was 300-esque: a small band of ragtag soldiers, led by an indefatigable leader, took on the strongest empire in the world and emerged victorious. By picking his battles and breaking every rule he could, General George Washington accomplished the impossible. And who knows? Maybe he did it all in slow-motion, complete with stylized CGI blood spurts and grand declarations about dining in hell. Who are we to say that he didn’t declare “This. Is. America!” before kicking Benedict Arnold down a well?

The truth is that the American Revolution was a hard and desperate war. The soldiers grumbled about pay and deserted so they could go home and tend to their farms. Washington was hopelessly outmatched and outclassed by his British adversaries – he won the war not because he had a superior mind, but because he dug in his heels and learned how to take every devastating blow on the chin. He was the Rocky Balboa of the Founding Fathers. He simply didn’t go down and waited the enemy out.

It’s okay that Snyder sees George Washington as an action hero. That’s fine. There’s a movie there. After all, 300 was structured as a campfire tale being told to other soldiers – the tale of Washington can function similarly, as a depiction of propaganda and legend instead of a literal story. And yet, I’m less interested in Washington the warrior and more interested in the guy whose letters home would rotate between total dread and depression over the state of the war and very specific notes on how he would like to remodel his house if he manages to survive. The Founding Fathers are so much more interesting when they’re human.

Anyway, there’s no guarantee that Snyder will even make this movie. It’s just a tiny moment in a much bigger article about a filmmaker with a couple dozen other projects on his plate. Before he can worry himself with making George Washington into a superhero, he has to focus on the Justice League movie.

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